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Boko Haram Grabs Land of 10,000 Christians in Chibok Since 2021

Chibok Christians Accuse Government of Having ‘Blind Eyes and Deaf Ears’

By Mike Odeh James and Luka Binniyat

(Maiduguri) An unreported calamity has fallen on the embattled Chibok community, site of the government school for girls that Boko Haram terrorists attacked 10 years ago, shocking the world. It wasn’t long before First Lady Michelle Obama herself led the cry “Bring back our girls!”

The good news from the Nigerian army is that since the beginning of this year, 386 captives of Boko Haram (only some of whom were Chibok girls) have been rescued from the desert-like Sambisa Forest. In recent months, a trickle of the remaining Chibok girls have been rescued from Boko Haram as the terrorist refuges in the Lake Chad area collapse under army pressure.

But that good news is belied by the fact that some of the parents and relatives of the kidnapped Chibok girls are being driven off their ancestral lands by Boko Haram. The land grabs, which started in 2021, have happened under the blind eyes of state- and federal authorities, according to residents interviewed by TruthNigeria.  

Kibaku Christians Targeted for Replacement by Muslims

“Bring Back Our Land!” Mr. Yakubu Nkeki, the President of the Association of Parents of Kidnapped Chibok Girls. credit: Mike Odeh James.
“Bring Back Our Land!” Mr. Yakubu Nkeki, the President of the Association of Parents of Kidnapped Chibok Girls. credit: Mike Odeh James.

The 30,000 people living in Chibok, chiefly of the Kibaku ethnic group, are predominantly Christian and have faced forced displacement, land confiscation, and threats of death or forced conversion to Islam.

More than 10,000 Kibaku Christians have been driven off their lands by Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State in West Africa Province), according to Mr. Yakubu Nkeki, the President of the Association of Parents of Kidnapped Chibok Girls.

“This eviction of Christians from their ancestral lands started around March 2021 when Boko Haram started confiscating Christian lands and giving it out to Muslims,” Nkeki said.

“The affected villages were once home to thriving Christian communities, but now they are largely deserted. The terrorists have confiscated the farmlands and reallocated them to Muslims, leaving the displaced Christians without a source of livelihood,” Nkeki told TruthNigeria correspondents in an exclusive chat on May 12, 2024.

Residents speak of mass expulsion and intimidation

Residents of Chibok town explained that natives of their outlying villages have suffered mass expulsion by Boko Haram terrorists and ISWAP. A Chibok farmer told TruthNigeria he was evicted from his Takulashi farm on December 15, 2023.

ISWAP members came to the communities of Takulashi and Mbulakodiga, asking “who were Christians?” according to Adamu Taro, 44.  After getting their answer, they ordered locals to leave or face instant death. “Four hundred people then left and went to live with relatives. Immediately, their lands were given to Muslims,” Taro said in an exclusive chat to TruthNigeria.

“Many Kibaku Christians who refused to leave were killed or kidnapped on their way to their farms,” Taro went on to say. “If a Christian goes to a farm, a Boko Haram will appear with guns and threaten the Christians to either leave or be killed,” Taro said.

Another resident of Chibok, Magareth David Yamma (a pseudonym. Yamma said publishing her true name could be fatal), one of the mothers of the abducted Chibok girls, said to TruthNigeria, “Boko Haram terrorists are surrounding us and our communities; they are gradually pushing Christians from the surrounding villages while resettling the villages with Muslims; as a result, there is hunger.”

“After losing my daughter to Boko Haram, I am about to lose my ancestral home and farm as well,” Yamma said.

In addition to the displacement and land confiscation, Christians, who make up over 90 percent of Chibok’s population, face other challenges, including limited access to education and healthcare, lack of religious freedom, fear of abduction and psychological trauma.

“We are pleading with TruthNigeria to help us by telling the world our plight,” Yamma added.

Army Won’t Move to Protect Local Christians

Military checkpoints don’t act to deter the terrorists, according to Lawan Zanna, the Secretary of the Association of Parents of Kidnapped Chibok Girls. “If you alert the military of an attack or impending attack, the military will not respond on time, therefore allowing the terrorists to have their way,” Zanna said.

Borno State Government Denies Charges of Persecution

The Commissioner of Information and Internal Security, Prof. Usman Tar, refuted the allegations from Chibok residents claiming complicity of state officials with ethnic cleansers. “There is nothing like that,
 Tar told TruthNigeria.  “I can tell you that there is nothing like that under the current administration of Governor Babagana Umar Zulum. Under Zulum, we have Christians who are not from Borno State serving as advisers to the state government. We make sure that the government accommodates everyone and makes sure they are protected,” Tar said.

“Why can’t we go to court?”

When asked if residents of Chibok have instituted a legal action so that it could reclaim lands that Boko Haram terrorists have seized from the Christians, Nkeki retorted, “Can you report the terrorists to the courts or legal institutions?” Nkeki asked.

“Even the state government is pampering the terrorists so that they can surrender and come out of the bush,” he added, saying “Furthermore, it is the duty of the county boss to report the incident of the displacement of Christians from their ancestral lands, but he has remained quiet about it, so others are also scared to speak.”

Reverend Kallamu Dikwa of The Center for Justice on Religious and Ethnicity in Nigeria (CJREN) told TruthNigeria that the allegations by Chibok residents are true as Boko Haram and ISWAP main agendas are to wipe out Christians from Borno and Nigeria.

“I will confirm to you that the displacement of Chibok Christians is true.

The same thing is happening in Gwoza County, where over 44,000 Christians were displaced from their communities, and the state government refused to resettle them back.

“There is a gradual and systemic degradation of Christians in Borno State, Kallamu said. Kallamu complained publicly last December that relief payments to victims of Boko Haram victims were denied to Christian applicants.

“The state government denies that Boko Haram is driving Christians away and does not even want the world to know that we have a huge Christian population in Borno, much less that Christians are being marginalized,” Kallamu added.

Onus Lies With The Federal Government, Not Borno State

According to Kola Alapinni, an International Human Rights Lawyer and a US Secretary of State Awardee on International Religious Freedom, the onus of expelling Boko Haram terrorists from Chibok lands and returning the Christians expelled lies with the Federal Government.

Alapinni told TruthNigeria that appealing to Borno State Government is a fool’s errand.

“The state government is powerless against the terrorists, “Alapinni said, adding, “The Governor of the State may be called the Chief Security Officer of the State on paper, but in reality, he has neither troops nor the power to command troops.”

“That power squarely lies with the Federal Government. The buck lies on the table of the Commander-in-Chief, and it devolves down the power chain both through the armed forces and the police,” according to Alapinni.

Mike Odeh James and Luka Binniyat are veteran conflict reporters for TruthNigeria.

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