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Thread: "Bring Back Our Girls" The Kidnapped Chibok Girls and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

  1. #1
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    Default "Bring Back Our Girls" The Kidnapped Chibok Girls and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

    Last Saturday the Irish Christian organisation "Church in Chains" held their annual conference in Dublin.
    The guest speaker was Rev. Soja Bewarang from Nigeria and he spoke eloquently about the persecution and oppression of Christians in Muslim dominated parts of Nigeria.

    Sharia Law

    The significance of Sharia law (in place in twelve states in northern Nigeria) was detailed by Rev Soja as he explained that under Sharia there is no separation between religion and state and that everything in society is centred around Islam. He said that Christians living under Sharia are forbidden to distribute Christian literature, pray or preach in public and are not free to build churches in Muslim-dominated areas. There are severe penalties for Christians who are deemed to speak out against Islam.

    While Rev Soja warned that Christians everywhere should be concerned about Sharia law, he emphasised that "Jesus tells Christians to loves Muslims because He wants Muslims to join Christians in heaven. Christians in Nigeria do not hate Muslims."

    He spoke about an attempt on his life and of his many murdered colleagues.

    Rev Soja spoke of his own experiences of persecution, telling how he was ambushed after leaving his church headquarters in Jos late one night - his car was hit by shots several times as he drove away to escape the attackers.

    Rev Soja also showed pictures of several pastors from his church who were murdered because of their faith and spoke of the distress of having to conduct their funerals. He also spoke about a suicide bomb attack on his church in Jos: "Lives were lost and the Christian youth of my church were going to retaliate. I had to come and like Moses, stretch out my arms in front of them and say ‘No - this is not our Gospel' and because of the respect that the youth had for me, they listened to me."
    He spoke of the 276 school girls kidnapped from their school in Chibok on 14th April 2014 by Boko Haram. 57 girls have managed to escape but 218 are still being held captive.
    Unfortunately forced marriage (aka rape) plus over two years of indoctrination and Stockholm Syndrome have made matters worse.

    "It is a puzzle that has left more questions than answers. We cannot understand why soldiers who are searching for the girls have not allowed parents of the girls to accompany them to help identify the girls. We had thought that with the release of Amina [who was found in May 2016] she would be able to lead the military to find the girls but Amina herself is not helping matters; she keeps saying that she just wants to be with her husband [a Boko Haram fighter to whom she was forcibly married]. The majority of the girls are Christian and pastors in my church know some of their parents."
    The parents of the Chibok Girls have mounted a vigorous campaign for their safe return.

    It is shameful that their plight has not received more international coverage.

    Here is a link to the english language bring back our girls web site.

    http://www.bringbackourgirls.ng/

    And here is a link to the Church in Chains conference report and their web site:

    http://www.churchinchains.ie/node/907

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    Default Re: "Bring Back Our Girls" The Kidnapped Chibok Girls and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

    Efforts to free the girls have been complicated by splits in the Boko Haram organisation, last minute changes in demands from them and people fraudulently pretending to speak on their behalf.


    From Church in Chains. Click on link for an easier to read version of below: http://www.churchinchains.ie/node/908


    19th September, 2016
    Nigeria's Information Minister says negotiations for a prisoner swap almost led to the rescue of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2015, but three times the negotiations collapsed.

    On Friday 16 September, Minister of Information Lai Mohammed gave an update on the government's efforts to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls (see full statement below). He stated that President Muhammadu Buhari is prepared to swap Boko Haram prisoners for the girls, and that last year the government almost secured their release, but three times the negotiations collapsed. On the first occasion, in August 2015, terrorist prisoners were taken to Maiduguri for a swap, but at the last minute Boko Haram issued a new set of demands that had not been part of the extensive negotiations, and the process stalled. He also explained that the recent leadership battle within Boko Haram has been a major setback to the negotiations.

    In an interview with the Guardian, Lai Mohammed said the government is now sure it is negotiating with the right people. He said the previous government under President Goodluck Jonathan conducted high-level negotiations before realising that they were talking to "charlatans", and added that negotiations under President Jonathan did not start until a year after the girls were abducted, making it more difficult for President Buhari.

    He said, "We are confident that we have a grasp of the divisions in the group, so when there have been setbacks in the negotiations we have known why. We can't put any sort of time on [their release]. The thing is we are dealing with a group that can change the goalposts at any time. It is and has been a really tricky situation. It's been a very testy matter because these divisions in Boko Haram are constantly shifting. But we inherited this situation and we are concentrating on rescuing the girls."

