The largest indigenous Christian denomination in the Northeast of Nigeria has reported a death toll of more than 8,370 of its members due to attacks from the Boko Haram Islamic terror group.
The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, known in Hausa as Ekklesiyya Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), reportedly has 1.5 million members spread mostly across the Northeast of the nation. The majority of the Boko Haram slayings of EYN members have taken place in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States.
The Reverend Joel Billi, president of the EYN, said Thursday that the church — founded 97 years ago — has been the hardest hit by jihadists of any Christian denomination in the country. Among the massacred EYN members were eight pastors. More than 700,000 of the faithful have been displaced by the violence.
Billi added that 300 of the EYN’s 586 church buildings were either burned or damaged by Boko Haram and an “uncountable number of houses of our members were either burnt or looted.”
Boko Haram has also engaged in extensive kidnapping of church members with 217 of the abducted 276 Chibok schoolgirls belonging to the EYN, which is currently headquartered in Adamawa State.
Billi has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari as well as to the governors of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe to persevere in their efforts to rescue the remaining Chibok girls as well as the many others abducted by Boko Haram who are still missing.
“I also call with a loud voice, on the federal government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, to rescue Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha, and hundreds of others abducted by the Boko Haram,” he said.
Billi further asked Buhari to station soldiers in the deserted communities of the Borno State district of Gworza, so that residents who were displaced by Boko Haram can safely return home.