(Image: Temitayo Aina via Unsplash)
“I thank God, I thank God,” Nigerian Pastor Bulus Yikura stated after being released on Wednesday by Boko Haram. It was the same day the group gave as an ultimatum for either his release or death.
Last week the terrorist group circulated a video of a terrified Yikura pleading for his life.
“I have been given only seven days to appeal for assistance that will help me out of this torture. If truly you want to rescue me from this untold suffering and threat to life, then you have to act fast,” Yikura stated in a video directed towards the Nigerian government and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). “I am also calling on the EYN president to help mobilize help that will rescue me, and also pray for me so that God will make things easy for me here.”
Yikura, a pastor with EYN church, and five other Christians were kidnapped last year during a raid about 20 km from Chibok, where Boko Haram members abducted hundreds of schoolgirls in 2014. The terrorist group murdered the five Christians on Christmas Eve as a”Christian Present,” sparing the pastor.
Last week’s video was the third one Yikura appeared in since his abduction. His first appearance was in December 2020, then again in January and February of this year.
EYN and Yikura’s family’s family had been negotiating his release since last week, however, it is unclear whether they paid a ransom. As Dede Laugesen, executive director of the United States-based advocacy group Save the Persecuted Christians, noted, kidnapping for ransom is alarmingly on the rise in Nigeria.
“We celebrate his release…but the plague of kidnapping for ransom that has been rampant in Nigeria since 2019 has been unaddressed and [we are] now very concerned that we have seen the increase in the kidnapping of schoolchildren,” Laugesen stated in an interview.
Three hundred schoolgirls were kidnapped in a raid at the end of February. Fortunately, they were released earlier in the week, but the terrorists reportedly burned much of a Zamfara state village and abducted more people.