Another Jihadist Attack Against Nigerian Christians: Where’s the Outcry?

We in the West have just learned about the latest genocidal act against Christians in Nigeria. Armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed thirteen Christians in Plateau state, Nigeria last Wednesday, the same day four students were kidnapped by Boko Haram from a Catholic seminary in Kaduna state.

About twenty herdsmen attacked the predominantly Christian village of Kulben, in Plateau state’s Mangu County, at about 8 p.m., area residents told Morning Star News. The thirteen dead were all members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), as were three people wounded in the assault, they said.

“They were shooting with guns in all directions, forcing the villagers to scamper into surrounding bushes,” area resident Michael Mutding, 40, told Morning Star News in a text message. “Corpses of those killed have been evacuated by soldiers and police to the mortuary of Mangu Cottage Hospital; and all the victims are members of COCIN.”

Catholic Seminarians Kidnapped

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Outside Kaduna city, capital of Kaduna state, four students were kidnapped from The Good Shepherd Catholic Major Seminary on Wednesday night (January 8), an official said.

“Armed bandits” abducted the seminarians after the assailants shot sporadically at students, professors and staff members between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., according to the Rev. Joel Usman, registrar of the institution. “After a head count of students with security agents, four seminarians have been declared missing.”

Contacted by phone, Usman told Morning Star News, “Yes, we were attacked last night as I said in the statement I issued earlier this morning. Kindly pray for the release of these students.”

ISWAP Christmas Executions

A break-away faction from Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), on Dec. 26 released a video in Nigeria of the terrorists executing 11 people whom they said were Christians.

Saying the executions were in retaliation for the killing of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an October U.S. raid in northwestern Syria and his likely successor in a separate attack, a voice on the video says those executed are Christians as a message “to the Christians in the world.”

The identities of those killed, however, were still not known. Timed near Christmas for maximum media exposure, the video showed executions thought to be ordered by IS around the world since the killing of Baghdadi and his likely successor, IS spokesman Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir.

The 56-second video, released to Muslim Nigerian journalist Ahmad Salkida, shows the captives in orange tunics and kneeling as the terrorists stand behind them in black balaclavas. One captive is shot in the head, and the terrorists then slash the throats of the 10 others.

“This message is to the Christians in the world,” a voice-over says in Arabic and Hausa. “Those who you see in front of us are Christians, and we will shed their blood as revenge for the two dignified sheikhs, the caliph of the Muslims [Baghdadi], and the spokesman for the Islamic State, Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, may Allah accept them.”

Indifference from the West and the Mainstream Media

Christian persecution in Nigeria, which can be traced back to the Sokoto caliphate (1804-1903), has surged since 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari was elected president. The late-Catholic bishop Joseph Bagobiri of the Diocese of Kafanchan (northwest Nigeria which has had  sharia law since 1999) had stated“The persecution of Christians in Nigeria is not given anything like the same level of international attention as persecuted Christians in the Middle East.” A most recent example of this—unreported by the Western mainstream media — was the killing of Father Paul Offu (southern Nigeria) at the hands of the Islamic Fulani herdsmen in August of last year.

Unfortunately, news of the ongoing tragedy in Nigeria hardly gets any recognition from the mainstream media. Last summer I had the opportunity to visit the persecuted Christians, specifically Boko Haram, in the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri (northeast Nigeria). As I traveled through the mostly 51,000 square mile terrain—in the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri—I spent some time with a woman whose husband, Yohanna, had been kidnapped by Boko Haram just two days prior. She was very much comforted by the parishioners of her parish of St. Augustine, who were praying and hoping against hope that he would be released. Regrettably, just hours after spending some time with her, Yohanna’s dead body was found. Like Offu’s murder, this is just one of many tragic stories that go unreported.

Of course, within the past few years, some of the victims to Boko Haram and the Fulani nomads have been Muslims. However, when the destruction of lives and property is done and it comes to rehabilitation/reconstruction and rebuilding of lives, government funds are used to rehabilitate Muslim communities and compensate Muslims, meanwhile Christians are left out and discriminated upon. Some of the visible and practical forms of persecution and challenges that Christians have learnt how to live with for decades include:

  • denial of land to build places of worship (churches). The last time that a Certificate of Occupancy was issued for a church building within the Diocese of Maiduguri was in 1979;
  • denial of Christian religious curricula in the primary and secondary levels; instead they are forced to study Islam.
  • denial of jobs and promotion in government parastatals;
  • political exclusion and denial of political office;
  • forceful abduction and marriage of Christian girls;
  • reserved courses for Muslims in higher institutions of learning.

 

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Temporary shelter for Christians – Many of them widows and orphans as a result of Boko Haram (Photo: Author’s personal collection)

As the Father John Bakeni, a priest from Maiduguri, told me, the persecution of Christians is prevalent. “About four years ago, they came to us. There was no place for them to stay. Nobody wanted to take them in, not even the housing communities. The diocese has been solely responsible for their welfare and their upkeep. Like other displacement centers, they have received little or no attention from the government. Not even NGOs of Christian roots and origin. People don’t want us to say this in public, but that is the fact.”

Support from Nigerian lawmakers and Islamic-Western Allies

Then-Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan(2010-2015)—who is a Christian—had said in in 2012 that Boko Haram has supporters and sympathizers “in the executive arm of the [Nigerian] government; some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of the government, while some are even in the legislative arm. Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies.”

As I reported elsewhere, the Islamic militants are also backed by countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Yet because the CIA has also been linked to them, such clandestine operations, which are no longer a “secret,” continue to be carried out.