Two weeks after the tragic massacre in Mubi, Nigeria, the traumatic memories still hang like a cloud over the city… Just before midnight, the attackers called students out of their rooms and asked them for their names. Those with Christian names were shot dead or killed with knives. The bodies were left in lines outside the buildings. Students with traditionally Muslim names were told to quote Islamic scripture. “If you succeeded, you were let go,” a survivor told our reporter who rushed to Mubi Hospital.
The fully armed attackers invaded the Tudun Wada Wuro Patuje area at about 10 pm on October 1, firing shots into the air. Nigerian military sources report that despite their struggle to repel them for at least an hour, attackers still made their way to the off-campus hostels of the Federal Polytechnic State University and several private residencies of Christians.
On October 15, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, visited relatives of the dead to express his condolences. Although greatly appreciated, his visit shed no further light on the motives behind the massacre. According to Mubi church leaders, a total of at least 30 people, mostly students, were killed and at least 4 injured in the main attack, with many others also killed in the surrounding areas. What has become clear, however, is that many Christians were singled out by name. At least one Christian female present was spared, as were Muslims who could quote Islamic verses; other Muslims, who could not, were killed along with the Christian students.
Various possible motives have been associated with this attack, which came on Nigeria’s Independence Day and two days after Student Union Government elections at Mubi’s Federal Polytechnic.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Mubi reported that, prior to the attack jihadists had circulated letters containing a chilling ultimatum to some believers in the area: either recant their Christian faith within two weeks or suffer fatal consequences.
CAN says it believes an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria was responsible, despite the Islamist group’s denial. Both Nigerian and international media outlets have also speculated that the student elections in which the Federal Polytechnic students had elected a Christian for President could have motivated the attack. Another possible motive came to light when police carried out mass arrests of students in the days after the attacks, claiming they had found an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria members among them whom they accused of masterminding the attacks. No conclusive evidence has been found to prove which, if any, of these three groups is responsible for the deadly confrontation.
A local Mubi church leader told Open Doors News, “Despite these circumstances the church will hold on to God and will triumph; we are not going to retaliate. We want to display Christlikeness even when they hate us. We are not going to relocate from Mubi. This is where the Lord has placed us. We shall stay and fulfill our calling to the glory of our heavenly Father.”
Father, surely the Christians in northern Nigeria must be remembering at times the words of David in Psalm 13, “How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” And yet we know You are there in the midst of their sorrow and fear. And they know it, too. Thank You for the encouragement to us of their profound faith in You despite their tragic circumstances. Uphold them, Father, by Your strong right arm. Protect them. This week, give them a glimpse of Your presence in their midst, in small ways and large. May those who attack them see clear evidence that You are there with them, that many may bow their knees before You. In the name of Jesus who promised never to leave us or forsake us, Amen.