    #BringBackOurGirls
    The #BringBackOurGirls campaign group welcomed the news that the government has been negotiating with Boko Haram. Spokesman Abdulahi Abubakar said, "This is what we have been asking the government to do all this time. But we would not be part of the negotiation, the government should go ahead with the process, we welcome it and would continue to monitor developments."

    Oby Ezekwisili, founder of the group, said: "Our movement has been asking for feedback on our government's rescue efforts since our last meeting of 14 January 2016. So we consider this briefing by the federal government a start. We welcome every factual communication of their effort to bring back our girls and hope that this signals a new period of continuous feedback to parents, our movement and the general public."

    However, one of the fathers, Yakub Bulus, said: "I don't believe the government is making any efforts to rescue our girls. I will only believe it when I see our girls. Since 2014, when our girls were taken, it has been the same promises and assurance without results, so what the minister says is not true, they are not doing anything."

    His wife, Esther, dismissed the Information Minister's statement as "the usual lies" and added, "The last time they were here they gave out money to parents of school kids who have being attacked or taken by Boko Haram. I don't need money, all I need is my daughter."

    Information Minister Lai Mohammed's statement
    Good afternoon, gentlemen of the press.

    Members of the public may recall that when the present administration came on board, Mr President pledged to Nigerians to ensure the security of lives and property of every Nigerian, provide employment for the nation's teeming youths and fight corruption. Since that time, the security agencies have been saddled with the responsibility of dealing with the threat of terrorism which has ravaged most parts of the Northern region.

    You will also recall that from the physical destruction of communities and strategic institutions, the terrorist elements also engaged in abduction of women and children in the affected parts. Most painful was the abduction of the school girls in Chibok at the twilight of the past administration in 2014. When Mr President assumed leadership of this country, he immediately directed security agencies to urgently fashion out strategies to trace, locate and ensure the safe and successful release of the Chibok girls. This was the mandate given to security agencies.

    Gentlemen, it was consequent upon this directive that the security agencies, comprising of the Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy, Police and the DSS [Department of State Services], commenced action in June 2015. To this effect also, the DSS established a special tactical unit to review the gamut of actions so far carried out to secure the release of the Chibok girls, establish why the action has recorded no success as it were and to present a roadmap for possible success.

    In this process, the DSS and the other security agencies observed the following:

    Many persons or groups posing as negotiators actually had no veritable intelligence nor the reach to facilitate the release of the Chibok girls;

    The efforts were clouded by persons with very partisan interests and whose main objective was solely to score cheap political points. It was obvious their approach had no relevance to the release of the girls;

    Some informants or persons volunteering to be negotiators or facilitators saw and treated the girls' fate and indeed the situation as a conduit to enrich themselves, thus making the whole thing a pecuniary venture; and

    As a result of the conflicting and partisan interests, issues were muddled up to the extent that reasonable and fruitful leads either failed or simply came too late for any useful action.

    It was therefore found that in the midst of these strong competing interests and unnecessary rivalries, nothing was achieved before the 2015 handover date. It was based on these that the security agencies set out to work for the release of the girls.

    First, there was the need to identify those with relevant intelligence on the groups holding the girls, as well as establish sources of contact in touch with the group. This exercise was found not to be an easy task. On those holding the Chibok girls, there was also a high level of mistrust, as they too found many approaches or groups claiming to be in touch with them as false or unreliable.

    In this new bid, many offers ranging from credible, not credible to outright off-mark information came to the Government. Some international bodies and countries also provided leads. It was out of this that relevant security agencies were able to strike a chord. By the third week of July 2015, a contact group was in touch with credible assets who had the reach, and who attested to the fact that some of the Chibok girls were alive. Mr President was then briefed of these assets and intelligence and he gave his assent for further negotiations on the Chibok girls.

    Precisely on 17th July 2015, the DSS opened negotiations process with the group holding the Chibok girls. However, in return for the release of some of these girls, the group also made some demands. These included the release of some of their fighters arrested including some involved in major terrorist actions, resulting in several fatalities, and others who were experts in manufacture of locally assembled explosives. This was difficult to accept, but appropriate security agencies had to again inform Mr President of these demands, and its viewed implications. Again Mr President gave his assent believing that the overall release of these girls remains paramount and sacrosanct.

