Nigerian Church leader: 'My people are being killed like animals and the whole world is just watching'
The president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC) has made an impassioned plea for the world to intervene against the Boko Haram insurgents who have ravaged the north and east of the country.
In an interview for the Baptist World Alliance, Rev Samson Ayokunle expressed "consternation" at the attitude of the international community in the face of the destruction.
"The earnestness with which they intervened in the ISIL attack in Syria and Iraq, or the Taliban problem in Afghanistan ... is not shown in the case of Nigeria."
He accused the world community of devaluing Nigerian lives, saying: "Does it not matter to the rest of the world if Boko Haram continues to kill hundreds of people every week? Are these people less human than those being killed in other place where they have gone to directly intervene? My people are being killed like animals and the whole world is just watching."
Ayokunle was responding to the latest series of attacks by Boko Haram, including the destruction of Baga in Borno State, thought to have cost as many as 2,000 lives. An estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced as a result of the militant group's attacks, which included the abduction of more than 250 schoolgirls from Chibok village in April last year.
He accused the group of deliberately targeting Christians, saying: "The main targets in all these attacks are the Christians first and any other person that opposes them. Any town they enter, after killing the Christians there, they go ahead to bring down all the churches there, sparing the mosques. Major Christian cities such as Gwoza and Mubi among others have fallen to them. Christians in cities such as Michika and Baga are also on the run."
Ayokunle said that the Church was facing "severe persecution". In one town, Mubi, he said that not a single church was still standing, that Baptist schools had also been closed and that 2,000 Baptists, including the pastors, had fled through Cameroon. He said that while they had now returned to Nigeria, "They have become displaced and are now living in displaced people's camps scampering for food, without decent accommodation and naked."
He asked for support for the refugees and for prayer, saying: "Continue to join us in prayer so that the gates of hell might not prevail against the Church of Christ in Nigeria."