By Rick Plasterer, CP Op-Ed Contributor | Wednesday, September 08, 2021Rick Plasterer is a staff writer for IRD concerned particularly with domestic religious liberty.
The decades long persecution of Christians in Nigeria continues unabated, and if anything appears to be worsening and just as one-sided as ever. It has been recounted in numerous articlesposted by IRD in recent years. Perhaps most disturbing, the government of Nigeria, led by President Muhammed Buhari, has centralized control of the nations police, and seems to have a policy of allowing Christians to be murdered by militants of the Muslim Fulani ethnic group with impunity.
Killings, which areongoing, commonly occur in Nigerias Middle Belt, between the Muslim north and the Christian south of the country. Significantly, an Anglican bishop in one of the affected areas, the Rt. Rev. Jacob Kwashi of Zonkwa Diocese,remarkedlast month at a mass funeral that:
We have never seen an evil government in this country like the one of today The government is fully in support of the bloodshed in Nigeria. We are being killed just because we are not Muslim:
This theme was echoed inpresentationby Robert Reilly, Director of the Westminster Institute on August 28. Reilly interviewed Robert Destro, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in the Trump Administration, and currently Professor of Law at the Catholic University of America, and Mark Jacob, a Nigerian barrister, and former Attorney General of Kaduna State in Nigeria, concerning the Nigerian governments effective support of the slaughter. Although the terrorist group Boko Haram is the best known perpetrator of violence in Nigeria, Reillys interview focused primarily on violence committed by Fulani militants.
Reilly noted that the Trump Administration declared Nigeria a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) in late 2020, which indicates that it has engaged in or tolerated ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom, and that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has warned of a potential Christian genocide in Nigeria.
Jacob provided a broad background to what is going on in Nigeria, talking about factual events that I have primary knowledge of. Im not talking from second guess or hearsay. He said that he has been part of several mass burials, and has encouraged victims.
Jacob observed that the atrocities to which he refers were selected killings of Christians, particularly in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria. While it is being claimed that climate change is the ultimate cause of the conflict, in fact, the killings that have happened from 2014 on are a genocide perpetrated by a sophisticated armed militia. He said the Fulani militants are well organized, they are well trained, they are well armed. These armed groups move from village to village, from town to town, from community to community. It has also been claimed that the attacks were not religious. But Jacob said that all the attacks are religious. Attackers come into a community shouting the Islamic slogan Allahu Akbar! Churches are destroyed. Mosques are spared, indeed, left untouched. Muslim inhabitants are not attacked, only Christians. He said that since 2015, the Nigerian government has taken sides with the attackers. To claim that the attacks are not religious is simply a falsehood, he said.
Reilly asked who is arming the Fulani. Jacob said that the Nigerian government claims that the arms are coming from Libya. However, Jacob said that the Islamic world is organized on this matter. Several Islamic countries are believed to be funding and supporting these attacks because the entire program is described as a jihad. He said that it is described as an attempt to Islamize the territories. The attackers use the Islamic language and slogans.
Jacob said the current jihad began around 2010 in Plateau State, and got worse by 2015. From there, it has spread to other states in Nigeria. Attacks are on predominately Christian communities, which are attacked at night time. Villages are surrounded, people driven from their homes, and then hunted down. Houses are looted, and separate contingents of the Fulani set houses on fire. These attacks are ongoing. Thousands of internally displaced persons are inrefugee camps, with the government doing little or nothing to help them. Education has been permanently disrupted.
Another abuse has been to kidnap children. In one case, aboutone hundred childrenfrom a Baptist childrens home were held captive. He said that commonly following a kidnapping, the parents are left alone, to negotiate with the kidnappers. At least in some cases, the locations of kidnapped children are known. Jacob said that against the Fulani, Christian Nigerians are totally helpless, you survive only by Gods will.
Jacob observed that the Nigerian armed forces are skewed to the Muslims. Since 2015, when Buhari became President, the government has ensured that the heads of all agencies are Muslims. All appeals to have a mixed military leadership have been ignored. To all appearances, the Nigerian government and armed forces are complicit in the mass murder that is happening. Even if a state government would like to attack terrorists, they would have to act through the federal government to apply coercive force, since both army and police are centralized under the federal government. Military action against terrorists is approved if Muslims are attacked, but not if Christians are attacked, he said.
Reilly asked about a situation a number of years ago when federal troops moved against the terrorist organization Boko Haram. In this situation, a number of school girls were attacked. But Jacob said that the Nigerian president at the time was Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian. However, the President of Nigeria since 2015 has been Mohammed Buhari, who himself was appointed by Boko Haram to lead in any negotiations with the Nigerian government before 2015.
