The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has announced the killing of its Chairman in Michika Local Government Area, Adamawa State, Reverend Lawan Andimi, by Boko Haram insurgents, Premium Times has reported.
Andimi was abducted by the insurgents January 2 when the insurgents invaded Michika.
He hailed from Kwada village in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno but was pastoring in Michika where he was abducted.
CAN chairman in Adamawa State, Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza said Andimi was killed on Monday.
“Since yesterday when we heard that Boko Haram killed Rev. Lawan Andimi we were all thrown into shock and agony.
‘’He was one of our great leaders in northern Adamawa zone, because at some point, the insurgents reached out for negotiations, and the church was still trying to see how they can get on with the terms.
‘’Three days after his abduction, the insurgents have reached to his family and leaders of EYN for negotiations.
‘’They demanded the huge sum of £2 million as ransoms.
‘’In fact, on Sunday, we thought certain agreements were reached and achieved only to now hear and confirmed his execution and may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace!
He said out of the £2 million demanded by Boko Haram as ransom, only N50 million could be raised but the insurgents rejected it.
Mamza said negotiations were still going on when Andimi was beheaded.
“Pastor Lawan was beheaded yesterday. Negations were still ongoing when they stopped calling. They were offered N50 million but they rejected it,” he said.
Mamza said the insurgents called Andimi’s wife last week to tell her they would kill her husband on Saturday but that somehow they waited till Monday.
The CAN chairman regretted that Christians are increasingly becoming victims of wanton killings.
He said Pastor Dennis Bagauri of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) was killed in Jereng, Mayo-Belwa area of Adamawa State.
He added, “It is now clear that Christians are not protected by the government. We don’t feel like we have a government.”
Mamza called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, in the spirit of humanity, work for the release of all the people in Boko Haram’s captivity.
He said, ‘’There are still hundreds in their hands and only God knows when will they regain their freedom. For God and humanity sake we want Nigeria’s government to urgently do something.’’
Andimi, had in a video clip released recently by the insurgents, appealed to the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, to help rescue him.
He was heard in the video saying “I have never been discouraged because all conditions that one finds himself …is in the hand of God. God who made them to take care of me. So, the summary of my speech; I am appealing to my colleagues, reverends, particularly my president, Reverend Joel Billy who is a strong man, a man of compassion and man of love. He can do all his best to speak to our governor, Umaru Jibrilla (Fintiri) and other necessary agents for my release here.”
He further asked his family not to “sorrow for him, since God’s will must be respected.”
Reacting, the Governor Fintiri described Andimi’s killing as barbaric.
In a statement by his Director General of Media and Communication, Solomon Kumanga, Fintiri expressed deep sadness by the “gruesome execution” of the clergyman.
Also reacting, Amnesty International (AI) condemned the killing, adding that crimes committed by the insurgent must not go unpunished.
Director of AI in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, urged the government to rescue all those in Boko Haram’s captivity.
“Since December last year, Boko Haram has been escalating attacks on civilians, commuters, infrastructure and humanitarian facilities across northeast,” he said.
“Amnesty International is appalled by reports that Reverend Lawan Andimi, the chairman of a local chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), was killed by Boko Haram yesterday,” the statement said.
“With this horrific murder and an increasing number of attacks in recent weeks, Boko Haram has again shown its brazen disregard for the sanctity of life. These deplorable crimes must not go unpunished.
“It is appalling that Boko Haram followed up the killing of Rev. Lawan Andimi on Monday with an attack on his village – in Chibok local government Borno state. Targeting civilians is a crime under international law.
“Boko Haram must immediately stop its attacks on civilians. All those responsible for war crimes and other human rights violations and abuses in Nigeria must be brought to justice in a fair trial.
“The Nigerian authorities must re-double their efforts to rescue the hundreds of civilians still detained by Boko Haram.”
A U.S. based watchdog, Open Doors USA, had in a report released on January 15, rated Nigeria 12th among 50 nations of the world where it is difficult to practice Christianity due to persecution.
Nigeria was rated 5th among the African countries where Christians are most persecuted, coming behind Somalia, Libya, Eritrea and Sudan.
Other Africa countries listed are Egypt, Algeria, Mauritania, Central Africa Republic, Morocco, Burkina Faso and Mali. Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cameroon and Niger also made the list.
Chief Executive Officer of Open Doors, David Curry, who released the 2020 World Watch List, said Nigeria remained the most violent country in the world where Christianity is practised as far as Open Doors data can track.
He said, “The difference this year is primarily because, in Nigeria, Boko Haram has changed tactics. They have gone from assassination and these kinds of things to roadside assaults on Christians and Kidnappings. So we have seen a jump in those kinds of things. But Boko Haram is also spreading its wings into Cameroon and into Chad but also into Burkina Faso.”
Curry said the Fulanis were perpetrating violence in farming communities in Nigeria, especially with a view to pushing Christians from those communities.
“I think it is wrong to look at (Fulani) as simply having territorial issues. They have an ideology that is historically being radicalised and they have an agenda to push Christians out of these communities,” he said.
“The cover story that somehow these are their ancient lands and so forth doesn’t justify unlawful behaviour against Christians who live there.”
Curry added, “The greatest tragedy of Nigeria’s ineffectual response to Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen is now parts of Cameroon and those other areas like Burkina Faso are greatly affected.”
Media reports had quoted a rights group sometimes ago as saying that no fewer than 1,000 Christians in Nigeria were slaughtered by the Fulani herdsmen or Boko Haram militants in 2019 and over 6,000 were killed since 2015.
On December 24, 2019, a faction of Boko Haram affiliated to the Islamic State, killed 11 Christian captives in Borno State.
The group said the action was taken to avenge the deaths of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the late IS leader, and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir, its spokesman, who were killed in Syria in October.
Similarly, four abducted aid workers of the Action Against Hunger, an international non-government organisation, were also killed by the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in December.
The insurgents claimed that the aid workers were killed because of the breakdown of talks with the federal government.
Five aid workers who were kidnapped in December were lucky as they were released from captivity by the insurgents.
One of them, Jennifer Samuel, while speaking with journalists, said she met another abductee, Alice, who told her that Leah Sharibu was alive.
Leah was abducted alongside 109 other girls from their secondary school in Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018.
While most of the girls were released, Leah was denied freedom after refusing to renounce her Christian faith for Islam.
She said, “I actually met Alice that was abducted two years ago. All of them need our prayers earnestly. We need to stand and pray for them; it is only God that can do it.
“Alice is okay but she said she has accepted her fate since she has stayed there for two years and she said Grace and Leah are fine. I didn’t see Leah but Alice said she is okay. I only saw Alice.”