Image via Church Militant
ABUJA, NIGERIA (CHURCH MILITANT) - While international human rights groups are warning of "genocidal" persecution of Nigeria's Christians, Nigeria's Abp. Ignatius Kaigama wants government leaders to stop the violence.
Persecution of Nigeria's Christians by well-armed Muslim Fulani militants is approaching genocidal levels, according to a report filed July 15 titled "Nigeria: The Genocide is Loading" by the international human rights organization Jubilee Campaign (JC). Their report submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, indicated Nigeria's leaders are doing little to stop the genocide.
A senior Nigerian prelate, Abp. Kaigama of Abuja, Nigeria, is backing claims that biased authorities were blaming Christians instead of Islamic militants for the deadly violence.
"Biased and prejudiced official security reports," said the archbishop, "heighten tension when they blame the victims instead of the aggressors because of the Nigerian 'factor' of tribal or religious affiliation. This sadly keeps the fire of the crisis raging."
Coadjutor archbishop of Abuja, Kaigma has been watching the Christian persecution escalate with Islamic authorities doing little to stop it. In the midst of recent attacks, the archbishop noted that government security was seldom if ever present and contacted the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) for help. He was dumbfounded, however, when the DCP proceeded to blame Christians for prompting the militant attacks.
"When I called the DCP and asked how the situation was," said Kaigma, "his immediate remark was, 'Your people like fighting.'"
In his statement, however, Kaigma explained, "Generally, it is when the militant herdsmen vanish after their deadly attacks that the poor villagers try to react to protect or defend themselves."
His testimony is backed by the July report filed by JC, which also held a press conference in Washington, D.C. July 15 to discuss their findings. JC's director, Ann Buwalda, said at the press conference that Fulani militants have killed thousands of Christians in Nigeria and have displaced more than a million others.
"Why are there nearly 1 million IDPs [displaced Nigerians] from the northeast of Nigeria?" asked Buwalda.
Citing data gathered by World Watch Monitor, Buwalda added:
In 2018, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project reported how Fulani militants constituted the deadliest threat to civilians in Nigeria ... surpassing Boko Haram Terrorist Group in casualties. ... Their target is Christian-majority villages where they kill civilians, burn their homes, leaving the community fear-stricken and forcing many to abandon their homes.
JC's report calls out the government bias in downplaying the genocidal attacks on Christians as mere "clashes" or "farmer-herder" conflicts and labeling the well-armed Fulani militants as "herdsman."
"[The] situation can no longer be called clashes when a group of over 200 raid a Christian village and kill civilians in the early morning hours while they are sleeping," asserts the report.
Buwalda said the same criteria used to indict Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram with "crimes against humanity" also exist regarding the actions of Fulani militants including:
Killing members of a group; Causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group, and Inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part.
"We believe that genocide is loading. We believe that genocidal behavior and conduct has been taking place and that the perpetrators are not being prosecuted by the Nigerian government," she stated.
Pastor Yakubu Bakfwash, one of the panelists at JC's press conference, called out Nigeria's leaders for not tracking the suppliers of expensive arms that include helicopters used by Fulani militants to attack Christians. Bakfwash, who was kidnapped twice by the militants, offered the following critique:
If helicopters can be sighted in the community, helicopters are not owned by ordinary citizens. It's not a motorbike or a bicycle. It is owned by rich individuals or companies. Somebody rich is responsible. These kinds of individuals can be found. If there is a helicopter flying in, there must be a camera somewhere where the government can identify. A helicopter does not show itself and disappear. No, it uses airspace. Someone must be controlling that airspace and he or she knows where the ... chopper is coming from.
A former intelligence operative told The Stream last year that President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also a member of the Fulani tribe, has done little to stop Muslim terrorists from killing Christians.
The source said that since Buhari took office in 2015, more than 20,000 Nigerians, mostly Christians, have been killed by either "direct State violence" or violence from terrorist groups including Boko Haram and Fulani militants.