Jacob sees a real problem with known members of Boko Haram being integrated into the Nigerian army on the claim that they have repented. This, he said, is clear injustice, not to punish terrorists. He believes it accounts of the lackadaisical approach of the Nigerian military to terrorism. Jacob said that the terrorists have an ideological conviction to kill people in the name of religion. And then you are just brought back and given the uniform with the Nigerian army.
Reilly asked if the Nigerian military itself had ever been implicated in these attacks on Christians. Jacob essentially said that the militarys inaction is evidence of complicity. He cited a recent case of an attack which was just fifteen minutes from the barracks of the Nigerian army. Over 70 people were killed, and many homes destroyed, but no action from the army. Another attack on Christmas Eve 2016 continued from mid-night to dawn, and lasted until everyone was either killed or had fled, and their houses destroyed, while the army and police were only 15 kilometers away. This sort of thing has been seen over and over.
Jacob said that when an incident occurs, victims or their advocates are told that the military does not have approval to act against terrorists, and may be told that the attack is simply a mere internal strife over land or a herder/farmer crisis. This, he said, is a total falsehood. There were tribal clashes in the 1970s, but these were resolved without bloodshed. Jacob added that the Fulani attackers today will cut down crops after destroying a village. It is not a situation where a herdsman happens to stray onto a farm, but an attack by well-armed troops on farms, killing the inhabitants, and destroying the farm.
Reilly asked if these attacks have been successful in depopulating parts of Nigeria. Jacob responded absolutely. The indigenous population is gone in many areas, and the land occupied by the Fulani. Court orders to restore land cannot be enforced, because of government complicity in the attacks.
Jacob said that governors of states in southern Nigeria came together to prevent Fulani expansion into their areas. This action was condemned, both by the Fulani and the Nigerian government, clearly showing the Nigerian governments complicity in the murder of Nigerians and confiscation of land. The governments official policy is to declare privately owned land open for settlement, resulting in the current assault on Christians in Nigeria, which is ongoing. The Nigerian government has also designated thousands of kilometers of land in Nigeria for grazing (Fulani) expansion, ignoring property rights.
Jacob said that the Nigerian government was very upset and angry about the designation of Nigeria as a country of particular concern. But he said that no one who has entered Nigeria in the last two years will fail to see, will fail to touch the turmoil that is happening there. No single day passes without a report of twenty, to thirty, to one hundred people being killed the government is refusing to address criminality the people bearing arms are getting bolder every day.
Reilly remarked that one would expect widespread revulsion in Nigeria against what is happening. He asked why the Christians in the south of Nigeria cant do something to help people in north and central Nigeria. Jacob said that they can do very little. The problem is that the southern governors, who have opposed President Buharis policy of opening farmlands to Fulani grazing, are in the same political party as the president, and political correctness has prevented them from effectively opposing his policies.
The violence in Nigerias middle belt has now spread to the southeast and the southwest of Nigeria, he said. Although the southern governors have formally come together to state their opposition to his policies, which Jacob said is a bold step, nevertheless, their opposition has so far been ineffective. Security is highly centralized in Nigeria, and most politicians like to play safe, rather than opposing the President.
Reilly asked what is the potential within Nigeria for a peaceful, democratic change. Jacob said that the potential is very slim, because there is no arm of government that has not been infiltrated with, by the current political style we have, where the President and his men have their hands in everything. While there is an electoral commission, no one believes that there will be a fair election. Rigged elections have been approved in the past, and ballot boxes were taken away by soldiers.
Reilly asked about the integrity of the court system. Jacob said that the courts are intimidated. The current government raided the homes of Supreme Court justices, on the pretense of investigating corruption. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was removed, and replaced by someone else. Reilly asked how Jacob operates as a barrister in Nigeria in view of this corruption. Jacob said that he is not a proud lawyer because of this corruption. Judges are unwilling to render true justice according to the law, because of intimidation. Thus, the Buhari government could obtain an order designating the Independent Peoples Movement of Biafra a terrorist organization, while those groups actually committing mass murders go free.
Jacob said that the rights of Christians and other religions have been trampled upon with impunity. So much so, that the lives of Christians do not matter. Any attack on Muslims, however, results in immediate government action. He said that the Nigerian government specializes in the manipulation of information. The government even attempted a hate speech bill that would effectively prohibit criticism of the government.
Reilly asked Jacob if the interview he had given puts him personally in danger. Jacob said absolutely, but I dont care. He said that there is a common saying now in Nigeria that if you speak, you die. If you dont speak, you die.
