Northeast church: How we lost 8 370 to insurgency

NO fewer than 8,370 members of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria lost their lives to insurgency, the church said on Thursday.

With 1.5million worshippers, it is one of the largest indigenous Christian denominations in the Northeast and is known in Hausa as Ekklesiyya Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN).

Its President, Rev Joel Billi, said at a briefing that eight pastors of the church were killed by Boko Haram, with over 700,000 members displaced.

He added that 53 of the EYN 60 District Church Councils were directly affected by insurgency, with 300 of the church’s 586 branches either burnt or damaged by Boko Haram.

“An uncountable number of houses of our members was either burnt or looted,” he said.

The EYN President added that many members had been abducted and that 217 of the abducted 276 Chibok schoolgirls were members.

He urged President Buhari and Northeast governors to ensure the rescue of the remaining Chinook girls as well as Leah Sheribu, Alice Loksha and hundreds of others abducted by Boko Haram.

The military on Thursday said that it was not part of its responsibilities to unravel the sponsors of the Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) terror groups.

The coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, told reporters that it is the duty of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Department of State Services (DSS) to disclose the identities of those sponsoring the terrorists.

“The kind of weapons these terrorists are using, like the gun truck and other sophisticated weapons, are expensive. That’s to say that they are sponsored and heavily funded.

“But, it is not the duty of the military to uncover the sponsors. Our duty is to remain in the frontline and defeat terrorism and other criminality and that is what we are doing,” he said.

Also on Thursday, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai reiterated the need for a responsive synergy among security agencies.

Speaking in Sokoto while commissioning projects at the Ginginya Barracks, 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Buratai said the military will continue to remain resilient in its operations.

He said moving the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army from Maiduguri in Borno State was “strategic to tame and nip in the bud the activities of banditry and related criminal activities threatening the lives and peace of citizens.”

Buratai was represented by the Commandant, Nigerian Army Training Centre, Major General Muhammad Mahmud Mshellia

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