In September 2020 I wrote about terrorism in Nigeria at the hands of Fulani tribesmen and Boko Haram. Not only is terrorism afflicting Nigerians, particularly ethnic Christians in the south of Kaduna State, but Nigerians are also labouring under the repression of Government corruption and injustice.
While the Barnabas Fund reports that Nigerian Christians have called on the International Criminal Court to act against the genocide perpetrated by Boko Haran, Fulani militants and other extremists, nothing seems to be happening on that front.
Meanwhile in Ethiopia the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is causing havoc in the north, terrorizing and spreading lies about the situation, destabilizing the country. Unfortunately they seem to have favour with the US government.
In Eritrea, the government is seizing church schools and church run medical centres.
Bandits competing to spread terror in Nigeria
Bethel Baptist Church school is on the outskirts of Kaduna City. It has some 180 students, about 160 of which are boarders. Morning Star News reports that most of the students were kidnapped by armed Fulani bandits on 5 July, who later claimed they had 121 students in their custody. The students are apparently in good condition but their whereabouts is unknown.
This is the fourth mass school kidnapping in Kaduna State since December 2020. In response to this latest kidnapping, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the military, police and intelligence agencies to ensure safe and early release of all kidnapped victims.
But can this be believed? Reports are inconsistent, with Government officials saying one thing and citizens and students themselves telling different stories. It seems that corruption still has a hold on authorities, which seem reluctant to come to the aid of those suffering.
There is some encouraging news, however. Shortly afterwards, bandits also attempted a mass kidnapping at the nearby Faith Academy, a secondary school belonging to the Living Faith Church Worldwide. The bandits managed to breach the perimeter fence, only to be repelled by soldiers.
The Kaduna State government ordered the immediate closure of 13 schools, all private or church-run, located in areas identified as vulnerable to attacks by bandits. Faith Academy's school management plans to relocate some students to an undisclosed location where they can 'continue with the preparation for their exams'.
Previously, in the early hours of Sunday 4 July, Fulani bandits raided the staff quarters of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Training Centre, Zaria Town. The bandits broke in, firing indiscriminately, before escaping with eight hostages, comprised of staff - including a nurse with her infant child - and a security guard. It was the third time the training hospital had been attacked.
Now, Nigeria's Daily Trust reports (28 June) that Boko Haram, Ansaru and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) 'are competing with one another in a mass membership drive among the ranks of bandits terrorising most of the North West and part of North Central states.’
Conflict in Ethiopia
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's Prosperity Party has won the 21 June elections, securing 410 of 436 seats in the federal parliament where elections were held. No voting occurred in Tigray on account of conflict, and Oromo opposition parties boycotted the polls. Polling delayed due to insecurity will be held in September.
The election was peaceful despite concerns it might be chaotic or marred by violence [see analysis by Gregory Copley, President, International Strategic Studies Association, from Addis Ababa (24 June).] While PM Abiy now has a mandate to advance reforms, opposition will remain fierce.
On 28 June, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) - the Marxist organisation that dominated, terrorised and robbed Ethiopia for three decades - regained control of Mekelle (the Tigray capital). The TPLF's boast that it had routed the far superior Ethiopian military, is nothing but a lie.
As it turns out, on 28 June, the Ethiopian government announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew Tigray's interim administration from Mekelle, paving the way for the TLPF to retake Mekelle essentially uncontested. The TPLF rejected the ceasefire and vowed to continue fighting until all government troops are driven from Tigray and all territorial losses are reversed (which is not going to happen). After being paraded through the streets, some 6000 captured Ethiopian troops were imprisoned in Tigray.
As Stratfor (geopolitical intelligence) notes (1 July), the TPLF victory in Tigray 'risks triggering more conflict elsewhere in the country, placing both Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's political future and his economic reform plans in peril ... The conflict in Ethiopia will likely worsen over the coming months'. Among those at risk are the mostly Orthodox Christian ethnic Amhara.
An article by Gregory Copley (Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, 2 July) indicates that Prime Minister Abiy 'gave in to immense pressure from the US government, which had threatened to propose - through the UN Security Council - an armed intervention in Ethiopia to stop an "humanitarian crisis” in the region ...
What is significant,' Copley adds, 'is that there has been no independent verification of the claims of Ethiopian and Eritrean government atrocities against the Tigrean people.' [NOTE: The TPLF has long enjoyed a privileged relationship with the US government]
Oppression in Eritrea
On 21 June 2021, Catholic media reported ‘procedures have begun for the confiscation or, alternatively, the closure of our remaining educational institutions, from pre-schools to intermediate primary schools, scattered throughout the country’. Some of the schools being seized were built by Italian missionaries more than 70 years ago.
The government seizure of Church-owned and run schools and health clinics is a terrible blow to the Church, which stands to lose assets and influence. Critically, it is also a terrible blow to Eritrea’s poor and needy who have long benefited from these services.
Please pray for these beleaguered nations
For Nigeria, that God will intervene for the release of captives, protection of His church and for the persecuted and long-suffering Church to have grace to keep on loving their Muslim neighbours, bearing witness to the God of all grace, Nigeria's only hope. Pray also for constitutional reform to occur so state governments can provide security to citizens under their jurisdiction.
For Ethiopia, that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would have courage and clarity in his decision making for the good of his people. May God open the eyes of authorities on the world stage to see what atrocities are being carried out and their consequences.
For Eritrea, please pray that God may intervene to protect his church and its services, and to encourage his people in the face of blatant repression.
Aira Chilcott is a retired secondary school teacher with lots of science andtheology under her belt. Aira is a panellist and editor for PSI and indulges inreading, bushwalking and volunteering at a nature reserve. Aira is married to Billand they have three adult sons.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html