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Slaughter of Nigerian Christians Continues as Authorities Stay Silent or Complicit
International Committee on Nigeria Report: Cell Phone Could Tie Authorities to Direct Involvement in Fulani Militant Attacks
WASHINGTON — Fulani militants are killing the predominantly Christian Rigwe people of Nigeria at a rate of 100 victims per year as local authorities remain silent, if not complicit, after five years of violence — and human rights advocates say it’s time for international leaders to take action.
In late March, nearly 30 Rigwe peoples in four villages were killed by Fulani militants during a two-week-long coordinated attack, after receiving no protection from local authorities despite being informed by citizens.
The apathy or incompetence of the national and local Nigerian governments to stop the slaughter has driven the murder count past 500 Rigwe victims in five years, according to a recent report the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON) submitted to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief for discussion at September’s U.N. General Assembly which will be hosted virtually this year.
Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), which advocates on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide, says the authorities essentially abandoned the Rigwe people to Fulani militants years ago.
“What is happening to the Rigwe people is a microcosm of the top-down, bottom-up genocide taking place all over Nigeria,” said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians. “The government of Nigeria has become a cabal of Fulanis wherein the top levels of the administration, from the Presidency to the courts and the security agencies, have all been filled with members of the ethnic-religious group responsible for heinous crimes against humanity in an effort to advance their violent political agenda to wipe out Nigerian Christians, usurp their lands and reestablish an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria by all means necessary. Human rights organizations and experts routinely decry the absolute failure on the part of President Muhammudu Buhari’s administration to halt the violence. Many claim the government is complicit with the terrorists and provides material support for their slaughter of innocent citizens.”
The ICON report indicates military action to protect the Rigwe people has been ineffective at best, as soldiers have either withdrawn before an attack or arrived after the devastation and bloodshed.
Now, there’s evidence that members of the Nigerian military and law enforcement could be complicit in the slaughter. After a recent attack, Rigwe citizens retrieved a cell phone left behind by a Fulani militant and storing 30 saved phone numbers of various personnel in Nigeria’s army and police. Additionally, a Nigerian judge has claimed to know of Nigerian politicians sponsoring the Fulani militants’ attacks, the ICON report states.
ICON concludes, “Local, State and Federal government response has been shameful and the military continues to be negligent in their handling of the situation. This slaughter must be stopped. There are remaining concerns regarding the complicity of certain elements of the armed forces in the Fulani militant violence. The impact of these ongoing, strategically coordinated attacks is devastating and the anxiety of the Rigwe is overwhelming as they grasp if these attacks aim to dislodge them from their land or total annihilation.”
The negligence and hostility of Nigerian officials is part of a larger campaign against Christians that could qualify as genocide. The slaughter of Nigerian Christians, primarily at the hands of militant, Islamist Fulani herdsmen, surpassed 1,000 in 2019 and more than 6,000 since 2015, according to the June 15 report “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide? An Inquiry by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief.” A separate report out of Nigeria says 2,732 people have been killed by Fulanis, Boko Haram and other militia between April and June this year.
“How many souls must perish, before the world acts?” Laugesen said. “With its commitment to religious freedom as a hallmark of our foreign policy, the U.S. must step up to lead the world in response to this genocide. The immediate presidential appointment of a U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria would be a good start.”
The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.
With so much of the world’s Christian population being imprisoned and/or harassed for their beliefs, such as Christians in Nigeria, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.