President Muhammadu Buhari government has been indicted of persecution and killing of Christians in Nigeria.
A report, authored by the Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen Bishop of Truro in the United Kingdom, which was recently concluded and submitted to the UK Parliament, studied seven countries – Iraq, Indonesia, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Syria and Nigeria – as the world capitals for the persecution of Christians.
The report focused on the killings from Fulani herdsmen along the middle belt regions of the country.
It cited the unwarranted killings of unarmed Christians by Fulani herdsmen who are often armed with sophisticated weapons.
It observed that the security structure in Nigeria appears reluctant to go after the attackers. The military are more tuned to go after the victims – the report claims.
President Buhari is yet to respond to the report
Here is the full report from UK parliament .
The “intensification of conflict” in Nigeria in recent years comes at a time when Christians in the country have suffered some of the worst atrocities inflicted on Churchgoers anywhere in the world. Since 2009, Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group in “allegiance” with Daesh (ISIS) extremists in Iraq and Syria, has 424 “inflicted mass terror on civilians, killing 20,000 Nigerians, kidnapping thousands and displacing nearly two million”.425 The kidnapping of “mostly Christian girls”426 from a school in Chibok north-east Nigeria in April 2014 and the forced “conversions” to Islam of many of the students, demonstrated the anti-Christian 427 agenda of the militants. Boko Haram’s continued detention of teenager Leah Sharibu , kidnapped in April 2018, showed that the militants were continuing to 428 target Christians. The Catholic Church in north-east Nigeria reported in spring 2017 that Boko Haram violence had resulted in damage to 200 churches and chapels, 35 presbyteries (priests’ houses) and parish centres. At least 1.8 million people in north-east Nigeria’s Borno state had been displaced by March 2017, according to Church sources. To this extent, Boko Haram delivered on its March 2012 promise of a “war” on Christians in Nigeria, in which a spokesman for the militants reportedly declared: “We will create so much effort to end the Christian presence in our push to have a proper Islamic state that the Christians won’t be able to stay.”
Hence, by 2017 it was being concluded that “Boko Haram has carried out a genocide against Christians in northern Nigeria.” By that time, a new and growing threat to mainly Christian farming communities had emerged from nomadic Fulani herdsmen. The Fulani carried out attacks against Christian communities especially in Nigeria’s ‘Middle Belt’, the border territory between the Hausa-speaking Muslim areas in northern Nigeria and land further south mainly populated by Christians. Reports also showed mostly retaliatory attacks against Fulani by predominantly” Christian farmers, such as the November 2016 killing of about 50 mainly Fulani pastoralists by ethnic Bachama local residents in Numan district, Adamawa state. The causes of this inter-communal conflict are complex and “attributed to many factors.”
That said whilst the conflict cannot simply be seen in terms of religion, it is equally simplistic not to see the religious dimension as a significantly exacerbating factor, and the Fulani attacks have repeatedly demonstrated a clear intent to target Christians, and potent symbols of Christian identity. This was evidenced, for example, by the April 2018 murder of two priests and 17 faithful during early morning Mass at St Ignatius Catholic Church, Mblaom, Benue State, in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
The threat from Boko Haram and militant Fulani Islamist herdsmen – with evidence of some counter-attacks from Christians – suggests that the situation for Christians in parts of the country has “deteriorated” , with Nigeria rising through the ranks of countries with the worst record of persecution against Christians.
Faced with repeated accusations of inaction and even “connivance” in relation to Fulani violence, it remains to be seen if Muhammadu Buhari, re-elected in the February 2019 Presidential elections , will make good his promise, stated in Easter 2019, to “do all it takes to… confront these security challenges [and] not allow merchants of death and evil to overwhelm the nation.”
The Government of Nigeria immediately responded to the attack by publicly acknowledging its significance. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who was in the US in the days following the attack, tweeted : “Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers, is not only vile, evil and satanic: it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting.
US politicians and government called for the Government of Nigeria to act quickly to stem the crisis of repeated Fulani attacks. US Congressman Chris Smith, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, said: “[The] killing of priests and parishioners… of St Ignatius’ Catholic Church in the Makurdi Diocese signals that the religious violence is escalating. It’s imperative that Nigerian authorities punish those who are culpable, lest violence worsen…”..
In the US, response to the St Ignatius’ Church killings from President Donald Trump and other political leaders both recognised the religious dimension to the violence and renewed calls for the Nigerian government to do more to bring the perpetrators to justice. A similar approach is evident in the response made by the UK government.