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Nigeria: Genocide warning as new weapons drive out Christians

Christian persecution in Nigeria: as we have noted here at several times, there has been no significant response from Nigerian authorities or the international human rights community to the ongoing persecution of Christians in Nigeria. It is by now abundantly clear that despite occasional promises to act, Nigerian authorities have little or no interest in securing law-abiding, defenseless Christians against these unrelenting massacres, ethnic cleansing, and hostage-cleansing, and just as clear that the UN and other organizations have little to no interest in the plight of Nigerian Christians.

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, nevertheless once again urgently implores the United Nations and the governments of all nations that are committed to human rights and religious freedom to make the plight of Nigeria’s Christians a top priority. Those Christians are walking the way of the Cross. May our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ also bless them with the joy of a resurrection and new flourishing of their communities.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Nigeria from, see here.

“Nigeria genocide warning as new weapons drive out Christians,” Keep the Faith, November 2, 2020:

As attacks continue unabated against Christian villages in Nigeria’s North and Middle Belts, a partner of UK-based Release International believes the violence has the hallmarks of an undeclared jihad.

Rev Hassan John, a Nigerian journalist, analyst and partner of Release, is speaking at live conference events from November 2 – 5 onViolent Christian Persecution in Nigeria. The November 5 event will be live-streamed for public viewing. Details are available from the Release International website.


Heavily armed Fulani militants have been driving out Christian villagers in what some fear is a revival of the Fulani jihad of the 1800s.

But a major difference today is the use of deadly assault rifles and machine guns.

And the latest weapon in the militants’ armoury is a chemical to accelerate the burning down of Christian villages, according to Hassan John, a partner of Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world.

‘They are using the chemical in petrol bombs,’ he says. ‘We are in the middle of the rainy season now, but this burns even in the rain, and when they throw it into the building it burns right down to the cement.’

Rev Hassan John, who works with Release to help pastors in communities under attack, has seen evidence of this chemical in use. ‘It doesn’t just burn the metal roofing, it peels away the plaster on the buildings.’

He believes the ongoing attacks are part of an undeclared jihad against Christians in Nigeria.

‘There is a history of jihad and conquest. We see the same modus operandi as in the jihadi conquest of the 1800s playing out all over again.’

Scale of violence

The scale of the attacks is alarming.

· According to Genocide Watch, more than 5,100 Nigerians were killed in violent attacks in less than a year

· The NGO Intersociety estimates: ‘a daily average of about five Christian deaths’

· In 2019, Intersociety calculates between 1,000 and 1,200 Christians were killed by Fulani militias, and

· According to The Global Terrorism Index (2019) Fulani militants killed more than 2,000 in 2018 alone – making them six times deadlier than Boko Haram terrorists

Evidence of a religious dimension to the violence includes the targeting of pastors and churches, and the renaming of captured villages with Islamic names.

‘Blind eye’

Yet the West, Hassan John believes, is turning a blind eye to the religious dimension for fear of being labeled Islamophobic.

‘In the West, people are weary of any conflict that has to do with religion, that mentions Islam or Muslims. That is understandable, coming from the Iraq war and the issue of Islamophobia.’

The West often regards conflict through a filter of secularism. ‘But Nigerians don’t think secular,’ says Hassan John. ‘We think religion.’ He traces the rise of the violence to the adoption of sharia (Islamic law) by 12 states in the north in the 2000s.

Because of this blind spot to the religious dimension, he believes the West persists in characterizing the conflict as a tribal clash over resources, brought about by climate change. But he dismisses that as ‘simplistic’.

‘These attacks destroy villages and kill women and children at night. If it was just a skirmish, how do you explain the death of predominantly women and children?

‘If it was just a clash between Fulani herders and farmers why would they attack a church and set it ablaze and target church leaders and kill them?

‘Those who try to dismiss this as an economic struggle over resources brought by climate change have a lot of explaining to do.’

Religious dimension

The US State Department has designated Nigeria as ‘a country of particular concern’ for violations of religious freedom. Its 2020 Nigeria report declares:

‘There were multiple reports of criminal attacks on religious and traditional leaders and houses of worship. In the surge of hundreds of kidnappings in 2019, media reported numerous incidents of kidnappings for ransom and the killing of Protestant and Catholic priests.’…

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