Reports of mass abductions of women and children and brutal murders in Nigeria ahead of Saturday’s (March 28, 2015) tightly contested presidential elections have prompted Open Doors to issue a call for fervent intercession for victims, their families and the nation.
According to Reuters, Boko Haram militants have kidnapped more than 400 women and children from the northern Nigerian town of Damasak that was freed this month by troops from Niger and Chad, residents said on Tuesday, 24 March.
“They took 506 young women and children in Damasak. They killed about 50 of them before leaving,” a trader, Souleymane Ali, told Reuters. “We don’t know if they killed others after leaving, but they took the rest with them.
”Violence targeting Christian communities in the central states of Nigeria, known as the Middle Belt, has increased dramatically. This comes ahead of the presidential elections on 28 March.
100 villagers slaughtered
World Watch Monitor reports that in the early hours of March 15 in a village in Benue state, close to the Cameroon border, 100 people, including women and children, were slaughtered by Fulani herdsmen who broke into private homes and started shooting at sleeping occupants.
A witness who escaped the killings said, “We were still sleeping when they entered our village and started shooting sporadically in all directions killing every human and animal in sight.”
The Fulani attackers destroyed crops and set houses ablaze in what was described by a local priest as the worst attack by the herdsmen in four years.
Presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari, himself an ethnic Fulani, condemned the attack as “killings in cold blood”.
Many Fulani are known to have strong links with regional Islamist movements. They are largely a nomadic tribe, spread across national boundaries and are found in countries from Senegal to Sudan. Since 2011 hundreds of lives have been lost during raids or because of targeted killings by Fulani, with many victims from Christian communities.
Noting that violence in Nigeria is escalading in the build-up to the presidential elections, Open Doors requests fervent intercession for those that were abducted, their families and Nigeria as a whole.
“Pray that the presidential elections will not be thwarted and that the military and joint taskforces fighting Boko Haram, will make breakthroughs in securing peace in Nigeria,” urges Open Doors.
Nigeria has ordered the closure of all its land and sea borders ahead of Saturday’s tightly contested elections, reports the BBC.
Intelligence reports indicated that foreigners planned to cross into Nigeria to vote, Interior Minister Patrick Abba Moro told the BBC.
The presidential and parliamentary polls are expected to be the most tightly contested since military rule ended in 1999.
Regional forces battling Boko Haram insurgency along the northern-eastern border have been recapturing territory from the Ismalist terrorists in the last six weeks.
A government statement said the borders would be shut from midnight on Wednesday to midnight on Saturday, local time, to ensure the vote went off peacefully.
President Goodluck Jonathan is facing a strong challenge from ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.
Thousands of Nigerians who fled the six-year insurgency, and are taking refuge in neighbouring states, would not be able to vote, reports the BBC’s Habiba Adamu from the capital, Abuja.
Boko Haram has carried out cross-border raids in Cameroon, Niger and Chad.It has denounced the elections as un-Islamic. A state of emergency is in force in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, three Nigerian states where Boko Haram is strongest.
Sources: Reuters, World Watch Monitor, Open Doors SA, BBC