JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Islamic State-affiliated terrorists have executed a Christian university student kidnapped earlier this month in northeast Nigeria, sources said.
In a video that Site Intelligence Group reported was released on the Islamic State’s Amaq news website, a boy of indeterminate age with a pistol shoots and kills Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a member of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) who was kidnapped on Jan. 9 on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Highway while returning to studies in Maiduguri, Borno state.
The armed, masked boy in the video, a member of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) according to Site, says in the Hausa language that the Christian from Plateau state will be killed in retaliation for “atrocities against us,” possibly referring to Muslim-Christian violence in the 2001 Jos riots.
“This is one of the Christians from Plateau state,” the boy says. “We want to tell all Christians that we have not forgotten what you did to our parents and grandparents. Christians all over the world must know that we will never forget their atrocities against us, until we avenge the bloodshed visited on us.”
The video then shows the boy shooting Dalep in the head from behind, and then in the back, killing him.
After Dalep was kidnapped, his family had received no information about his whereabouts. It is unclear when the execution took place, but Site reported that it took place at an unidentified outdoor area in Borno state.
From Jing village in Plateau state’s Pankshin County, according to a Jos resident originally from the area, Dalep was identified by members of his ethnic Mupun people as the one killed in the video. He was a second-year biology education student at the University of Maiduguri.
ISWAP in 2016 broke off from the rebel terrorist group Boko Haram, which originated in Maiduguri.
The Mupun Cultural and Development Association (MUCDA) on Wednesday (Jan. 22) confirmed the execution of Dalep in a press statement issued in Jos, with MUCDA spokesperson Kenzy Ngupar blaming Boko Haram. Many people in Nigeria make no distinction between ISWAP and Boko Haram.
“We have information that he was abducted on his way to school in Maiduguri, which led to the unfortunate video going ‘round of his killing,” Ngupar said. “At this point we condemn in its entirety the senseless abduction and killing of Nigerians in any part of the country and call on the government to step up practical efforts to address this growing menace in our country. MUCDA and indeed the entire Mupun nation is pained by this.”
Fabong Jemchang Yildam, chairman of the Plateau Youth Council (PYC), condemned the killing and declared three days of mourning and prayers among Christians.
“We are indeed pained that our young people have become targets for terrorists despite our peaceful and receptive nature,” Yildam said in a press statement on Wednesday (Jan. 22). “This gruesome murder of an innocent Plateau son is totally unacceptable and unjustifiable. It is an outrage to freedom of religion movement and respect for human lives.”
Saying the PYC strongly believes that humans are born free and equal and should achieve their full potential in a safe and loving society irrespective of background and belief, Yildam said the execution of Dalep was a serious setback in the quest for religious freedom.
“We demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice and receive punishment commensurate with the crime they have committed,” Yildam said. “Government must intensify the war against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in Nigeria and must ensure the safety of Nigerians anywhere in the country.”
Yildam called on Plateau youths to wear black armbands or black clothes in mourning through Friday (Jan. 24).
“We remain law-abiding even in this period of darkness and mourning,” the PYC spokesperson said. “We also commiserate with the immediate family of the martyr and others whose lives were untimely snuffed out. For the victory of evil over good can only be temporary.”
Lutheran Pastor Killed
In Adamawa state in northeast Nigeria, Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) officials confirmed the killing of Dennis Bagauri at his church site home in the Nassarawa Jereng area, Mayo Belwa County, on Monday (Jan. 20).
He was shot to death the same day the district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, Lawan Andimi, was beheaded by Boko Haram in the Michika area of Adamawa state.
Musa Filibus, archbishop of LCCN, issued a press statement on Tuesday (Jan. 21) from the church’s headquarters in Numan town, Adamawa state, saying gunmen believed to be from Boko Haram killed Pastor Bagauri.
“The church leadership condemns in the strongest term the killing of the man of God, who has been in the vineyard of service to God,” Filibus said. “Please pray for the security agents to fish out the killers of our pastor.”
Yola resident Rebecca Musa told Morning Star News in a text message that “the men armed with guns broke into the LCCN where the pastor lives and shot him dead at night when all persons in the area had gone to sleep.”
Besides leading a congregation, Pastor Bagauri also served as an adviser on religious matters to the Adamawa government. The state police commissioner said investigations are underway.
Adamawa Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri on Tuesday (Jan. 21) sent his condolences to the church and the family of the slain pastor, whom he described as “a God-fearing man, easy-going, and with great humility.”
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.