A Nigerian civil society group estimates that 1,202 Christians have been killed in Nigeria in the first six months of 2020 by jihadists, radicalized herdsmen and others as 22 more Christians were reportedly killed in the Kaduna state last weekend. Rights groups continue to voice concern about “genocidal” crimes in Nigeria. Intersociety, an organization headed by Christian criminologist Emeka Umeagbalasi, relies on what it deems to be credible local and foreign media reports, government accounts, reports from international rights groups and eyewitness accounts to compile statistical data. Due to the lack of adequate government record-keeping, death tolls reported by media outlets should be construed as estimates.
According to the report, the majority of Intersociety’s estimated 1,202 Christian death toll through the first six months of 2020 comes mostly from the 812 killings committed by members of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herding community who have been radicalized to carry out attacks against predominantly Christian farming communities in the farming-rich Middle Belt States. Additionally, 390 Christian deaths were attributed to killings committed by radical Islamic groups in the northeast, like Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province, in addition to other perpetrators such as armed bandits. “Thousands of defenceless Christians who survived being hacked to death have also been injured and left in mutilated conditions with several of them crippled for life,” the Intersociety report states.
“Hundreds of Christian worship and learning centres have been destroyed or burnt, as well as thousands of dwelling houses, farmlands and other properties belonging to Christians.” As Fulani radicals have increasingly attacked Christian farming communities in recent years, the killings have been labelled by the Nigerian government and others as part of the decades-long conflicts between herders and farmers in Africa. Advocates for Nigerian Christian communities contend that the “herder-farmer conflict” label is misleading because it doesn’t take into account other factors at play, such as religious elements. “All areas attacked by Jihadist Herdsmen are Christian communities,” the Intersociety report reads.
“There are no pieces of evidence anywhere showing killing of Muslims and taking over of their land and houses or destruction or burning of Mosques by the Jihadist Herdsmen.” The organization also warned that there has been a “rapid increase” in the number of young girls and women abducted by radicals nationwide. “Nigeria’s genocidal Jihadists including Herdsmen and Boko Haram/ISWAP have rapidly increased their rate of abduction of females, both legally married and unmarried,” the report explains. “Such women rarely return when abducted.” According to the report, abducted women are sometimes used as sex slaves by their captors and are forcefully married and converted to Islam.
According to CSW, over 1,000 people and 11 pregnant women were displaced by recent violence and are now taking shelter in an educational facility owned by the Evangelical Church Winning All denomination. The Southern Kaduna People’s Union has released a statement condemning the attacks and pointed out the fact that police officers assigned to the area to enforce a 24-hour curfew were nowhere to be found when the attacks began. “With the curfew still in rigid enforcement, Anguwan Audu, a Surubu village, still under Gora ward was invaded where the village was looted and entirely burnt and one person killed,” SOKPU Public Relation Officer Luka Binniyat said. “This brought to a total death toll of 22 persons in three days of unbroken attacks under a 24-hour strictly imposed curfew that has been running for 31 days today.”
Binniyat argues that the recent attacks “confirm a veiled but documented threat” issued by the leaders of five Fulani supremacist groups at a press conference in Kaduna. “We are dismayed by the actions of the security forces, who reportedly attacked peaceful protestors and arrested farmers for violating the curfew, yet failed to prevent armed non-state actors from terrorising civilians for three consecutive days,” CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement. “The ongoing violence and loss of life in southern Kaduna is emblematic of an enduring failure or unwillingness on the part of both levels of government to fulfill the responsibility to protecting all citizens in an effective and unbiased manner.”
In the Tse Chembe district of the Logo local government area of Benue state, another seven people were killed by suspected Fulani radicals. Benue Gov. Samuel Ortom called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Fulani radicals as terrorists. Nigeria ranks as the 12th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List. Last year, the United States-based nongovernmental organization Jubilee Campaign advised the International Criminal Court in Hague that the standard for genocide against Christians in Nigeria has been reached and urged an investigation. There is growing pressure in Washington, D.C., for the U.S. government to appoint a special envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region to investigate the mass atrocities being committed there.
Source: Christian Post
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