Nigeria has re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari to govern his nation for a second term. As attacks continue against Christians in the north, Release International believes the president’s number one priority must be to protect his nation’s vulnerable Christian communities.
The Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria as the third most terrorised country for the fourth consecutive year. Between them, Boko Haram and Fulani militants have killed tens of thousands and driven millions from their homes.
‘They have killed with impunity, and that impunity must stop,’ says Paul Robinson, the CEO of Release, which supports persecuted Christians around the world.
Release warns of increasing attacks against Christians by heavily armed Fulani militants, along with continuing assaults by Boko Haram terrorists – previously declared defeated by President Buhari.
In late January, Boko Haram devastated the north-eastern border town of Rann, slaughtering around 60 people. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies described the attack as the deadliest yet by the Islamist terror group, driving 40,000 people across the border into Cameroon.
Last year saw a sharp rise in attacks by Fulani militants, who slaughtered almost 2,000 people – six times the number killed by Boko Haram in 2018, according to the Global Terrorism Index.
These attacks are against mainly defenceless farmers in largely Christian areas. The effect is to drive Christians from the north, fuelling suspicion that the attackers may be serving a similar Islamist agenda to Boko Haram.
The Fulani are cattle herders and desertification has put their grazing land under threat. But this does not account for the destruction by the Fulani of Christian villages and churches.
Christian leaders say the attacks by heavily armed herdsmen amount to ethnic and religious cleansing. They also accuse the military of standing by and failing to prevent the raids. Some even claim collusion by Islamist elements in the armed forces.
‘Questions remain about who is arming the Fulani and why? Whose agenda do they serve by attacking Christians? And why has the government of Nigeria done so little to disarm them?’ asks Paul Robinson of Release.
‘Nigeria’s re-elected president must answer these questions – and take immediate action to stop the violence.’
Release International partner, the Anglican Archbishop of Jos Ben Kwashi says: ‘The government has been unable to provide security for the poor. The government must rise to its responsibility to mete out justice and save lives.’
Through its international network of missions Release International is active in more than 30 countries around the world, supporting pastors, Christian prisoners and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles; and working for justice.