By Anayo Ezugwu
THE International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, has raised alarm over deliberate and systematically organised violence targeted at Christians in Nigeria. The group said between 1,650 and 1,700 Christians have been killed by jihadists, bandits, and herdsmen across the country from January 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020.
In a special report titled: ‘‘Unmasking 12 types of violence and their twenty jihadist perpetrator groups in Nigeria,’ Intersociety said many Christians were scared of going to their places of worship, learning, and farming. The report stated that herdsmen attacks accounted for as much as 1,200 Christian deaths from about 1,077 recorded as of August 5, 2020, while Boko Haram and other jihadist groups accounted for at least 450 Christian deaths.
“In our June 2020 updates regarding the killing of Christians by Boko Haram and its allied jihadist groups, 394 Christian deaths were calculated and credited to the named jihadist groups; from over 600 defenseless Nigerians, including moderate Muslims killed. Between July and 30th Sept 2020, not less than 100 civilians have been killed, which included at least 50 defenseless Christians. Dozens, who are mostly Christians, have also been abducted and permanently disappeared or presumed killed in their captivity.
“The breakdown of the 1,650-1,700 defenseless Christians hacked to death by herdsmen since January 2020 indicates that Southern Kaduna topped the list with 430 Christian deaths; followed by Benue 170 with deaths; Plateau 163; Niger 65; Kogi 55; Nasarawa 42; Adamawa 40; Igbo areas, including Delta and Benue Igbo 35; Taraba 32; Southwest 25-30; non-Igbo-Delta 20; Edo 10, and Bayelsa four. There are also at least 50 abducted and permanently disappeared Christians and a ‘dark figure’ of 50; bringing the total to as many as 1,200 Christian deaths recorded in the hands of herdsmen between 1st Jan and 30th Sept 2020.
“Southern Kaduna and mainly Christian parts of Niger State have lost 84 mostly Christian citizens to herdsmen abduction between August and September 2020. While 53 Christians were abducted in Southern Kaduna, 31 were abducted in mainly Christian parts of Niger State. The abductees, who are yet to be seen, months after being abducted, are presumed or most likely to have been killed in captivity for being Christians,” it said.
The report released on Wednesday, September 30, stated that there is also an ongoing structural and cultural violence against Christians by the federal government. It accused the government of enacting pro-Islamic laws and the promotion of policies that are jihadist and antithetical to the country’s secularity status. The report noted that the gross lopsided composition of the country’s public security establishments and other key agencies is a clear example.
“For instance, out of 38 key federal political, legislative, judicial, justice, military, policing and paramilitary establishments and their heads in Nigeria recently identified by Intersociety, 31 are manned by Muslims, while Christians were given only seven. Most of the serving Justices of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, as well as Judges of the Federal High Court, appointed recently by the government of Nigeria, are heavily dominated by Muslims; likewise, recent appointments made into the Federal Character Commission and the National Population Commission.
“In Kaduna State, all the 15 top political, legislative, judicial, military and policing positions recently identified are held by Muslims; in a state with 60-40 Muslim-Christian population. In the area of violence against Nigerians by ‘eco-cultural-jihadist’ Muslim groups, locally called “banditry”; it involves targeted abduction of residing or traveling citizens, especially Christians and forcing them to pay monetary ransoms in captivity or get permanently disappeared or killed without traces.
“The jihadist content of the above involves targeted abduction of residing or traveling Christian citizens, especially women and children. Such young Christian women are forcefully married off, converted to Islam and made sex slaves by their Islamic captors, who also made them pregnant so as to bear future radical Muslim children. Christian men among them are forced to be converted to Islam or risked being killed or permanently disappeared in custody. Captured Christian children are radicalized with radical Islamic doctrines and forced into child soldiering, including suicide bombing.”
The group alleged in the report that all the perpetrators of insurgency violence or those behind most of the violent attacks ravaging the country are members of the Nigerian Muslim Faith. It noted that no insurgency group wreaking havoc in present Nigeria belongs to Christians. “This is with the exception of ‘street criminal activities’ like armed robbery, kidnapping, murder, cyber violence, etc where criminal citizens and entities of Christian and Muslim faiths and others are involved.
“The ‘jihado-insurgency’ killings in the country are carefully perpetrated and perfectly executed by their perpetrators. The original targets of the attacks by all Jihadist groups in Nigeria are Christians. They also have one central objective-to Islamize, exterminate and wipe out Christians and Christianity and have the same replaced with Islamic socio-legal system and Sultanate or Caliphate modeled Islamic Government and governance.
“Therefore, herdsmen holistically target and kill Christians and destroy their churches, schools and homes and take over their lands, but spare Muslims. This is the case in old Middle Belt areas of Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa and Christian parts of Niger State as well as Christian areas of Taraba and Adamawa States. It was also our recent finding that the motives behind the killings in Birnin Gwari and other Muslim areas of Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto are not the same with killings in the named old Middle Belt and referenced Northeast States as such killings in the named Muslim areas are ‘eco-cultural-jihadist’ in nature.
“Which is why the victims, though Muslims, but are mostly, if not completely of indigenous Hausa Ethnic background-a sort of continuation of the 1800s Jihadist against pagan and moderate Muslim Hausa populations. Generally speaking, though the central target of Muslim insurgency killings and attacks in Nigeria are Christians and their properties and faith, but other jihadist groups such as Boko Haram, Ansaru and ISWAP also asymmetrically, disproportionally and collaterally target and kill moderate Muslims.”
The report also alleged that the number of jihadist terror groups wreaking havoc in Nigeria has risen to at least 20, from three in 2015. It noted that by mid-2015, three jihadist groups were operating in Nigeria and they were Boko Haram, herdsmen, and Ansaru or Movement for Emancipation of Muslims in Black Africa. “But today, their number has risen to not less than 20, involving: two sub terror groups within Boko Haram, excluding Ansaru and ISWAP or Islamic State in West African Province.
“There are also herdsmen, further divided into three sub terror groups of indigenized herdsmen, foreign or imported herdsmen, and jihadist Shuwa Arabs. The Jihadist ‘bandits’ terror group, originally named “Zamfara Bandits” has today split into at least 13 sub jihadist terror groups operating and terrorizing residing and traveling Christians and indigenous Hausa Muslims in Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara and Niger States, etc.”
– Oct. 1, 2020 @ 15:25 GMT |