The sister of a man whose miraculous survival from a shot in the head by Boko Haram took him to testify to the US Congress, has been killed with two of her children.
Tabita Adamu, 44, her 18-year-old daughter, Haske, and 11-year-old son, Nuhu died in the July 5 bomb blast during church services in north-east Nigeria, together with their pastor, an elder and the bomber.
Tabita’s brother Habila has become quite well-known after he travelled abroad telling how he‘d been ‘left for dead’ in 2012.
The 5 July attack took place between 9 and 10 a.m. as worshippers gathered inside the City of David Parish Of Redeemed Christian Church Of God, in Potiskum, in the state of Yobe – one of three states most affected by the 6-year militant Islamist insurgency Boko Haram.
It also killed the church’s new pastor, Rev. Daniel Dotun Okerinola and a church elder, whose name is not known. Rev. Okerinola had moved from the southern town of Ibadan to take over the church about three months ago. His wife and three children had yet to join him in Potiskum.
Toyin Gbadegesin, Yobe police spokesman, confirmed the Potiskum deaths.
“A male suicide bomber at about 10 a.m. detonated a bomb at The Redeemed Church, Jigawa area, in Potiskum, killing five persons,’’ he told reporters.
Tabita, a mother of eight, arrived for the service with six of her children, but sent four of them home to get money for the collection, said her brother, Habila Adamu.
‘‘That’s how God miraculously saved the six children and their father from death,’’ he said.
Habila Adamu is a survivor of a Boko Haram attack. Militants shot him in the face in November 2012 when he refused to renounce his faith. He was left for dead in front of his wife and son, but survived – an incident he recounted in November 2013 to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Terrorism.
His testimony helped to encourage the US State Department to designate Boko Haram a ‘terrorist organisation’.
The July 5 blast which killed his sister brought back memories, Adamu told World Watch Monitor.
‘‘They fired at my head, and left me for dead but I survived miraculously,” he said. “I know that God gave me the opportunity of a second chance to become a voice of the voiceless, the voice of the persecuted Christians, not only in Nigeria, but in the entire world.
‘‘God kept me alive in order to make other persecuted Christians strong.”
The six surviving children are in shock and being comforted by relatives. Their father collapsed at the news, and is in hospital.
Habila Adamu said Christians are well aware of the dangers they face in north-east Nigeria.
“We know that going to church is a matter of life or death. But we have already in our mind that no one can stop us from worshipping our God, no matter the risks. We thank God because he always gives us the ability to stand for Him,” he said.
Northern local sources report escalating violence, with as many as 32 churches being burned and “many Christians” killed in Yobe’s neighbouring Borno state over the past few days.
Hours later, twin attacks in Nigeria’s central city of Jos killed at least 44 people and injured 47. No group claimed responsibility for these twin attacks, but it’s believed Boko Haram carried them out.
The July 5 attacks in Potiskum and Jos brought condemnation from Nigeria’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, who described them as “heinous atrocity”.
“A Nigeria government spokesperson explained “Nigerians are a very religious people and President Buhari believes that the terrorists who wantonly attack our places of worship have wilfully declared war on all that we value, and must, therefore, be confronted with all our might and collective resolve.’’
The Jos bombings targeted a restaurant and a mosque; the Yantaya area mosque, it’s believed, to kill one of Nigeria’s most influential imans critical of Boko Haram. He’s survived a previous assassination attempt, reports the BBC.
Most Boko Haram violence has occurred in the north and east of the country, but the group has struck at the central city of Jos before.
Tension is high is Jos, with local reports after the twin bombs saying at least two churches had been set on fire, allegedly in retaliation for the mosque bombing, but police intervention prevented total destruction.
The Potiskum attack, along with the Jos twin blasts, capped a week of killings that has left over 200 people dead in north and central Nigeria.
There have been at least three suicide bombs in Potiskum this year. On 24 February, a man killed 15 and injured 53. Two days earlier, six people in a phone market were killed by a young girl suicide bomber. Her identity was unknown at the time, but she is a reminder to the world that Boko Haram still holds captive the majority of the 276 schoolgirls originally abducted in April 2014.
Pastor Daniel Awayi of one Potiskum church has been attacked five times by the Islamic terrorist group, the most recent in January when yet another young female suicide bomber detonated a bomb at his church gates. No one died that time, though several were injured. Awayi does his best to support victims of the attacks. In January, Awayi came to the UK and spoke to World Watch Monitor. ln a video, he talks about two families who became casualties of Boko Haram terrorism in November 2012: one is Habila Adamu.
Today (7 July), at publication, at least 20 have been killed in a suicide attack at a government building in the Sabon Gari area of the northern city of Zaria. ‘Sabon Gari’ areas are found in many northern cities and were traditionally the areas where workers migrated from other parts of Nigeria, especially the Christian south.