Abuja, Kaduna, Yola — President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday condemned the killing of Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Pastor Lawan Andimi, by Boko Haram, describing it as cruel, inhuman and deliberately provocative.
Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, expressed sorrow that the terrorists still killed Andimi after expressing their willingness to release him to third parties.
Andimi was killed on Monday after the insurgents had rejected the N50 million ransom offered them.
The president condoled with the Christian community in Nigeria, the government and people of Adamawa State and the deceased's family over the cleric's murder.
He said the insurgents would continue to pay a heavy price for their actions, adding that they would eventually be defeated.
Buhari appealed to nations supporting Boko Haram and Islam in West Africa (ISWA) terrorist groups to end such support, knowing that the only goal of the terrorists is to unleash destruction on the West African sub-region.
Andimi's killing was announced yesterday in Yola by the Adamawa State Chairman of CAN, Rev. Dami Mamza.
He said the Boko Haram insurgents, who had initially demanded €200 million as ransom, rejected the N50 million offered them and stopped further negotiations with a vow to kill the abducted cleric.
However, the national body of CAN blamed the murder of Andimi on the alleged poor response to his abduction by the federal government.
Mamza said the insurgents severed negotiations and called the wife of the abducted pastor and told her that they would kill him on Saturday but postponed the execution till Monday.
Ahmad Salkida, a journalist with years of experience reporting the activities of the insurgents, in a series of tweets, confirmed that Andimi was killed on Monday.
"To break some news items can traumatise. I'm battling with one of such. Reverend Andimi, abducted by #BokoHaram was executed yesterday," Salkida tweeted.
Andimi was abducted on January 4, 2020 when Boko Haram insurgents attacked Michika and Madagali LGAs but were repelled by soldiers in synergy with local vigilante operatives.
Shortly after his abduction, Andimi was seen in a video posted on Twitter by Salkida, saying that he was captured by the insurgents.
Andimi pleaded with the Adamawa State Government and CAN leadership to rescue him.
The cleric, who spoke in Hausa and English intermittently, urged his family not to be afraid, adding that he would return home safely if it is the will of God.
He said: "I have never been discouraged because everything is in the hands of God. God who made them to take care of me and leave me alive will touch them... So, I am appealing to fellow reverends, particularly my president, Rev. Joel Billy, who is a strong man of love, that he should do his best to speak with our governor and other necessary agents for my release.
"These people (Boko Haram) have been treating me well. They have been feeding me with what I want to eat and they provided me with a nice place to sleep and everything. They have not done anything wrong to me and I believe that God, who made them to act in such a way, is still alive.
"By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife, children and colleagues and if the opportunity is not granted, then maybe it is the will of God. All well-wishers and colleagues should be patient. Don't cry, don't worry but thank God for everything."
On Christmas eve, a faction of Boko Haram affiliated to the Islamic State, killed 11 Christian captives in Borno State, saying the action was taken to avenge the deaths of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the late IS leader and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir, its spokesman, who were killed in Syria in October.
Four abducted aid workers of the Action Against Hunger, an international non-government organisation, were also killed by the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in December.
The insurgents said the aid workers were killed because of the breakdown of talks with the federal government.
CAN Blames FG over Brutal Murder of Andimi
Meanwhile, the CAN has blamed the murder of Andimi on poor response by the federal government.
The Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the association, Rev. Joseph Hayab, yesterday said the usual condemnation of these killings by the federal government without any concrete action was not enough.
Also, in a statement yesterday by CAN's Director, Legal and Public Affairs, Evangelist Kwamkur Vondip, the association said the Nigerian church was deeply saddened by the news of the murder of Andimi.
The association also noted that a clergyman, Rev Denis Bagauri, was on Sunday murdered by unknown gunmen in his residence at Mayo Belwa of Adamawa State.
"The church views the unabated kidnappings, extortions and killings of Christians and innocent Nigerians as shameful to the government that each time boasts that it has conquered insurgency. It is reprehensible and saddening that each time the government comes out to claim the defeat of the insurgency, more killings of our people are committed."
On the murder of Andimi, CAN said some questions were begging for answers including, what government did since he cried for help.
"What is the essence of SIM card registration if the authorities cannot use it to track down these killers who rely on phones as a means of communications to do their criminalities?
"What has become of intelligence gathering of our security agencies? Are this government and the security agencies still claiming that the war against these criminals in religious garments has been won despite all the killings?
"Is the government sincere in fighting these terrorists or merely paying lip service to the war against the insurgency?" CAN queried.
The Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab, urged the federal government to take urgent action against Boko Haram insurgents and other criminal elements that are making life unbearable for Nigerians.
Reacting to the beheading of Andimi, Hayab said the usual condemnation of these killings by government without any concrete action was not enough.
He said news of the killing of Andimi by Boko Haram had added to the sorrows, pains and suffering facing the church in Northern Nigeria.
"This sad news is coming just a day after our dear President Buhari met with the British Prime Minister. What other evidence do those in authorities in Nigeria want from us to convince them that our members, pastors and fellow citizens are no longer safe?
"We have said condemnation of atrocities without any concrete action is not good enough.
"What we are hearing and seeing is increase in fear by our people," he said.