The Bloodbath Continues in Nigerias Northeast
On January 3, Boko Haram, a Nigerian group that seeks to impose Sharia (Islamic law), issued an ultimatum in a newspaper threatening violence if Christians did not leave predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria in three days. Since then, according to Compass Direct News, Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language means “Western education is sacrilege,” has reportedly claimed responsibility for killing at least 44 people in four states.
Two days after the ultimatum on January 5, members of Boko Haram emerged from a mosque near the Deeper Life Bible Church at about 7:30 p.m. and attacked Christians attending a weekly meeting known as “The Hour of Revival,” area sources said. Over half of the members were either killed or injured in the shooting rampage. Silas Ugboeze, who was in coma for three days at the Federal Medical Centre in Gombe, died just 20 minutes after Compass arrived on Saturday raising the death toll to nine and bringing the list of those wounded in the attack to 19.
Ugboeze’s death came as another blow to his family that was already reeling from the attack, which claimed the life of his son Gideon and left his 12-year-old daughter, Victoria Silas Ugboeze, wounded in both breasts. She has thus far survived along with her brother Daniel, who was also shot. Ugboeze’s widow, staggering from the loss of her husband and son, and struggling to care for two wounded children, was overcome with grief at the hospital, able to say only, “Lord, where are you? This burden is too much for me to bear.”
The Gombe Deeper Life Bible Church was planted more than 20 year years ago and is adjacent to the mosque built less than two meters from its northern end, said the church’s 43-year-old pastor, Sunday Okoli. His wife, Chinyere Okoli, who sustained a light wound as a bullet grazed her head, said, “We had been in the church for about one hour and 30 minutes praying, when suddenly we heard gunshots and felt bullets hitting us. Oh my God, blood was flowing as our members were shot by the gunmen.” She reported that Chilver Chenma, wife of church elder Chenma Ngwaba, and their son, Chinedu Chenma, were both killed in the attack.
Christians in Adamawa state also came under attack on the night of Friday, January 6, by Boko Haram. Eleven people were killed and many others injured at the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC). “There was blood all over the church hall – it was a very sorry sight,” Adamawa journalist Barnabas Manyan told Compass.
“The gunmen numbering about six stormed the church, killing three people outside the gate, and eight people inside, including Associate Pastor Joshua Olaniyi, while the service was on,” CAC Pastor Alfred Anoris told newsmen. “The men were dressed in caftans but had their faces covered. They carried out the act with the precision and tact of professional killers. Many people were wounded and are in the hospital.”
Earlier on Friday, 12 persons were reportedly killed when armed men claimed by Boko Haram opened fire on a gathering of Christian traders holding a prayer session before opening their shops in Mubi, Adamawa. The gunmen also shot at another group of Christians meeting at a town hall to arrange for the transportation of relatives slain the previous day, bringing the total of those killed in Mubi to 21.
On Saturday, January 7, Boko Haram members also reportedly killed two Christian students of the University of Maiduguri, in Maiduguri, Borno state. Ayo Oritsejafor, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said Christian leaders had decided to “work out means to defend ourselves against these senseless killings.”
Father, we weep with these families in northern Nigeria who have lost loved ones and who have sustained injuries. Comfort them and protect them. Give the church leaders wisdom as to how to respond in ways that are godly. May we be faithful in storming Your throne room on their behalf that they might see clear evidence that their defense is in the Lord alone. In the name of Jesus our sure defense, Amen.