‘Nigeria Now the Deadliest Place to Be a Christian’
A new wave of attacks by Fulani herdsmen against Christians is leading one international human rights advocate to call on the US Congress to appoint a special envoy to investigate.
“Nigeria is now the deadliest place in the world to be a Christian,” explained attorney Emmanuel Ogebe. “What we have is a genocide. They are trying to displace the Christians, they are trying to possess their land and they are trying to impose their religion on the so-called infidels and pagans who they consider Christians to be.”
Two weeks ago, 238 people were killed in a village massacre in north-central Nigeria. Six of Ogebe’s relatives were among the victims.
“From what we have been able to piece together, the husband and his pregnant wife, he tried to take her out of the house to safety and come back for the kids,” recalled Ogebe. “But they ran into the herdsmen along the way and they shot him and his pregnant wife and they went into their home and they killed their four-year-old son and their six-year-old daughter who were asleep in their beds.”
He said the Muslim attackers also killed two relatives who were visiting the family during summer break.
Ogebe said he was told that authorities would not allow the corpses of his relatives to be taken away for separate burial. Instead, they were buried in a mass grave with the other victims.
CBN Nigeria Director Felix Oisamoje said the violence against Christians has escalated in recent months.
“It’s happening more in the middle-belt of the country. The reason simply because the Fulani herdsmen take their cattle into people’s farmlands, they eat of their crops on the farm and when the people challenge them, then before you know they respond with AK-47’s,” he explained.
Oisamoje said most Fulani herdsmen cannot afford the cost of an AK-47.
“Given what an AK-47 goes for, a Fulani herdsman would need to sell all of his cattle to be able to buy an AK-47.”
Ogebe said several theories exist about where the herdsmen are getting AK-47’s and other small arms like mortars and grenades. He explained that many arms became readily available as they spread throughout Africa following the fall of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.
“But even more sinister is the fact that a lot of these cattle are owned by very rich Fulanis who are in government and who are in power. So, there is a strong belief that the Fulanis, the ruling elite are actually funding the herdsmen to conduct these attacks,” said Ogebe.
He said by pushing the Christians out, they can dominate Nigeria politically and physically in a land grab.
Ogebe said thousands of Nigerians have already died in attacks this year, including 500 in Benue State. In April, herdsmen opened fire on members of a Catholic church during their mass. A priest who was serving communion and 18 parishioners were killed.
In another incident, Fulani herdsmen attacked the home of Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi of the Anglican Church of Jos. The archbishop was unhurt, but one person was killed.
So, what can be done? Ogebe says members of the US Congress need to appoint a special envoy on the issue of Nigeria and also the US needs to withhold the sale of sophisticated aircraft to General Buhari’s regime as long as Christians are unprotected from attack.
Ogebe alleges the Nigerian government has used aircraft against Christian villagers who have tried to defend themselves against the Fulani herdsmen attacks.
He also says many desperate Nigerian Christians are in need of help.
“I know that The 700 Club CBN is in Nigeria so if people support CBN, we know that CBN will deliver to the people who are afflicted,” Ogebe explained.
Oisamoje said a CBN humanitarian team just came back from a place called Kagoro in north central Nigeria where Fulani herdsmen have attacked.
“We just came back from doing a whole week of free medical services to that area because a lot of people are suffering from no medical attention.”
Oisamoje told CBN News that pressure from the US and the international community can make a difference in helping to protect the lives of Christians. But he also asks that Christians pray for their brothers and sisters in Christ in Nigeria.
“I think one of the things we need the most is prayers… whatever is going on right now has some kind of spiritual underpinnings and I believe if we begin to deal with it from that point, it makes it easier,” Oisamoje explained. “After all, the Bible tells us that we do not war against flesh and blood, so we know there are spiritual issues, so we need to pray.”
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