The mass slaughter of Christians in Nigeria is calculated genocide abetted by the government in the nation that is Africa’s most Christian, cries a growing number of leaders calling on the United States to intervene.
Evangelical John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, is among the latest to describe as genocide the killing of some 6,000 Christians this year alone in Nigeria by jihadist Fulani herdsmen aided by resurging Boko Haram terrorists.
“This is genocide,” Stonestreet has said. “And the government … there is abetting it. It is dismissing it as a land dispute.”
Stonestreet joins a growing list of Christian, political and social activists proclaiming the deaths genocide, pogrom or ethno-religious cleansing, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Jubilee Campaign for Religious Freedom, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), International Christian Concern (ICC) and the Lift Up Now grassroots foundation led by Southern Baptist Nigeria native Adeniyi Ojutiku.
The killings are not a matter of a traditional land dispute that has separated Christians and nomadic Fulani Muslim herders for ages, according to Ojutiku, CAN, Stonestreet and others. Instead, the government and herdsmen have used the historical land dispute as an excuse, denying that a jihad is in progress.
“There is no doubt that Christians are the main target of the incessant human carnage being perpetrated by (Nigerian President Muhammadu) Buhari’s Fulani kinsmen,” Ojutiku told Baptist Press Aug. 1, noting Buhari’s Fulani heritage. “What is happening is that the Islamist Jihadists have advanced a strong but false narrative to obscure the truth.”
Christian activists charge Buhari with complicity in killings concentrated in the nation’s Middle Belt where the majority Muslim north and the majority Christian south and east overlap with diversity.
According to figures from CSW and CAN, the Fulani jihadists have destroyed more than 500 churches in the Middle Belt’s Benue State alone since 2011, and internally displaced about 800,000 people in the state, with 180,000 of them living in camps and others living with relatives or as squatters.
In the most recent mass attack, Fulani killed by some estimates more than 200 Christians as they left the July funeral of a pastor’s relative in the Middle Belt’s Plateau State. Thousands were displaced over two days of attacks in 15 communities, according to press reports.
Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram gunmen “are prowling villages, shooting and killing innocent Christians,” CAN said as early as January.
CAN “has reviewed the catalogue of horrendous and inhuman attacks on several states and mostly Benue State from 2013 — 2018,” CAN said Jan. 16. “The impression has now been firmly established that the Islamists of northern Nigeria have ‘legalized jihad’ in Nigeria.”
In the highest death tolls, International Christian Concern (ICC) accused Fulani militants and Boko Haram of killing 50,000 to 70,000 Christians in the last 20 years. In its 2018 special report on Nigeria, the ICC termed Nigeria the biggest killing ground for Christians today. Other tallies blame the groups for about 30,000 deaths.
Some contend the U.S. government should use diplomatic force to pressure Buhari to end the systematic slaughter. Ojutiku also called for Buhari’s forced resignation.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press, Diana Chandler