A video released by a faction of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria shows a pastor pleading for government officials to secure his release and that of two women who were abducted earlier this month.
The Islamic State West Africa Province, a jihadist terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria, posted the video on YouTube on Oct. 19, giving proof of life of the Rev. Polycarp Zongo of the Church of Christ in Nations, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported.
In the video, Zongo can be seen telling how he and the two unnamed women were abducted. Seeking the help of Gov. Simon Lalong, state Sen. I.D. Gyang, the Christian Association of Nigeria and his denomination COCIN, he says they were traveling from Jos city in Plateau State to the capital of Gombe State for a church conference when their vehicle was stopped and they were abducted.
“On Monday, 19 October 2020, I was traveling to Gombe for a church conference when we encountered the caliphate’s armed men who captured me along the way; and right now I’m with them,” he says in the video.
Talking about the two women, he adds, “They too, captured two Christian women who are also here with me. I’m appealing that you all do all that is possible to secure our release from captivity.”
ISWAP is known for kidnapping Christians and then killing them when ransom demands aren't met.
The terrorist group abducted and killed the Rev. Lawan Andami, district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria in Michika County, Adamawa state, earlier this year, according to ICC, which also said the group executed 11 Christians on Christmas Eve last year.
“It is likely that if the Nigerian government does not secure his release, he will be murdered on video as propaganda for the brutal group,” ICC said. “The two women, however, are more likely to be kept or sold as slaves to supporters of the group. Please pray for the safe return of these three people and for justice to be brought on those who conducted this kidnapping.”
The U.S. State Department has put Nigeria under its “special watch list” of countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom. Nigeria is also ranked as the 12th worst country in the world for Christian persecution by Open Doors USA.
In a special report, titled “Nigeria: A Killing Field of Defenseless Christians,” released earlier this year, the Anambra-based nongovernmental organization International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law estimated that about 11,500 Christians had been killed in Nigeria since 2015 by Fulani herdsmen, the Boko Haram and highway bandits.
ISCLRL also estimated that 1,202 Christians were killed in the country in the first six months of 2020 by jihadists, radicalized herdsmen and others.