    Meanwhile, following the above development, Government and the security agencies had sufficient leverage to work out the modalities of the swap. These included creating the safe haven, or necessary place of swap and working out the logistic details. Based on this, the DSS availed other critical sister agencies of this new situation. Immediately, the Nigerian Army and the Air Force sent some specialists to commence a detailed arrangement for the swap. This was during the last week of July 2015 and 1st week of August 2015. The officers representing the various agencies worked out the logistic details, such as the number of persons to be swapped i.e. number of girls and detainees to be exchanged, the vehicles and aircraft, as well as safeguards, i.e. safety of the persons, including the location of the swap.

    When it was finally agreed by all parties, Mr President was again informed that the preparations were concluded, and the first step for the swap would commence on 1st August 2015. Mr President robustly gave his approval.

    On 4th August 2015, the persons who were to be part of the swap arrangements and all others involved in the operation were transported to Maiduguri, Borno State. This team, with the lead facilitator, continued the contact with the group holding the Chibok girls. The Service was able to further prove to the group its sincerity, as it established communication contact between it and its detained members. All things were in place for the swap which was mutually agreed. Expectations were high. Unfortunately, after more than two weeks of negotiation and bargains, the group, just at the dying moments, issued a new set of demands, never bargained for or discussed by the group before the movement to Maiduguri. All this while, the security agencies waited patiently. This development stalled what would have been the first release process of the Chibok girls.

    It may be important to note that in spite of this setback, the government and the security agencies have not relented in the bid to ensure that the Chibok girls are released safely. By the month of November, precisely 13th November 2015, another fresh negotiation process with the group was initiated. This time, there was the need to discuss a fresh component in other to avoid issues that had stalled the former arrangement. There were however some problems that many may not discern, but should be expected in this kind of situation. Some critical persons within the group who played such vital role in August 2015 were discovered to be dead during combat action or as a result of the emerging rift amongst members of the group then. These two factors delayed the process. In spite of these, negotiation continued on new modalities.

    By 30th November 2015 it was becoming glaring that the division amongst the group was more profound. This affected the swap process. By 10th December 2015, another negotiation process was in place, but this failed to achieve results because of the varying demands by the group.

    Gentlemen of the press, the security agencies since the beginning of 2016 have not only remained committed but have also taken the lead to resolve the Chibok girls' issue. In spite of the current division amongst members of the terrorist group, which has seriously affected efforts to release the girls, renewed efforts have commenced using our trusted assets and facilitators. However, this job requires diligence and ability to deal with a group that can easily change its demands without notice.

    Officers and men have sacrificed their time and energy, and some have already paid the supreme price since the abduction of the Chibok girls, fighting for the safe release of the girls. Many friendly countries and organisations have equally been very forthcoming in providing their human and technological resources to assist in the process. They are still doing so. We cannot as a nation ignore these sacrifices.

    The Government and its security agencies remain committed to ensuring that the Chibok girls are safely released in fulfillment of the Presidential mandate. Let me emphasise that Government appreciates the resilience of Nigerians in the fight against insurgency and terrorism, and will continue to call on fellow Nigerians to hold that much is ahead and therefore support Mr President's resolve on this matter. I cannot end this without appealing to the parents and relatives of the Chibok girls. We are with you; we feel your pains and shall not relent until we succeed in bringing home our girls and every other citizen abducted by the group. It is important to appeal to all those who have shown concern in resolving this matter to continue to trust the efforts of Government to deal with the situation.

    Thank you.

    (Guardian, Naija, Omojuwa)

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    Default Re: "Bring Back Our Girls" The Kidnapped Chibok Girls and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

    I am surprised the Irish charity "Church in Chains" is not better known. The salary of their CEO is available on their web site and is very modest compared to other NGO's.
    There were I recon about 200 people at their annual conference, but no press coverage as far as I know. Maybe they don't seek publicity, but I do not see why they should not.


    An edited version of Rev. Soja's talk has been put on youtube.



    .

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    Default Re: "Bring Back Our Girls" The Kidnapped Chibok Girls and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

    The Nigerian government with the help of the Swiss government has negotiated the release of twenty one of the kidnapped Chibok girls. Many thousands of women have been taken captive by Boko Haram over the last few years.

    "Yesterday, twenty one of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls were released following negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram (the Islamist terrorist group that abducted them in April 2014).

    Vice President Osinbajo described the girls as being in "reasonably good health considering the circumstances they've been held in". He said the government would provide accommodation, support and healthcare for the girls and that their parents would soon join them. He also announced that the government had decided to sponsor the girls' education and provide them with jobs."
    Church in chains.