Jacob presented a much more dire picture of Nigeria than Americans commonly hold. Comments of Robert Destro, who dealt with Nigeria as an Assistant Secretary of State, along with concluding observations, will be given in a subsequent article.
Originally published at Juicy Ecumenism.
Rick Plasterer is a staff writer for IRD concerned particularly with domestic religious liberty. He attended Eastern Mennonite College (now University) receiving a B.A. degree in history and sociology, and an M.S. in library science from Drexel University.
Follow this link:
- Feehery: The honest contrarian | TheHill - The Hill - November 23rd, 2021
- First thoughts on the new President's Management Agenda - FCW.com - November 23rd, 2021
- Austin Preshko: Enforcing mandate with informants will encourage false reports against those who engage in 'wrong think' - Must Read Alaska - November 23rd, 2021
- Is the legacy of Monty Python being destroyed? - Far Out Magazine - November 23rd, 2021
- More Deferential but Also More Political: How Americans' Views of the Military Have Changed Over 20 Years - War on the Rocks - November 23rd, 2021
- Its American History: Its time to face the truth about what critical race theory actually means to the right - East Bay Express - November 23rd, 2021
- Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to gratitude and tolerance so the woke have their knives out for it - New York Post - November 23rd, 2021
- The Roustabouts Go for the Gut (Laugh) in 'For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls' - Times of San Diego - November 23rd, 2021
- 10 of the best new release Netflix series available coming in November - The Scotsman - November 23rd, 2021
- Book Spoilers, Sex Jokes and Other Letters to the Editor - The New York Times - November 19th, 2021
- Opinion | The Woke Student Is Just a Scapegoat - The New York Times - November 19th, 2021
- We need to get real about Islamist terrorism - Spiked - November 19th, 2021
- The thought police have arrived with 'trigger warning' alarm that goes off at every offensive remark - Telegraph.co.uk - November 19th, 2021
- 'The Sex Lives of College Girls' on HBO Max is a hilarious, sexy treat from Mindy Kaling - Mashable - November 19th, 2021
- An Archconservative Magazine Discovers Afrofuturism at the Met and Is Not Pleased - Hyperallergic - November 19th, 2021
- The Every by Dave Eggers review big tech is watching you - The Guardian - November 19th, 2021
- 10 of the best Netflix new release series available this November - The Scotsman - November 19th, 2021
- Chinese dissident warns Americans: Youre already in the authoritarian state...you just dont know it - Fox News - November 15th, 2021
- 'Legacy American' is the latest catchphrase in the racist lexicon | TheHill - The Hill - November 15th, 2021
- Too sensitive or too ignorant? The rise of political correctness in the US - Mesa Press - November 15th, 2021
- On Kashmir, Literature, and the Shroud of Political Correctness - The Quint - November 15th, 2021
- Despite laundry list of injuries, the Bucs should beat Washington 35-13 on Sunday - Creative Loafing Tampa - November 15th, 2021
- How will Eastern election results affect Utah? |Opinion - Deseret News - November 15th, 2021
- Andrew Sullivan on American political discourse and rescuing conservatism in 2021 - 60 Minutes - CBS News - November 15th, 2021
- AOC's 'Woke' Whine Is Why the Dems Can't Stop Losing - The Daily Beast - November 15th, 2021
- A Look At The Diversity Of Political Ideology In The United States : The NPR Politics Podcast - NPR - November 15th, 2021
- Letters to the Editor Many readers will miss Mallard Fillmore - The Dallas Morning News - November 15th, 2021
- GUEST VIEW: Dictatorial coaching should be in the past - Lockport Union-Sun & Journal - November 15th, 2021
- Making the effort to do what is right - The Jackson Sun - November 15th, 2021
- Cape Cod theater reviews: Romance, revelations and a different view of Thanksgiving - Cape Cod Times - November 15th, 2021
- Betsy DeVos to publish Hostages to the Cause, a book on misguided failures of US education system - Yahoo News - November 15th, 2021
- How on earth has Family Guy survived for 20 seasons in the supposed era of political correctness? - The Independent - November 3rd, 2021
- How on earth has Family Guy survived in the era of political correctness? - News Nation USA - November 3rd, 2021
- The Board of Ed Elephant in the Room and Other Passaic Elections Nuggets - InsiderNJ - November 3rd, 2021
- Deadlock at the pump | Opinion | wvnews.com - WV News - November 3rd, 2021
- Shared Loves and Strong Loyalties | R. R. Reno - First Things - November 3rd, 2021
