Over 6, 000 Christians killed in Nigeria! That is the estimated number of Christians murdered by Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram since 2015.
The figure is contained in a report published late last year by Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), an organisation that “supports people suffering from conflict and persecution.”
The Fulani extremists continue to be a grave and vexing problem for helpless villagers in the Middle Belt of Nigeria. In 2019 alone, more than 1, 000 Christians were attacked and killed.
One villager testifies in the report, “Our home is destroyed. The hospital was burnt. They tried to burn the roof of the church by piling up the chairs, like a bonfire. Life is frightening. We sometimes receive messages of a renewed attack. So we run to hide. We have no means of defence. We don’t have weapons to defend ourselves. There is no kind of security or vigilante support,” (article by Samuel Smith, Christian Post, December 14, 2020 www.christianpost.com).
The very basics that are necessary for community life have been destroyed: their homes, hospital and church. This is heart rending. How do we begin to empathize with them? It is quite impossible. All we can do is sympathize and intercede to God for them.
Apart from those killed, the report estimates that about 12, 000 Christians have been displaced since 2015 as a result of the Fulani attacks. Still, the villagers’ cry for help continues to be ignored by the Nigerian authorities. But the role of a government is to protect its citizens – especially the most vulnerable. It is not enough to verbally protest and condemn the actions of terrorists such as the ISIS fraction in West Africa which killed 11 Christian aid workers the day after Christmas. One was shot and the other ten were beheaded!
President Muhammadu Buhari responded then: “We should, under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims because these barbaric killers don’t represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world.”
However, many people believe that the president and the security forces can do so much more in stemming the attacks by the Fulani militia. The seizing of farmers’ lands by the Fulani herdsmen (a nomadic people numbering about 2 million across West and Central Africa) has been going on in Nigeria for many years now.
“Something has to change — urgently,” the founder of HART passionately pleads. “For the longer we tolerate these massacres, the more we embolden the perpetrators. We give them a ‘green light’ to carry on killing.”
This is so true. Something has to change. Something has to be done – and very soon! And this is affirmed also by “Jubilee Campaign,” a human rights group. Last year, it reported to the International Criminal Court that the “standard of genocide has now been reached” in Nigeria!
We pray that the Lord will counter such a drastic situation and come to the assistance of these helpless folks. For Christians in Nigeria are Nigerians like all others. And everyone ought to be able to practise their religion in peace and safety.