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Widow Of Pastor Ojih Slain By Boko Haram’s Founder, Reveals Who Relocated Her To South, 10 Yrs On

The Oasis Reporters

August 1, 2019

Veronica Ojih with her children.
A memento of their wedding. Veronica remembers wistfully.

Ten years after the horrific incident in Boko Haram captivity when Pastor George Ojih was given a choice to convert to Islam or be instantly executed by Boko Haram founder, Muhammad Yusuf, his widow, Veronica marks the tenth year anniversary quietly with her children as she revealed for the first time, the South South pastor who secretly moved her and her children away from insurgency wracked Maiduguri in Nigeria’s north east.

When American based Rights lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe got in touch with her, she told him about her charismatic and studious husband who came back to Maiduguri for the weekend from bible school to visit his family. She remembered wistfully the sermon he preached at his church that weekend encouraging all to be firm till the end. As if he had a premonition of what was to happen.

“Later that week, Boko Haram went on a rampage. They operated freely in the city of Maiduguri where they had a mosque, a camp ground and facilities. They rampaged through the city, killing Christians,” she went on.

Pastor George and his family were amongst those who fled to a military barracks in the city for safety.

Several days later when the violence subsided a bit, he went in search of an old lady – a widow from his church who wasn’t hiding in the barracks with them.

During that rescue mission, he and a deacon were captured by the terrorists and taken to their grounds.

There Mohammed Yusuf, leader of Boko Haram, addressed a group of captured Christians from his throne, “Convert to Islam or die!”, the sect leader bellowed. Pastor George refused. Instead he urged the other Christian captives to stay strong.

Incensed, Yusuf ordered for a sword to be brought and as Pastor George continued to encourage the others, pinned him down and slit his throat in their full view. Not done, he fully decapitated him. Then, holding up his severed head, Yusuf declared to the trembling group, “this is what we do to those who refuse to accept Islam!”

A few days later, Nigerian security forces captured Yusuf and he died in custody because his cup was full. “He had defied the God of heaven for too long and shed too much innocent blood,” commented Ogebe.

Some of the rescued captives who compromised after his beheading came and told her about her husband’s final, defiant moments.

She is probably one of Nigeria’s longest widow’s from Boko Haram terrorism going back to their July 2009 uprising, 10 years ago this week.

Did she receive any compensation from Borno state government as some people were being offered ?

Veronica Orji said the state government claimed “they are only paying compensation for people killed during their tenure”. Hers was before, so they didn’t pay.

A prominent pastor in Warri and former Christian Association of Nigeria president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and another Pastor in Lagos helped relocate her and her two kids from Borno to the south. She was pregnant then and had her third child there.

A man named Banjo got in touch with her and promised to pay for her kids’ education, a very costly venture in one of the world’s most expensive metropolitan megacities.

Every once in a while Banjo would call and ask about the kids’ results. One year, she read the grades to him. Banjo said, “let me call you back.”

Sometime later, he phoned. “I have discussed this with my bible study group. Your son’s grades are not great. We need to move him to a better school. We will pay for the new school.”

It is one thing to be a one-off or cash-and-go philanthropist. It is a whole other thing to be a caring, consistent humanitarian. He paid the fees but he cared about the kid’s performance. In that wise, Banjo was doing what George himself would have done. George must be smiling from heaven.

‘“I marvel at this man,” says Barrister Emma Ogebe, whom Veronica says she has never met. He has never shown up to claim credit or glory for his charity. He is leaving it all up to His Rewarder. He is from the southwest, she is from north central and the pastor who relocated her is from the south south. They have no bond, no connection than the love of God.

“This is why I believe in Nigeria but I believe in Nigerians, more. We have been our own government when there was no governance. We can be our own ministers when there are none. We have proven time and again, that we can survive without them and in spite of them.”

Last weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the public beheading of pastor George Ojih by Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf. Yusuf himself was killed days later.

Pastor George is survived by a wife and three kids. In those 10 years no assistance or compensation came to the family from the government state or federal. His widow Veronica wanted to move to Kaduna because of the high cost of living but discovered after buying a land there that it has been taken over by Fulani Herdsmen.

It is ironic that the anniversary of the oldest hero of the faith martyred by Boko Haram, George, also coincided with the news of the martyrdom of the newest heroine of the faith, Leah. If truly she’s been executed, the God of George will arise on her behalf again like he did before.

It is sad that after 10 years such tragedies continue to occur in Nigeria. In the UK, a Nigerian grandfather Oluwole Ilesanmi was arrested by the police for preaching on the street. The police have since apologized for wrongful arrest and paid him compensation of £2500.

However in Nigeria, Evangelist Eunice did exactly the same thing – preached on the street in Nigeria’s capital – was slaughtered in cold blood and three years later her admitted killers have not been convicted. Pa Ilesanmi is guaranteed better protection under the rule of law in the UK than in Nigeria. Ironically, the third anniversary of Eunice’s burial coincided with apology of the British police to Pa Ilesanmi.

The ultimate travesty is not just that this continues to happen but that the killers get away with it or are even rewarded. The Nigerian government has paid billions to the terrorists but their victims continue to languish.

Additional reporting : Emma Ogebe

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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