Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 649 | Wed 15 June 2022
RLPB is published weekly to facilitate strategic intercessory prayer.
NIGERIA: FALLING APART
by Elizabeth Kendal
|Muslims in Nigeria map,
showing locations of recent massacres on
Sundays 5 and 12 June.
BENUE: Early on Sunday morning 12 June, terrorists stormed Igama village in the Edumoga Ehaje community in Okpokwu Local Government Area (LGA) of Nigeria’s mixed but mostly Christian Benue. A survivor, Ambrose Adah, told Nigerian media an all-too-familiar story: ‘While we were preparing for the early morning Mass on Sunday, herdsmen in large numbers riding on motorbikes invaded our community.’ Mr Adah’s home is one of dozens destroyed. Residents have recovered 37 bodies, mostly of women and youths, which have been deposited at St Mary’s General Hospital, Okpoga. Some 500 residents have been displaced and are sheltering in neighbouring communities, triggering a humanitarian crisis in the area. Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom laments: ‘When I started shouting about the menace of killer herdsmen in my State, many people thought I was playing to the gallery. Gradually, this has spread to all other parts of the country because the Federal Government has refused to act appropriately and decisively against them.’
KADUNA: On Sunday 5 June, as terrorists massacred worshippers at St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State in Nigeria’s South-West [RLPB 648 (8 June)], terrorists on motorbikes were descending on Christian villages in Kajuru LGA, in predominantly Christian southern Kaduna. The Fulani terrorists arrived on around 150 motorbikes, each carrying three people: a driver and two gunmen (one firing to the left and one to the right). They wore turbans and were armed with AK-47 automatic assault rifles. They stormed the villages of Ungwan Gamu, Dogon Noma, Ungwan Sarki and Maikori at around noon, while many villagers were still in or emerging from church. The attack continued until around 6pm and left at least 32 people dead, though many remain missing, and dozens of homes destroyed, along with properties belonging to Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA).
|Kajuru massacre survivors narrate ordeal.
Daily Times, 13 June 2022.
A controversy is raging over whether a helicopter involved in the incident was ‘engaging’ or aiding the terrorists on the ground. The Kaduna State Government insists the helicopter was an ‘Air Force helicopter (under Operation Whirl Punch) dispatched to the area’, and that it ‘intercepted the bandits’ and ‘engaged them as they retreated’. Locals, however, tell a very different story. The leader of the 1st ECWA Church in Maikori, Reverend Denis Sani, told Southern Kaduna Peoples Union that ‘the helicopter did not hide its intention that it came to kill us and to help the armed Fulani to achieve what they wanted to do.’ It is a view corroborated by many, including the youth leader of Maikori village, who insisted ‘the bullets were coming from the bottom of the helicopter straight at us. At first I thought it was a mistake, but it circled back, saw the position of the enemy, left them alone and started raining bullets at us and into our village’. According to Sahara Reporters (10 June), ‘villagers in Maikori had prepared to repel the attacks when a helicopter appeared and started air strikes against the natives’. Senator Shehu Saniif tweeted: ‘I was on a call with a Kajuru youth leader who confirmed the massacre of 32 people by terrorists in Kaduna. The reported helicopter may not have belonged to the terrorists, but it deliberately refused to take action against the terrorists when they were killing and burning down houses.’
|President Muhammadu Buhari|
The Kajura incident, specifically the prospect that a military helicopter may have aided Fulani terrorists, only adds weight to another controversy: the long-held belief that President Buhari – a retired Major-General, former military dictator, ethnic Fulani and long-time Islamist – has been and still is actively advancing the Islamisation and Fulanisation of Nigeria. How President Buhari and the elite Fulani Islamist political-military clique that supports him will respond when they lose their grip on power is the biggest threat facing Nigeria today.
Update to RLPB 648, Terrorism Strikes the South-West, 8 June 2022
The official toll in the Owo church massacre has risen to 40, with 61 survivors being treated in hospital. Unsurprisingly, at a press conference on 9 June, President Buhari told reporters that Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) was responsible for the massacre, when in actuality, ISWAP has not claimed responsibility. Buhari was followed by Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman, who assured reporters that the Owo church massacre ‘is not an ethno-religious thing’. So the official narrative of the Buhari administration is that the Owo church massacre had ‘no ethnic agenda’ and ‘nothing to do with Islam’. This claim is astonishing, especially considering the perpetrators are yet to be arrested or questioned! If northern Fulani Muslims massacring southern Yoruba Christians inside a church on a Sunday morning is not ‘an ethnio-religious thing’, then what is it? For sure, it is political! But when the political issues in play are Fulani expansion and Islamisation, then it is definitely ‘an ethno-religious thing’.
PLEASE PRAY THAT OUR SOVEREIGN GOD WILL
* intervene in Nigeria for the sake of his precious Nigerian Church. May Yahweh Sabaoth (the Lord of hosts; the commander of heaven’s angelic armies) shield his Church, defend his Church, build his Church and hold her together. May the Holy Spirit ignite in the churches a zeal for united intercessory prayer; may they put their trust in God, not ‘man’. May the Holy Spirit ignite awakening in the hearts and minds of Nigerian Muslims; may they seek and find peace, truth, light and life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
* intervene in Nigeria to bind all ‘spiritual forces of evil’ as they seek to disable or even destroy the most missional Church in all Africa and one of the leading missionary-sending Churches in the world today. ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places’ (from Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV).
* grace all Nigeria’s Christian leaders – be they parents, pastors, school teachers, writers or academic elites; political figures, civic leaders or community elders – with divine wisdom, discernment and courage to lead the Lord’s people in line with God’s will and according to God’s divine plan for Nigeria.
‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’ (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
NIGERIA IS FALLING APART
On Sunday 12 June Fulani Muslim terrorists stormed a Christian community in Okpokwu Local Government Area (LGA) of Nigeria’s mostly Christian Benue State. They arrived on motorbikes, shooting indiscriminately as people prepared for church, killing at least 37 people and displacing hundreds. Dozens of homes were burned. On Sunday 5 June, as terrorists were massacring Catholic worshippers in Owo, in Ondo State in Nigeria’s South-West, terrorists were descending on a Christian community in southern Kaduna’s Kajuru LGA. They arrived on around 150 motorbikes, each carrying two turbaned gunmen. They killed 32 villagers and destroyed a church and dozens of homes. Critically, victims report that the terrorists were assisted by gunfire from a white-painted helicopter that provided air cover for the terrorists as they looted and torched the villages. Nigeria is falling apart. Please pray.
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Elizabeth has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016). She is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.