18. 12. 2013 | News, Archive 2013

Peace Church in Northern Nigeria Attacked by 'Boko Haram'

German and Swiss Partners call for prayers

At the beginning of November church facilities and members of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in the villages of Ngoshe and Gavva in Northern Nigeria were the target of brutal attacks. This report has only now been confirmed by eye-witnesses. The Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) in Stuttgart and mission21 in Basel are both working in partnership with the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. They are dismayed by the situation there and are calling for prayers.

On 4th November a church and numerous houses were looted before being set on fire. "The Christians who were attacked put up resistance," Markus Gamache, administrative manager of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, told the Church's two partner organisations in Germany and Switzerland.

According to Gamache, houses belonging to Muslim families and the palace of the region's traditional Muslim leader were also set on fire: "As a result, there were at least nine people killed; two of them were members of our church. On 14th November there was a further attack on the village of Gavva, in which a second church and more houses were looted and burned down. The attacks originated from the terrorist group 'Boko Haram'."

"The attacks are particularly distressing, because Ngoshe and Gavva were precisely the places that the Basel Mission began its work in Nigeria in 1959," said Riley Edwards-Raudonat, the EMS's Africa Liaison Secretary. "It is hard to believe that a project that began amidst such hope and in which so many people have taken part, is now going up in flames," continued Edwards-Raudonat: "The Church of the Brethren is, furthermore, traditionally a church of peace that rejects all military violence, inspired by the Sermon on the Mount. Attacks on the EYN leave us stunned."

"We observe with dismay that the terrorists have 'liberated' villages from state authority and hoisted their flag above the locations," said Jochen Kirsch, responsible for programmes in Nigeria for mission21 in Basel. "Congregations hold their services in Northern Nigeria in constant fear of attacks and often only under police and army protection. Church-based development programmes also see themselves as under threat in many places." Kirsch continued: "Boko Haram's main opponents are not Christians, but the state with its administrative, security and education systems. This means that Muslims, in greater numbers than Christians, continue to be victims of Boko Haram's everyday violence: for example, security services, civil servants or simply children on their way to school in the morning."

The Nigerian government is combating the group with a massive police and military campaign. "The security services are also constantly violating human rights and have thus strengthened 'Boko Haram' rather than weakened it," said Jochen Kirsch.


Press Contact:
Corinna Waltz
, waltz@ems-online.org, Tel. +49 711 636 78 77, +49 178 62 000 53
Anna Wegelin
, anna.wegelin@mission-21.org, Tel. +41 61 260 22 49, +41 76 588 30 06

Jochen Kirsch
, programme lead for Nigeria, mission 21, jochen.kirsch@mission-21.org; Tel. +41 61 260 23 06