JOS, Nigeria, January 21, 2020 (Morning Star News) – The Rev. Lawan Andimi had a treasured life, a loving family, an affectionate congregation, respect from his colleagues.
The kidnapped district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in Michika County, in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, had stated in a video that he trusted in God should he lose his life to Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram. The rebel militants executed the father of eight children on Monday (Jan. 20), the head of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) confirmed today.
Ahmad Salkida, a Muslim journalist who has been a primary means for Boko Haram to release information, reported in a tweet today that the group beheaded Pastor Andimi on Monday afternoon.
“To break some news items can traumatize. I’m battling with one of such. Reverend Andimi, abducted by #BokoHaram was executed yesterday,” Salkida tweeted. “Rev. Andimi was a church leader, a father to his children and the community he served. My condolences go to his family.”
CAN President Samson Ayokunle today confirmed in a comment to the Nigerian newspaper the Daily Post that Pastor Andimi had been executed.
Pastor Andimi had said in a Boko Haram video released by Salkida on Jan. 5 that he hoped to be reunited with his wife, children and colleagues.
“If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God,” he said. “I want all people close and far, colleagues, to be patient. Don’t cry, don’t worry, but thank God for everything.”
Pastor Andimi, who also served as chairman of CAN’s local chapter, was kidnapped on Jan. 2 when Boko Haram attacked two Christian communities in the area.
In the video released on Jan. 5, the pastor called on church leaders to speak out for him and urge Adamawa Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri to intervene to secure his release.
“I have never been discouraged, because all conditions that one finds himself is in the hand of God,” Pastor Andimi said in the video.
Strongly Worded Statement
CAN President Ayokunle said in a press statement that the execution of Pastor Andimi was “gruesome, unfortunate and a shame on the federal government,” according to Nigerian newspaper The Nation.
“What has become of intelligence-gathering of our security agencies?” Ayokunle said in the statement. “Is this government and the security agencies still claiming that the war against these criminals in religious garments has been won despite all the killings? Is the government sincere in fighting these terrorists or merely paying lip service to the war against the insurgency? Is there any hope that our security is guaranteed under this government?”
CAN’s director of legal and public affairs, Kwamkur Vondip, reportedly said in a statement that the church did “everything within her reach to secure the safe release of this pastor gentleman but it was not possible because they didn’t have the military power to do so,” according to The Nation.
“Just last Sunday, a clergyman, Rev. Denis Bagauri, was murdered by unknown gunmen in his residence at Mayo Belwa of Adamawa state,” Vondip reportedly said. “The church views the unabated kidnappings, extortions and killings of Christians and innocent Nigerians as shameful to the government that each time boasts that it has conquered insurgency.”
In the strongly-worded statement, Vondip said it was reprehensible and saddening that each time the government claims the defeat of Boko Haram, more killings are committed.
“In the light of the current developments and the circumstantial facts surrounding the prevailing upsurge of attacks against the church, it will be difficult for us to believe that the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari is not colluding with the insurgents to exterminate Christians in Nigeria, bearing in mind the very questionable leadership of the security sector that has been skewed towards a religion and region!
“Is that lopsidedness not a cover-up for the operation of the insurgency? If not, why couldn’t the well-equipped security agents of Nigeria get this man killed rescued?”
Vondip urged the government to ensure the release of Leah Sharibu, kidnapped from a high school in Dapchi, Yobe state in February 2018, and hundreds of other victims of Boko Haram and splinter group the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP).
“A government that cannot protect the governed is a failed government,” Vondip said. “Can the government tell us what they did since Rev. Andimì cried out to them for help? ... If the security agencies claim the terrorists are operating outside the country, why is it possible for these hoodlums to invade the country, kill, maim, burn and kidnap without any convincing checks on the part of the security agencies?
“Since the government and its apologists are claiming the killings have no religious undertones, why are the terrorists and herdsmen targeting the predominantly Christian communities and Christian leaders?
“If the security agencies are not living up to the expectations of the government, why hasn’t it overhauled them with a view of injecting new visionary ones into the security system?”
He said that as long as the government refuses to act, the crimes will continue.
“We are almost losing hope in government’s ability to protect Nigerians, especially Christians who have become endangered species under its watch,” he said.
Ayokunle called on the international community to come to the aid of Nigeria, “especially, the Nigerian church, so that we might not be eliminated one by one.”
President Buhari, in a statement to the Daily Post, said security forces were working continuously to secure the release of hostages and appealed for Nigerians not to see terrorist attacks and plans as a religious fight or persecution of Christians.
“Not seeing terrorists as they should be is exactly what they wish to divide Nigerians,” Buhari said in the statement. “Nigerians must continue to be united in ensuring that they do not subscribe to the terrorists’ message of division. Unfortunately, some leaders and politicians seek to make political capital from our religious differences.
“As we fight Boko Haram on the ground, so too must we tackle their beliefs: stability and unity in face of their hatred is itself a rejection of their worldview. This government shall never tolerate religious intolerance. We clearly and unambiguously restate our support for the freedom to practice whichever belief you wish. The politicization of religion – as forbidden by the constitution – has no place in Nigeria.”
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.
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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.
Photo courtesy: Ahmad Salkida/©Morning Star News