- Larry Summers slams Democrats for failing to tax the wealthy - Salon - November 3rd, 2021
- How the Word 'Woke' Was Co-Opted And Weaponized - WDET - November 3rd, 2021
- The Head-Turning Gesture Donald And Melania Trump Made At The World Series - The List - November 3rd, 2021
- Lowell High, Alison Collins and the Sunset's rage against diversity - San Francisco Chronicle - November 3rd, 2021
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Respectful conversation easy to watch - Odessa American - October 24th, 2021
- Costumes, masks and things that go bump in the night - Cape Cod Times - October 24th, 2021
- Letter: McClaughry: Editor of The Tone Deaf Times - Brattleboro Reformer - October 24th, 2021
- Letters to the Editor, Oct. 22 - Marco News - October 24th, 2021
- Virginias Election Is Breaking the Rules - New York Magazine - October 19th, 2021
- Letters to the editor - Boston Herald - October 19th, 2021
- Ballot proposal would replace he with they in Grand Have n city charter - WOODTV.com - October 19th, 2021
- Dave Chappelle refuses to be cancelled | TheHill - The Hill - October 19th, 2021
- Keep Appreciation for Hispanic Heritage Alive With These Great Books - L.A. Weekly - October 19th, 2021
- History of the World Part 1 is Getting a Sequel - Book and Film Globe - October 19th, 2021
- AstonRep Theatre Presents GOD OF CARNAGE At The Edge Theater - Broadway World - October 19th, 2021
- Max Gillies talks satire, The Gillies Report and the future of political comedy - ABC News - October 19th, 2021
- 'The Office' Star John Krasinski Once Shared His Favorite Episode of All Time - And It's Pretty Controversial - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - October 19th, 2021
- Falling all the time Billy Connolly had to move out of New York as Parkinsons worsened - Express - October 19th, 2021
- Political correctness - POLITICO - October 15th, 2021
- Billy Connolly raged at politically correct mob who screwed it for everybody - Daily Express - October 15th, 2021
- PC Halloween: Here are the costumes parents agree no kid should wear while trick-or-treating - Study Finds - October 15th, 2021
- Science is the latest victim of cancel culture - Brunswick News - October 15th, 2021
- Sir Billy Connolly: I'd be cancelled by the woke brigade if I started out in comedy today - The Telegraph - October 15th, 2021
- Krull: Gruden is like other blowhards, lacking in common decency and courtesy - The Herald-Times - October 15th, 2021
- Peter Thiel bets on the far right: Tech tycoon spending millions to bankroll "Trump wing" of GOP - Salon - October 15th, 2021
- Lorraine fans delighted to see Billy Connolly looking so well as he plugs new book amid Parkinsons b... - The Sun - October 15th, 2021
- Letter to the Editor: Keep Seattle politics out of rural King County - Woodinville Northwest News - October 15th, 2021
- Back in the Day: This is my 500th Back in the Day column! - Fairfield Daily Republic - October 15th, 2021
- 'Forget the Alamo' Book Trashes Texas' Beloved Origin Myth - The Daily Beast - October 15th, 2021
- 'Cosplay Christianity': The sin is in the denial of the life God calls us to - Religion News Service - October 15th, 2021
- Diversification is the key to success - AV Magazine - October 15th, 2021
- Raila, Ruto must end political intolerance ahead of elections - The Standard - October 15th, 2021
- The Many Feints of The Sopranos - The American Prospect - October 15th, 2021
- Digimon Tamers Stage Play Accused Of Promoting Far Right ... - October 5th, 2021
- British Airways Accused of Political Correctness as it Abolishes Ladies and Gentleman From Onboard Announcements - Paddle Your Own Kanoo - October 5th, 2021
- America needs to get back to honesty, thinking about the group - EH Extra - October 5th, 2021
- Putin has hit us but will lose, says interior minister - The First News - October 5th, 2021
- Alejandro Zaera-Polo has been removed from his faculty position as Princeton continues its row with the former SoA dean - Archinect - October 5th, 2021
- Six Broadway Review: The Real Housewives of Henry VIII Put on a Show - Yahoo Entertainment - October 5th, 2021
- Jon Stewarts Back. Heres Why We Should Care. - POLITICO - October 5th, 2021
- The comedy in Olney's 'Thanksgiving Play' comes with a side of snark - DC Metro Theater Arts - October 5th, 2021
- Scottish theatre company apologises after backlash over 'cancel culture' and political correctness play - The Scotsman - September 29th, 2021
- 11 Examples Of Political Correctness Gone Mad - September 29th, 2021
- COMMENTARY: Woking the Boomer Cache Valley Daily - Cache Valley Daily - September 29th, 2021