Boko Haram have executed a prominent Anabaptist pastor who was chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The Rev Lawan Andimi was brutally murdered by the terror group on 20 January, with news of his death being received the following day by Nigerian journalist Ahmed Salkida, an expert on Boko Haram. The 58-year-old pastor, the father of nine children, was shot alongside an as-yet unidentified Nigerian Army soldier by the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram.
Earlier this month, Andimi was kidnapped from Michika township.
Islamists dressed in military fatigues attacked the area, cutting off electricity and forcing many inhabitants to flee to the hills surrounding the town. Although the attackers were later driven off by the Nigerian army, they retreated with Andimi as a captive.
Given Andimi’s local standing and position within CAN, an umbrella group covering most Christian groups in Nigeria, it has been speculated that he was deliberately targeted by Boko Haram, who killed hundreds of Christians last year.
The pastor made headlines earlier this month after affirming his Christian faith in a hostage video where he appealed for the government to negotiate with Boko Haram. Andimi concluded the video, released on 5 January, with the statement: “Don’t cry, don’t worry, but thank God for everything.”
Nigeria’s population of 196 million is almost equally split between Muslims and Christians, the majority of whom live in the south of the country. Most persecution of Christians takes place in the north of the country, where nearly 1500 Christians were killed last year, according to the Christian persecution charity Open Doors. Most violent persecution of Christians is associated with Islamist groups, or with Fulani herdsmen, who have increasingly clashed with Christian farmers due to regional drought.
Andimi’s killing follows a series of attacks by Boko Haram and its affliates on Christians in recent months. Eleven Christians were murdered by the terror group on Christmas eve, and four Catholic seminarians, abducted on the 8th of January, remain hostages of the organisation. A Nigerian bishop accused Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated government of enabling the persecution of Christians earlier this month.