Over 8370 members and eight pastors of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), lost their lives in various offensives launched by the dreaded Boko Haram sect, the Church said on Thursday.
Its President, Rev. Joel Billi, said at a press conference in Yola, Adamawa State, that 25,000 members of the Church were currently taking refuge in neighboring Cameroun, while more than 700,000 were in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps due to terrorist attacks that had affected more than 1.5 million members, and caused huge damages to the denomination’s places of worship in Nigeria’s Northeast region.
“It could be recalled that EYN has lost over 8,370 members and eight pastors with the numbers increasing on daily basis. Over 700,000 members are displaced and about 25, 000 are currently taking refuge in Cameroun and Chad Republics. About 300 of the 586 churches have been either burnt or destroyed with uncountable number of houses belonging to our members looted or burnt too,” Billi said.
He explained that only seven, out of the 60 District Church Councils, were not directly affected by the insurgency, but said several of their members were abducted by the insurgents, with 217 out of the abducted 276 Chibok school girls belonging to the EYN, which he lamented, was the single Christian denomination worse hit by activities of the Boko Haram terrorists.
On the fight against the insurgency, the EYN President commended the renewed zeal by the military and other security agents, in tackling the menace. He however, called on the Federal Government and the state governments of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, to as matter of urgency, rescue the remaining abducted Chibok school girls and reunite them safely with their families.
“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, noting that there were still several villages and communities that had been deserted by their inhabitants due to continuous attacks by Boko Haram.
Billi urged the president, to as a matter of urgency, deploy at least a Battalion of military to the deserted areas behind the Gwoza Hills, to ensure the speedy return of the IDPs to their ancestral land. “Government should immediately reconstruct and rehabilitate all houses, schools and worship places, destroyed by the insurgents in the deserted villages, through the Northeast Development Commission.
Government should also deploy more security personnel to volatile areas to mitigate further attacks. The Federal Government should equally marshal out plans to evacuate the over 47,000 Nigerian refugees in Camerounian Camps, back to their ancestral homes, by the end of 2020.
We salute our front line health workers for putting their lives on the line for the generality of Nigerians. We sympathise with families who lost their loved ones, as a result of this global pandemic, and call on all Nigerians to adhere to safety protocols and guidelines so that the disease will be defeated”.