Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari joins Nigerians of all faiths and beliefs who are mourning the recent killing of the Rev. Lawan Andimi, a Christian pastor, by members of the Islamist military group Boko Haram.
“I did not know Pastor Andimi personally,” Buhari wrote in a February 3 article in Christianity Today. “Yet Nigerians and I both know him and his church by their works: healing, caring, feeding and educating, particularly in the northeastern regions of my country—in those areas threatened for too long by terrorists.”
Andimi was kidnapped and beheaded in January, just days after he pleaded for his life in a video recording. His abduction coincided with an attack on his hometown, according to the Associated Press.
Andimi was chairman of a chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the Michika local government area. His ministry is headquartered just 60 miles from Chibok, a town that made worldwide headlines in 2014 when Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped 267 schoolgirls from the area.
Nigeria’s president condemned the pastor’s slaying as “cruel, inhuman and deliberately provocative,” adding in a Twitter message that he was “greatly saddened by the fact that the terrorists went on to kill him even while giving signals of a willingness to set him free by releasing him to third parties.”
11 Nigerians were abducted and killed during the Christmas holiday by a splinter group of Boko Haram known as Islamic State Western African Province (ISWAP).
Pakistan and Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, are the world’s two most violent nations for persecuted Christians, according to a 2020 ranking by Open Doors, an international Christian persecution watchdog, which states that persecution is particularly acute in 12 northern Nigerian states, where Christians are 15 percent of the population and Islamic Sharia law is practiced. In seven of the northern states, where the Christian population totals roughly 50 percent, Christians are often targets of ethnic cleansing.
Open Doors defines ethnic cleansing as “the expulsion of a competitor or those who differ in race, ethnicity or religion from a given area by employing different unlawful means, the known ones being: murder, destruction of property, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, confinement of civilian population in ghetto areas, forcible removal, displacement and deportation of civilian population, extra-judicial executions, rape and deliberate military or other organizational attacks, or threats of attacks, on civilians or even genocide.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports “the insurgency has affected about 5 million people, including more than 2.2 million Nigerians who are internally displaced and almost 180,000 who have fled to neighbouring countries.”
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