NEW YORK, USA –
The activities of the Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist group and the Fulani Cattle herdsmen have been described as a systematic attempt to eliminate Christianity in the Northern part of the country.
This assertion was made by the Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese, Most Rev. Joseph Bagobiri in his presentation titled: The Impact of Persistent Violence on the Church in Northern Nigeria; made at an International Conference held at the headquarters of the United Nations Organization (UNO), New York, United States of America (USA).
The Global Congress was co-sponsored by the Holy See and Citizen Go, a Non Governmental Agency (NGO), based in Madrid Spain. The Conference was on defending Religious freedom and other human rights; stopping mass atrocities against Christians and other believers.
Bishop Bagobiri who told the delegates to the congress that his presentation was premised on a Case Study on the State of Christianity in Northern Nigeria Under the Threat of Obliteration; sponsored by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Northern Region chapter; noted that the activities of the two groups, if not checked, could led to a repeat of the fate of the Church in the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey and Asia Minor.
While calling for more pro-active actions on the part of the Nigerian Government to check the menace of the two groups, Bishop Bagobiri also urged the international community to intervene in the Nigerian situation noting that what is happening is a negation of the secularity posture of the country according to her Constitution.
The Nigerian Bishop noting that his submission was premised on a well articulated scientific study carried out by a team of experts headed by Arne Mulders in collaboration with a wide spectrum of Nigerians, sponsored by the Open Door Research Department with the support of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); gave a brief history of the Nigerian nation and articulated the causes of violence in the northern part of the country.
Bishop Bagobiri also gave the statistics of persecution and violence against Christians worldwide pointing out that: “These persecutions take different shapes and forms; from the less violent such as: stealth/enticements with worldly goods, discrimination and marginalization, forced migration etc, to more violent ones such as mass murder, slashing throats, suicide bombing and being thrown as prey to wild carnivorous animals.”
The local ordinary of Kafanchan gave a vivid description of the Nigerian situation with facts and figures to buttress his points on the religious violence of the Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen atrocities against Christians, expressing concern over the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government and governments of the states in the Northern Region.
His words: “The Federal Government of Nigeria and those of the States in Northern Nigeria have never taken a strong, constitutional and political stand that guarantees the safety, security, rights and freedom of Christians everywhere in Northern Nigeria.”
He continued: “To buttress this fact, the research shows that between 2006 and 2014 an estimated 11,500 Christians have been killed, over 1.3 million Christians have been displaced and 13,000 churches have been destroyed or abandoned.
The most affected Christian communities are in northern Adamawa, Borno, Kano and Yobe states. Christians in these states have had to relocate mainly to the predominant Christian states in the Middle Belt areas: Plateau, Nassarawa, Benue, Taraba and Southern part of Kaduna state.
He added: “Furthermore, Christian communities in the predominant Christian states in the Middle Belt areas are the most affected by the Muslim Fulani herdsmen forceful invasions and attacks. This is a blatant foreign invasion of the ancestral lands of the Christian and minority communities. And the most affected Christian communities are in Benue, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Plateau and Taraba states.”
In these middle belt states, the Fulani herdsmen have incessantly terrorized many communities, wiping out some from existence, and in places like Agatu in Benue State and Gwantu and Manchok in Kaduna State, these attacks assumed genocidal character, as between 150 – 300 vulnerable persons were killed overnight. Attacks like these are persistent and serial in nature.”
Calling on the international community to intervene in the Nigerian situation, Bishop Bagobiri articulated six areas where this assistance is necessary. These include: effective advocacy measures that would pressurize the Nigerian Government to do more to guarantee and ensure total freedom of worship for Christians and minorities in Northern Nigeria; effective strategies to salvage the disturbing menace affecting Christians and other minority group in Northern Nigeria; addressing the humanitarian crisis of Christians living in the North-East and some Middle Belt areas of Nigeria; international community to monitor and advocate that the security of every Nigerian is guaranteed by the three tiers of government and Nigerian communities and absolute religion freedom and need for government neutrality in this respect.
Culled from www.cnsng.com