    More detailed account here: http://www.churchinchains.ie/node/916


    Al Jazeera report on the release: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/1...102746662.html


    http://<a href="http://www.aljazeera...46662.html</a>

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    Default Re: "Bring Back Our Girls" The Kidnapped Chibok Girls and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

    Quote Originally Posted by church in chains
    Released Chibok girls
    reunited with families

    The 21 Chibok schoolgirls released by Boko Haram last week were reunited with their families at a thanksgiving service on Sunday. At the service, the girls held up Bibles to signify their freedom of worship, having been forced to convert to Islam by their kidnappers.

    Gloria Dame, one of the rescued girls, said: "I did not know that a day like this would come when we would be dancing and giving thanks to God among people... We are praying to God for the release of our remaining ones in captivity."

    The released girls face many problems including discrimination simply because they were in contact with Boko Haram. If that is true it seems awful that they would be re-victimised by their own neighbors.


    Community leader Pogu Bitrus, chairman of the Chibok Development Association, says more than a third of the students abducted seem unwilling to leave their captors. He says they may have been radicalised or else fear that because they were forced to marry extremists and have children they will be labelled "Boko Haram wives".

    He said the released girls should be educated abroad, explaining: "We would prefer that they are taken away from the community and this country because the stigmatisation is going to affect them for the rest of their lives. Even someone believed to have been abused by Boko Haram would be seen in a bad light." He said girls who escaped during the raid in 2014 faced taunts and insults in Chibok and were labelled "Boko Haram wives", and added that at least twenty of them are being educated in the US.

    The likelihood of stigmatisation was confirmed by Mausi Segun, a researcher in Nigeria for Human Rights Watch, who said many of the girls who escaped during the raid had to leave Chibok because they were seen as Boko Haram wives even though they never got as far as the Boko Haram camp: "Some never even went back to Chibok and some left very shortly after returning." Regarding the released girls, Mausi Segun said it was unlikely they would be able to return to Chibok, saying: "Any sign that there has been sexual contact with any man, and these men are Boko Haram, will cause a backlash. The likelihood they will return home is slim."

    Thousands of women have been abducted by Boko Haram in recent years, and those who have been released or have escaped have faced discrimination and stigma.

    197 girls are still missing. It is believed at least six have died in captivity.

    Of the 276 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014, 57 escaped by jumping from the trucks taking them away. One girl (Amina Ali) was found and rescued in May 2016 link, and 21 were released on 13 October. This leaves 197 girls still missing, and it is feared that several of them are dead – Amina Ali reported that six had died in captivity. Of a group of about one hundred girls held together, one died of a snake bite, one died in childbirth and four died in a bombing.
    At least 14 parents have died since their daughters were kidnapped. One father was murdered by Boko Haram when they raided his village.

    Full report here: http://www.churchinchains.ie/node/918

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    Default Re: "Bring Back Our Girls" The Kidnapped Chibok Girls and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

    NIGERIA: Twelve Christians killed in Easter attack:



    At least twelve people were killed and many more injured when Fulani militants attacked Asso village in southern Kaduna State on Easter Saturday (15 April).

    Eyewitnesses reported that a large number of heavily armed militants descended on the village at around 7pm, attacking villagers as they attended Easter Vigil services.

    The attack on Asso occurred despite the heavy security presence in southern Kaduna. According to local sources, the majority of police and soldiers who were deployed to Asso in December 2016 in response to ongoing attacks in the area were withdrawn on Good Friday (the day before the attack), with the exception of four police who were easily overwhelmed by the attackers. As the violence continued, more soldiers and police arrived, but they too were outnumbered and obliged to take cover along with fleeing villagers.

    Most of the victims were Roman Catholics and the local Catholic bishop, Joseph Danlami Bagobiri of Kafanchan, along with the priest in Asso, Fr Alexander Yayock, presided over the burial of ten Catholics on Easter Day.

    bishop-bagobiriBishop Bagobiri (pictured) issued a strong statement in the aftermath of the attack in which he accused the local governor, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, of complicity with the perpetrators of the violence and bias against their victims. In the statement, he said: “The attitude of the state government has been marred by lots of complicity and bias which exacerbated rather than ameliorated tensions… The Governor has used the state apparatus to insult, denigrate, intimidate, arrest and put in prison all voices of reason from Southern Kaduna who dare to challenge his handling of this crisis… The primary responsibility of government as enshrined in the constitution is the protection of life and property of citizens irrespective of ethnic and/or religious persuasion. Any breach of this fundamental principle of social contract contravenes the very reason for which Government exists. Unfortunately, our government both at the Federal and State levels has failed woefully in this regard because of its inability to rise above ethnic and religious bias.

    “The killings with impunity in Southern Kaduna must not be allowed to continue. And Government in the State has a special and irreplaceable role in bringing this scourge to an end. The current Government in the State must follow the example of past Governments by initiating measures that would unify rather than divide the people of the State on ethnic and religious lines as this Government has been doing since its inception.”

    For over a year, southern Kaduna State has been the main focus of the Fulani militia campaign, with four of its eight Local Government Areas suffering regular massacres that have claimed at least 800 lives. The Kaduna State Government eventually deployed troops and police to the area in December 2016 to address the violence, but the killings have continued, with villagers also targeted as they tend their fields.

    Who are the Fulani?

    Fulani-ArmedThe Fulani are regarded as the world’s largest nomadic group: about 20 million people dispersed across Western Africa. In Nigeria, the Fulani comprise “the most populous and politically influential of more than 250 ethnic groups in the country. Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, is ethnic Fulani.

    The centuries-old Fulani heritage is pastoral, organised primarily around nomadic herding of cattle, sheep and goats, though some Fulani farm crops or live in urban areas. The Fulani are predominantly Muslim.

    As the frontier of the Sahara Desert has moved southward, Fulani herds have gradually been pushed southward toward Nigeria’s “Middle Belt,” a handful of states straddling the pre-colonial line dividing Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north from its Christian south. The Middle Belt is a farming region, and the advancing Fulani-owned herds have increasingly encroached on croplands.

    The resulting conflicts over land have taken on an ethnic and religious character, as many of the farmers of Nigeria’s Middle Belt are ethnic Berom, an indigenous people who are predominantly Christian. Armed Fulani have planned and executed operations that have killed and chased away thousands of Christians.

    The 2015 Global Terrorism Index described Fulani militants as the fourth deadliest terrorist organisation in the world.

    (Christian Solidarity Worldwide,World Watch Monitor
    Link: http://www.churchinchains.ie/news-by...easter-attack/

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    Default Re: "Bring Back Our Girls" The Kidnapped Chibok Girls and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

    Good news. 82 of the kidnapped Chibok girls have been released today (7/5/17)and are now safe.


    Boko Haram militants have released 82 schoolgirls out of a group of more than 200 whom they kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok three years ago in exchange for prisoners, the presidency said on Saturday.

    Around 270 girls were kidnapped in April 2014 by the Islamist militant group, which has killed 15,000 people and displaced more than two million during a seven-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria.

    Dozens escaped in the initial melee, but more than 200 remained missing for more than two years.

    Nigeria thanked Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross for helping secure the release of the 82 girls after "lengthy negotiations", the presidency said in a statement.

    President Muhammadu Buhari will receive the girls on Sunday afternoon in the capital Abuja, it said, without saying how many Boko Haram suspects had been exchanged or disclosing other details.
    From here: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ni...-idUSKBN1820P1


    Great work by all involved especially the Nigerian government. This development and the work and campaigning of the #Bringbackourgirls campaign reflects the very best of Nigeria and its people.

    The Bring back our girls campaign states that there are still 113 girls being held captive by the Islamic Boko Haram.

    There are also another estimated 1,500 other, mostly Christian, people of all ages been held captive by Boko Haram.
    Their relatives fear they will be forgotten because of the publicity rightly given to the Chibok girls.



    Here is a link to the Bring Back Our Girls site: https://qz.com/977813/bringbackourgi...prisoner-swap/

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    Default Re: "Bring Back Our Girls" The Kidnapped Chibok Girls and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

    Report from Church in Chains about the released girls: http://www.churchinchains.ie/news-by...irls-released/

    Excerpts:
    The Bring Back Our Girls campaign welcomed the releases and commended the government for its action but also stated that the freed girls require rehabilitation and trauma counselling. “It’s not just to bring them back home, we must ensure that they get the education they are supposed to have…it is time for them to be reunited with their families. Psychosocial therapy… there has to be rehabilitation. And at the end of the day, we want to have world leaders out of every one of them so that they can be what the terrorists did not want them to be.”
    .
    .
    .

    It is unclear what will happen to the 82 young women. Some 21 others who were released in October 2016 are still being kept in Abuja, ostensibly for counselling and have not been allowed to go back and live with their families, who live 800 km away in Chibok. Concerns have been expressed that the government is reluctant to allow them freedom because it doesn’t want details of their treatment by Boko Haram to become known.

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