NIGERIA: Kidnapped pastor and wife plead for help

Rev Paul Musa and wife Ruth (Hostages)On Sunday 5 May, Rev Paul Musa (59) and his wife Ruth (50) appeared in a hostage video uploaded by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Both pastors of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) denomination in Borno state in northeast Nigeria, they were kidnapped in March 2023 and had not been heard of since.

In the eight-minute video, the couple is filmed in Muslim clothing with a Boko Haram flag in the background. Both speak to the camera, appealing for help to secure their release.

Rev Paul speaks first in both English and Hausa saying: “Good morning Brethren, I , Reverend Paul Musa, Lead Pastor of COCIN LCC Gamboru Ngala, Borno, Nigeria, am sending this message to you that it was on that day from 14th of March 2023 when we were kidnapped. I want to send a message to the Lord to know that we are in in need of help. I and my wife need help. We need help from the government of Nigeria, from the Christian citizens of Nigeria which is CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria), the Christian body of leaders.

“There are people who came [were kidnapped] after us and they have been set free to their communities. Then we were left and you forgot about us. Why? We need help that we too should go home. The government of Nigeria – where is the assistance? Where is the concern that you have about the people’s lives? You have forgotten about us and we also need your help. We have seen people who came from organisations easy get free and also Muslim brothers that came here. They have been set free and gone back to their communities. We are still here. Are we not good citizens of Nigeria? We need help from you today!”

Rev Paul also said that he and his wife are not physically healthy and that both had served in church leadership for almost 29 years.

In the video, Ruth speaks in Hausa, saying: “My name is Ruth Paul from LCC Gamboru Ngala, RCC Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. I’m sending this message to the world and the Nigerian government, to our groups of pastors.

“The terrorist kidnapped us from the 14 March 2023 to today 30 April 2024. I’m pleading with the Nigerian government to help us, we have been pleading and asking for help from them till today and we have seen nothing. We are pleading because those who came after us, their brethren came and they were set free and returned home. Muslims came for their brothers, they helped them and they have gone home. Staff of Red Cross came after us and their people came and helped them, but we are still here.

“Please help us in the time these people have set for us before it elapses. I am 50 years old . We have been working in the church for 29 years. We have been begging with no answer, help us, help us.”

The video closes with a short segment which was filmed separately in which Rev Paul says: “I could lose my life, help me, and pay my ransom. Perhaps they will release me, please help me. Please let it be quick. This is the last opportunity I have been given to talk to you. After this, you might not hear my voice again. Thank you!”

Background

It is important to note that in almost all hostage videos, the kidnappers tell their hostages exactly what they are to say and often make threats of violence to ensure that they do so.

It is not known if there have been any attempts by COCIN or the Nigerian government to negotiate with the kidnappers during the fourteen months that Rev Paul and Ruth have been in captivity and until the video was released, no news of them has emerged since they were kidnapped in March 2023. In the immediate aftermath of their kidnapping, the Christian Association of Nigeria called on Christians all over Nigeria to pray for freedom for Rev Paul and Ruth.  COCIN and the President of Nigeria Bola Tinubu have a policy of not paying ransom to terrorists.

(Stefanos Foundation, Leadership)

Image: Screenshot from Boko Haram video