- Cleric beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, on Thursday said Boko Haram demanded €2m (about N800m) ransom for Pastor Lawan Andimi, who was murdered by the sect on Monday.
The Christian leader explained that the insurgents initially demanded N50m and when the ransom was ready, they increased it to €2m.
Andimi, the Chairman of CAN in the Michika Local Government, Adamawa State, was abducted by Boko Haram insurgents on January 3 and subsequently killed despite being offered a N50m ransom.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Ayokunle added that Andimi was beheaded because he refused to convert to Islam.
He said, “Although, the group initially demanded the sum of N50m and, when against all odds, the ransom was ready, they asked for €2m. It was in the process that they reached out to our people in Adamawa State to notify them that since the gentleman had refused to be converted to Islam, they had decided to behead him.
“In the same state, just last Sunday, a clergyman, Rev. Denis Bagauri was murdered by gunmen in his residence at Mayo Belwa of Adamawa State, all because he was a Christian. You are also aware of the beheading of 11 Christians by the Islamic State in West Africa on Christmas Day of 2019 in Maiduguri including a bride-to-be.”
Ayokunle noted that Christians had become endangered species in their own country, adding that “the nation was under a siege orchestrated by Boko Haram terrorists, Fulani terrorist herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers” gradually overwhelming our security agencies.
The marauders, he said, had been invading predominantly Christian villages and towns.
The Christian leader said the atrocities increased with the advent of democracy, and introduction of Sharia law in some northern states, which he described as an outright violation of the 1999 Constitution.
Ayokunle faulted the Federal Government’s claim that the killer herdsmen and terrorists were from Libya, adding that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria had claimed responsibility and also justified the killings.
He noted, “The Federal Government has never deemed it fit to caution them, but instead, insisted that the herdsmen are stakeholders in the country.
“The Christian body demanded an overhaul of the security council with a view to bringing in new heads of all the security agencies and the para-military organisations “which no religion or part of the country will dominate.”
It also asked the FG to label the Miyetti Allah a terrorist organisation and arrest the leadership “who are sponsoring and perpetrating crimes in Nigeria and prosecute them for all the killings in Southern Kaduna, Benue, Plateau and Taraba states.
“The Federal Government should stop sending a delegation to all Islamic international organisations and let our Muslim counterparts be doing so as we are doing in all international Christian religious organisations.”
The CAN leadership also said it had declared January 31 to February 2, 2020, as days for special fasting and prayer for Nigeria in all churches.
Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Forum has condemned the killing of Andimi.
The ACF whose reaction came four days after the execution of the CAN leader by the sect, described the death as shocking and sad.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim-Biu, who made this known in a statement in Kaduna on Thursday, called on security agencies to strengthen their intelligence network with a view to tracking down the perpetrators.
The statement read, “Arewa Consultative Forum is shocked with the sad news of the gruesome murder of Rev. Lawan Andimi, the Branch Chairman of CAN in Michika in Adamawa State by the Boko Haram terrorists last Monday. Rev. Andimi was kidnapped two weeks ago and had been in the captivity of his abductors, while the Adamawa State Government was making frantic efforts to rescue him, sadly, the kidnappers brutally murdered him.”
“ACF once more calls on the security agencies and state governments to strengthen their intelligence network and track down the perpetrators of such heinous crimes especially the gruesome murder of Rev. Andimi and many other innocent persons abducted and killed by these criminals.”
“We equally appeal to the Federal Government and state governments to be firm and decisive in dealing with terrorists that have continued to disturb our peaceful coexistence and progress to serve as a deterrent. Enough of these senseless killings of innocent souls!”
Also, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has expressed sorrow over Andimi’s murder.
The PFN National President, Rev. Felix Omobude, in a statement on Thursday, expressed worries that the gains that had been reported against the sect appeared to have been rolled back.
He said, “We are worried that the gains that have been reported appeared to have been rolled back, with increasingly disturbing reports of the worsening level of insecurity being constantly received from the North-East about the activities of the Boko Haram sect.”
The PFN admonished the government to take the security of the citizens more seriously by injecting new ideas and strategies to revitalise the counter-insurgency operations and other anti-crime activities.
“The government should not be carried away with the assumption that the battle has been won but come up with a strategy, which might include the redeployment of the security chiefs, to bring in fresh ideas and revitalise the operation and find ways to tackle the acts of banditry, kidnappings and other heinous crimes being perpetrated across different parts of the country,” Omobude counselled.
Meanwhile, a member of the National Assembly, Yusuf Gagdi, has called on the Federal Government to review its policy on repentant Boko Haram members.
Gagdi, who represents Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, made the call at a press conference in Jos on Thursday following the execution of a member of his constituency, Mr Daciya Ropvil Dalep, by Boko Haram insurgents.
The late Dalep, a 200-Level student of Biology/Education at the University of Maiduguri was abducted on January 9, 2020 on his way to school from Jos and later killed by the insurgents on Tuesday.
Gagdi said, “I think the Federal Government should review its strategy regarding the repentant Boko Haram members. I am sure the government is sensitive about what it is doing but equally, they shouldn’t think they are doing the best, otherwise somebody who they think has been deradicalised and released may end up serving as informant to the insurgents.”