It is no longer news that Islamists have arrogated to themselves the right to convert people of other faiths to their religion by use of force. Using techniques ranging from subtle intimidations to outright physical massacres, Islamists in Nigeria have stridently pushed on with Usman dan Fodio’s agenda seeking “to dip the Koran into the Sea,” and bringing the entire nation under the Sokoto Caliphate by the blade of the sword.
Apologists however have always had alternative narratives for all the scheming and violence. When not met with outright denials, persecution of Christians can always be explained away as inter-ethnic tension, religion-neutral assaults by Boko Haram or Fulani herdsmen, regular geo-politics, war against corruption, or some other cliché.
In April 2014, 276 girls were abducted from the Christian village of Chibok in North East Nigeria. They couldn’t have been targeted for being Christians, we were told. And as if to confirm that, there was a shameful repeat abduction of another set of female students, this time from the largely moslem community of Dapchi in February 2018. However, unlike the Chibok case, where 112 still remain in captivity till date, all the abducted girls from Dapchi were released within 4 weeks, reportedly unmolested and laden with gifts. All of them, that is, except the only single Christian girl involved – Leah Sharibu!
Both government negotiators and the released peers of Leah confirm that the singular reason the 14 year old was not released was her refusal to renounce her Christian faith for Islam. Watch here on our blog, the moving musical video by Amir Shata demanding that all concerned should rise and secure the release of this precious Jewel of the Lord
On a related note, the latest national hero in Nigeria is the Imam who saved the lives of 300 Christians in Barkin Ladi, Plateau state by hiding them in his mosque and introducing them as Moslems to the rampaging mujahedeen. However, while not detracting from the courageous and innate humaneness of Imam Abdullahi Abubakar, we will like to observe that the story pointedly belied the official government claim that the killers were not after Christians!
And come to think of it, there is only a thin line between requiring a Christian to keep mute on being introduced as a Moslem, and requiring him to use his/her own mouth to claim being Moslem. We recall the story of Pastors Sabo Yakubu, Sylvester Akpan, and Rev George Orji who in 2009 refused to hide their Christian identities even in the face of the jihadist’s blade (see http://churcharise.blogspot.com/2009/10/tell-my-people-i-died-well-rev-george.html
While we thank God that the 300 in Plateau state were spared, we must be concerned that such situations are being taken as normal in present-day Nigeria. Even in a situation that saw over 200 Christians massacred by Islamists, the only focus and talk-point is the compassionate Imam, while the long-suffering faceless Christians, with their dead and maimed, remain mere statistics.
Now, what if the murderous mujahedeen had not trusted the Imam sufficiently to accept his word on behalf of the Christians? A simple announcement that all Moslems move to one side into liberty would have resulted in a Leah Sharibu situation!
Meanwhile abductions and forceful marriage of Christian girls under the sponsorship of Islamic authorities continue unabatedly in Nigeria. Mostly in the north, but not limited to it. (Recall the infamous case of Ese Oruru abducted from Bayelsa state to Kano by Yunusa “Yellow” Dahiru in 2016). Thank God for the Hausa Christian Foundation, HACFO, which is now systematically bringing these cases to light and fighting them within the limits of the resources available to the Foundation. Thank God also for the spate of successes in recent times. Please see moving details at www.hacfo.org. Contacts: Voice of Hausa Christians.firstname.lastname@example.org; +234 805 754 3004