Stop the killings of Christians in Nigeria?
By Chukwudi Johnpaul Okolo, Catholic Institute for Development, Justice and Peace, Enugu
It is increasingly worrisome that Christian communities are being attacked and burnt down daily and many Christians murdered, yet these attacks are neither reported in the news here in Nigeria nor addressed by the international community. Since February 2019, the number of Christians murdered in cold blood has increased overwhelmingly. The victims of the massacre include children, expectant mothers, women and youth, and government bodies and agencies appear to be doing nothing. The Fulani Muslim president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has not raised his voice to condemn these acts, especially when fingers point to Fulani herdsmen/militias – his Fulani brothers – as the perpetrators. President Buhari sympathises with the herdsmen as he is a patron of the Fulani Miyetti Allah (Cattle Breeders Association). His administration and the Fulani dominated security organs promote Fulani interests in Nigeria.
Another strong indicator of the complacence of the government and the presidency is the fact that there were no recorded Fulani attacks within the period of the election campaign and the election itself in March 2019. There was relative calm for a period of over four months. The killings only resumed soon after the presidential and Federal House of Assembly elections. What does this say about the president and his kinsmen who are the security chiefs of the country and who call all the security shots?
In the first quarter of 2019, southern Kaduna and Zamfara State topped the chart for the Fulani massacre of Christians. In the second quarter of 2018, it was Christians in Plateau State who suffered most. In January 2018, the killing was concentrated in Benue State where a number of massacres of Christians occurred, including an attack that resulted in the deaths of about 100 persons and a mass burial of 73 Christians. In a separate attack, two Catholic priests, Rev. Frs. Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolah, were murdered along with 16 Christian faithful while at prayer during Holy Mass. Between March and May 2016, killings of Christians were recorded in Nasarawa State as well as in Nimbo and Uzo-Uwani in Enugu State. The spate of killings is alarming, yet the government keeps quiet; How did we get to this point?
Chukwudi Johnpaul Okolo is a project officer with the Catholic Institute for Development, Justice and Peace (CIDJAP) in Enugu and is currently a research student with the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt