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Jihadists: CSO raises alarm over mass murder of Nigeria Christians



Jihadists killing Christians in alarming numbers in Nigeria

A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), has revealed a deliberate mass murder and persecution against Christians in Nigeria by Islamic Jihadists.

This was contained in a 24-page document dated April 28, 2024, entitled “Intersociety Special Warning Statement” and signed by Intersociety Board Chair and Criminologist-Researcher, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi.

According to Intersociety, out of every recorded ten Christians killed in Africa in 2023, nine is from Nigeria.

Citing a Fox News report dated April 14, 2024, the research group disclosed as follows:

  • Fulani Jihadists are dangerously turning the South-East region of mainland Igbo into violence-prone area.
  • Fulani Jihadists and others are responsible for killing of 24 defenseless Christians daily or one per hour in Nigeria.
  • Christianity faces deadly crisis and persecution in 28 of Africa’s 54 countries.
  • Freedom of Christian worship, others may die in Igbo land and Nigeria in 50 years.
  • Governors and governments presiding over destruction of environments and wildlife in Igbo land.

Fundamental human rights to Freedom of Religion or Belief threatened by Jihadists

Intersociety revealed that “available pieces of irrefutable evidence have continued to indicate grave danger signals ahead for the general security and safety of the Mainland and Outpost Igbo, their defenseless populations, territories and properties which totally and cumulatively threaten their fundamental human rights to Freedom of Religion or Belief, and profession of Christianity in particular.”

It stated further that “terrifying statistics… across Nigeria and African countries by international state and non-state actor investigative and research Rights and Humanitarian bodies… [point] out dangers arising from the genocidal activities of the Fulani, Shuwa, Baggara, Kanuri and Maghreb radical Islamists or jihadists in Nigeria and Africa”.

According to the CSO, the Region has been flooded and saturated with locally and regionally assembled Fulani jihadists and allies armed with prohibited firearms and covertly accorded “above the law status” and state protection by the present and immediate past governments of Nigeria and the country’s Security Forces (NSFs).

In its statement of March 11, 2024, entitled “South-East Lands Too Tiny For Grab For (Fulani) Ranching/ Settlements: Enugu, Abia And Anambra Govts, Others Must Back Off“, Intersociety strongly accused the Governors and Governments of the affected Mainland Igbo States.

It accused them of secretly forcing several communities in their States into ceding their forest reserves and farmlands for veiled or disguised Fulani herders’ settlements.

It described the trend as “a very dangerous timebomb” that is uprooting the indigenous Christian communities, their natives and properties in places like Benue, Plateau and Southern Kaduna.

MACBAN’s indicting revelation

Intersociety cited a “most striking… recent rejoinder statement issued by the national leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) issued on March 16, 2024 and signed by its National Secretary, Bello Aliyu Gotomo.

In the statement, MACBAN unequivocally disclosed that the South-East Governors have commendably hearkened to their demand by providing lands for Fulani herders’ settlements in the South-East-so as to find a lasting solution to incessant “herders-farmers clashes”.

MACBAN, therein, rubbished South East governors’ denials and indicted them of complicity with Jihadists.

The statement described as “unfortunate the opposition to (Fulani) ranching in the South-East by some groups within the zone, especially the International Group (Society) for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety”.

It stated: “It took exception to Intersociety’s statement and interpreted the submission of the group as laden with ethnic hate and dysfunctional in this age when patriotic Nigerians are bent on charting a common front for a united and progressive nation”.

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The failure of South East governors and governments

The cowardly acts of South East governors and governments, Intersociety noted, “have paved way for saturation of major communal farmlands, bushes, and forest reserves by locally and regionally assembled Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and allied others.

“… armed with illicit automatic weapons; remotely assembled and protected by the then Central Government of Nigeria and its… “Islamic inspired security forces”.”

The group cited the Ukpabi Nimbo Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen massacre of April 2016 whereby at least 48 rural Christians were killed.

It also cited the early 2016 Southern ward movement of the Jihadists armed with AK-47s-remotely protected by national coercive agencies.

