John Yakubu had nothing. When he and his family were forced
to flee Attagara, a village in northeastern Nigeria, after a Boko Haram attack,
they were just barely surviving in a refugee camp. Boko Haram terrorists have
viciously killed thousands, destroyed villages, burned homes, businesses and
churches, and kidnapped hundreds of women, including more than 200 girls from a
Chibok school in April, intent on creating an Islamic state in northern
The attacks against Attagara were well-planned and carried
out with typical brutality. Over 100 militants dressed in military uniforms swarmed
the predominantly Christian village just as Sunday church services were
beginning on June 1. The rebels opened fire on the village and went after
people with their machetes. 55-year-old
Sawaltha Wandala witnessed the Boko Haram slaughtering children at a church as
he arrived for the second service. He saw the men throw one child into a ditch.
More concerned for the child than his own safety, he picked up the 6-year-old boy,
who had survived being severely slashed, and immediately rushed to take the
child to the hospital in Cameroon. Sawaltha was stopped by five insurgents, who
grabbed the boy from his arms and beheaded him, before turning to beat Sawaltha
with tree branches. They finished their attack striking him in the head with a
large rock, leaving him for dead with blood running from his nose and mouth.
After decimating the village and sending residents fleeing,
Boko Haram returned two days later in a second series of attacks on several
other villages in the Gwoza district. The back to back attacks left an
estimated 200 people, including small children, dead. John Yakubu and his
family were among those who fled across the border into neighboring Cameroon.
With his family facing starvation in the refugee camp, John
decided to make a quick trip back to Attagara to retrieve some of his animals
hoping he could sell them to support his family. Though it was dangerous, there
seemed to be no other choice. At home, he decided to pick up some of the
family’s other belongings, including the family Bible.
Boko Haram insurgents spotted him entering the house, and
quickly captured him. “We know you’re John,” the militants said to him. “You
must convert to Islam or else you will die a painful death.”
When John refused, the men tied him to a tree binding his
arms and legs. The men hacked both of John’s hands with a heavy knife and
mocked him. “Can you become a Muslim now?”
“You can kill my body, but not my soul,” John shouted in
Using a machete as well as the knife, the men continued to
torture John. They repeatedly cut into his feet and his back, stopping only to
ask him if he would give up his faith in Christ and follow Allah. John refused.
“We will show you,” they told him. The insurgents used an axe to cut so deeply
into his knee that it reached the bone. His head was slashed with a knife.
Eventually, John lost consciousness. At some point, the
terrorists left, and John was left bleeding and tied to the tree for three days
before someone rescued him and he was taken to a hospital in a coma.
In the hospital, a VOM worker met John. When the worker asked
John how he felt about his attackers, he replied, “I have forgiven the Islamic militants, because they did not
know what they are doing.”
Some reports indicate that Boko Haram militants have killed
three thousand people this year alone, and vicious raids continue with alarming
frequency, leaving many seriously wounded. VOM is assisting more than 30 people
who were seriously injured in the attacks in Gwoza, in addition to providing
assistance to refugees driven out in the crisis.
Source: VOM Sources
Posted: August 25, 2014