Islamic Sect Takes Responsibility for Intensified Violence in Northern Nigeria
Militants from the Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group in Nigeria, threw a bomb into the building of the All Christian Fellowship Mission church on July 10 as members were leaving a Sunday worship service, killing three Christians. Church member Christopher Ogbu told Compass New that he lost his wife, Ifeanyiwa Justina Ogbu, in the explosion. “I have now been transformed into a widower,” Ogbu said.
Shortly after the church was bombed, church leaders declared a week of fasting and prayer. Members culminated the week of mourning on Saturday (July 17) with a memorial service for the Christians who were killed. At the funeral service Rev. William Okoye, general overseer of the church, lamented the lack of security in Nigeria. He urged the government to halt the violence that has ravaged the country this year before it is plunged into religious war.
The explosion marks the third time this year that bombs have targeted institutions in Suleja, just outside the political heart of the nation. The first explosion occurred early in the year at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, killing more than 25 persons. A second bombing took place during a political party’s rally, killing several persons, including elementary school children.
The group behind most of Nigeria’s recent violence is known by several different names, including Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, its official Arabic name meaning “People committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad,” and Boko Haram, a nickname which means “Western education is forbidden (or, evil).” The sect rejects the “corrupting modernity” associated with western education. The group, founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, a religious teacher, seeks to establish Islam throughout Nigeria and to destroy the secular government in Abuja. It also condemns the north’s traditional Islamic establishment as “non-Islamic.”
Boko Haram has recently claimed responsibility for a rash of bombings and killings which targeted police officers, soldiers, politicians, clerics and Christians following the May 29 inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan. The group operates mainly throughout northern Nigeria. Maiduguri, one of the nation’s oldest centers of Islam, appears to be the center of its current activities. Boko Haram has reportedly formalized its links with Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb, allegedly trying to eradicate the church in Nigeria. Even though the main targets of their attacks are government buildings, police and politicians, the ultimate goal seems to be the destruction of the Christian presence as well.
In a warning statement exclusively obtained by pointblanknews.com, Abu Zaid, Boko Haram’s spokesman said, “This is a government that is not Islamic. Therefore, all its employees, Muslims and non-Muslims are Infidels. This is a government which naturally fights Islam because Muslims were killed in Zagon Kataf, in Jos and Southern Kaduna, but the perpetrators have never been prosecuted by the so-called existing laws of the land. Mosques were destroyed and punishment for this is death. Therefore, we have the right to kill them all.” The group that has murdered dozens of policemen in recent weeks concluded in the statement, “Our cause is purely religious.”
The Nigerian federal government has called on the group to come together to dialogue for a lasting peace in the region. But the group responded that their only conditions to stop this wanton destruction of life and property must include the full implementation of sharia law in the entire country.
Father, we come to You today praying for all citizens of Nigeria as everyone is suffering under the hands of this terrorist group. Father, we ask that You squelch their plans to cause chaos and destroy their agenda to establish Sharia law. We ask that You strengthen Your church, Your people and the government in Nigeria so that peace and stability will be restored. Amen