Intersociety’s findings were later in 2021 corroborated by a retired DIG of Police who issued a disturbing statement.

The retired DIG confirmed that “as at 2020, intelligence at his disposal as then serving Police DIG indicated that not less than 336 locations in the South-East have been seized and occupied by Fulani Herdsmen armed with AK-47 Assault Rifles”.

Eyewitness account of Jihadists attack

Intersociety further recalled an eyewitness account from a publication by News Band on April 23, 2024, relating how a family of wife, husband and maid were abducted by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen.

They were taken into a bush where they were held captive and raped for three days until a ransom of N15 million was paid to secure their release.

The attack reportedly left bruises in their private parts including the husband’s anus, who was inflicted with several rape wounds.

The victim narrated their ordeal as follows: “I am a native of Ukwulu, married to Nawgwu. On the 17th of April, 2024, we came back to celebrate the marriage of my daughter and we were driving to Ukwulu through Abba Junction, after ELDI, we saw cows crossing the road and stopped.

“Immediately, the cattle men blocked the road and brought out guns and ordered us into the bush where they tied our hands behind us and started beating us.

“In the bush, they raped me and my maid before my husband every time without mercy. The third man tore my husband trousers and continued to rape him in the anus.

“They took our phones and ordered us to start calling our friends and family and demanded for N100 million for each of us or they will kill us.

“After 3 days of continuous rape, my maid became sick and started vomiting blood. My husband is dying as his anus is teared to pieces. I cannot stand up properly due to continue rape.

“They later released us on Saturday (April 20, 2024) after my son-in-law mobilized N15m, from where we were rushed to hospital at Asaba.

‘Your Excellency please save your people by having that bush (in Ukwulu, Dunukofia LGA) surrounded by security people.

“Please chase out these evil cow men from Anambra. Please stop them from wasting lives. Even as we are leaving, they brought two other boys and took them into captivity.

“I am now a living dead due to (Jihadist) Fulani (Herdsmen) in my town. Even the villagers cannot react again due to fear.”

The future of average life expectancy in the South East

It has also become a public knowledge that the Fulani Herdsmen Jihadists and allied others have saturated forests, bushes and farmlands in over 46 communities in 10 of the 18 LGAs in Enugu.

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In about 50 years’ time, Intersociety deduced, if extreme care is not taken, average life expectancy in the South East will likely drop to about 40 years-following threats caused by reckless, unchecked and indiscriminate destruction of natural environments and genocidal activities of the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and allied others who are politically protected in forests and bushes of the Region.

Intersociety warned that Freedom of Religion or Belief including right to freely and willingly profess and practice Christianity or Judaism or Traditionalism; other than radical Islamism; will die or disappear.

“That is to say that Christian, Jewish and Traditional religious children born and being raised today in non-Muslim held areas of the country including Mainland and Outpost Igbo may not freely and peacefully practice their religions in the next 50 years,” the CSO warned.

International Freedom of Religion or Worship faces extinction threat

Intersociety further maintained that the International Freedom of Religion or Worship, otherwise called “First Freedom”, is facing a serious threat of extinction by violent and intolerant state actors and non-state actors in Nigeria or any part thereof.

It historically remembered that the “First Freedom” is one of the oldest fundamental human rights in the world, proclaimed as far back as 313AD through “the Edit of Milan” enacted by Emperor Constantine of the then Roman Empire.

It noted that the enactment of the Edit of Milan not only ended long years of discrimination and persecution against Christians under Roman Empire, but also granted them Freedom of Worship or Religion.

Today, it asserted, the International Freedom of Religion or Belief has not only become a leading and important Human Right under UN System but has also been adopted and codified by several UN Member-States including the United States of America which enacted “the US Freedom of Religion or Belief Act of 1998”.

“The “First Freedom” has also become globally so important that it was decades ago assigned an ‘International Rapporteur’ under the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Human Rights/United Nations Human Rights Council,” Intersociety stressed.

It regretted, though, that in Nigeria, the Fundamental Human Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief (First Freedom) has received and still receives brutal attacks, gross disrespect and degradation from the present Central Government of Nigeria installed and religiously inspired by the immediate past Government of President Muhammad Buhari.

This is despite the clear provisions, enforceability and ‘justiciability’ of Sections 10 (prohibition of adoption of any religion as a State Religion) and 38 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and allied others in the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended and similar provisions in the country’s International Treaty Laws.

It stated that the height of state actor and non-state actor brutal attacks on Freedom of Religion or Worship in Nigeria or any part thereof, originated from July 2015, two months after Buhari was installed as President.

5 major religious violence ravaging Nigeria

Intersociety identified five major religious violence that ravaged Nigeria by Jihadists as follows:

A. Organized violence (especially destruction of religious symbols and sanctuaries and burning down of places of worship and dwelling houses) by radical or extremist (“Born Again”) Christian sects against Traditional Religionists and their sacred Sanctuaries.

B. State actor systematic and organized violence against Muslim Minorities (. i.e. Islamic Movement in Nigeria or Shiites). Such Sunni Muslim-led Nigeria Government attacks include killings and destruction of sacred places of worship, learning and dwelling houses belonging to Shiites using the Nigerian Security Forces particularly soldiers of the Nigerian military.

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C. Grisly, egregious, and widespread violence by state actors (Islamic-inspired Nigerian political and military leaders) against defenseless Christians and their sacred places of worship, learning, dwelling houses and livelihoods including farmlands and crops, using soldiers of the Nigerian Military as well as the Government-protected Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, Jihadist Fulani Bandits and allied others.

D. State actor (security forces) organized violence against defenseless members of the Jewish Religion and others categorized under “the African Instituted Churches (White Garments)” as well as Traditional Religionists and their religious symbols and sanctuaries. Such security forces’ organized violence has severally been reported across Nigeria particularly in the South-East and parts of the South-South.

E. Mob killings and destruction of dwelling houses and sacred places of worship and religious symbols by radical Islamic youth groups remotely instigated by radical Islamic leaders in Mosque and political establishments targeted at defenseless Christian students, preachers, etc.

Statistics of killings and abductions

According to Intersociety’s Special Report of February 14, 2024, more than 8,200 defenseless Christians were hacked to death in 13 months of January 2023 to January 2024 in Nigeria, and over 8,000 abducted by Jihadists; out of which about 800 did not return to their families alive.

Nigeria also recorded over 150,000 religious related deaths since the July 2009 Boko Haram uprising; involving killing of at least 100,000 defenseless Christians, 46,000 moderate Muslims (killed by fellow but radical Fulani Muslims and allied others).

Not less than 4,000 deaths were drawn from non-Christian and non-Muslim Faith members.

Direct killings also accounted for not less than 100,000 deaths and indirect killings including deaths arising from state actor and non-state custodial torture and shootings or hackings, took the remaining 50,000 deaths.

Between July 2009 and Jan 2024, not less than 19, 000 churches, including over 2000 sacred temples of the “African Instituted Churches” and Jewish religion, and over 1000 sanctuaries of the Traditional religionists, were wantonly destroyed or burned down.

About 2,500 Christian schools and other sacred places of learning were also affected.

In the first past four months of 2024 or Jan to April, the number of Christians killed and those abducted has risen to estimated 800 and 1000 respectively.

Areas worst hit by Jihadists in Nigeria

In all these, Benue, Plateau and Southern Kaduna have steadily remained the worst hit since June 2015; to the extent that in the past four years or 2020 to 2023; the three Christian-held States had lost not less than 24,000 defenseless Christians on yearly average of 2,000 Christian deaths.

Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, dangerously accommodated in the three States over the years have also seized, Islamized and Islamically renamed more than 300-400 uprooted indigenous Christian communities since June 2015 and uprooted and displaced over 1000 Christian communities.

Today, Benue State accounts for at least 2m Christian IDPs-with hundreds of thousands of others found in Plateau and Southern Kaduna, according to Intersociety report.

The full 24-page document entitled “Intersociety Special Warning Statement” can be read or downloaded here.

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