The Beginning of a Genocide in Northern Nigeria?
Warning: This alert contains extremely graphic images that may be disturbing to some readers. Please ask any young children to leave the room before continuing. We are not including these images to shock or offend, but simply to convey to you the reality of what is happening in Nigeria – the time has come to wake up to the truth!
You may recall our alert following the horrific Christmas Day 2011 church bombing by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram that claimed the lives of at least 45 Christians. Sadly, far from serving as a wake-up call for both the international community and the Nigerian government, the Christmas Day attacks were merely a sombre preview of things to come. The situation in Nigeria is increasingly urgent, and if immediate action is not taken to bring to an end the slaughter of Christians, we could be witnessing the beginning of a genocide in Northern Nigeria.
This Sunday morning (Nigerian time), Islamic extremists carried out 3 coordinated attacks on churches in Kaduna region, leaving at least 44 dead and hundreds more wounded – although the numbers are likely to rise as the casualties are fully accounted for. The first attack took place in the town of Zaria, when a suicide bomber drove through a barricade and detonated a massive explosion that killed 24 worshippers and wounded over 100 others. Within a few minutes, a second bomb went off at a nearby church, killing another 10 and wounding approximately 50. A third bomb was detonated in the city of Kaduna approximately 30 minutes later.
Even by the most conservative estimates, at least 200 Christians have been killed at the hands of Islamic extremists during the first 6 months of 2012, in addition to the thousands killed over the previous two years. Although the Western media has used phrases such as “sectarian violence” and “religious conflict,” the past two years can only be described as a massacre of the Christian community. Boko Haram and its followers have repeatedly and publicly stated their goal: to remove the Christian presence from Northern Nigeria either by killing Christians or driving them out of their homes through fear. Such a plan amounts to nothing less than genocidal intent.
The growing danger faced by Christians in Northern Nigeria is further illustrated by the fact that Christian churches have been targeted on each of the two Sundays leading up to the latest attacks. The June 3 attack in Bauchi left 21 Christians dead and at least 45 others injured, whereas the bombing in Jos the following Sunday killed 2 and injured more than 40 Christian worshippers – the third such attack in Jos in 2012. Also on June 10, gunmen affiliated with Boko Haram killed at least two Christian worshippers during a church service in Borno state.
These attacks are merely the latest bloody chapter in a violent campaign aimed at Christians in Nigeria. While we will not endeavour to bring you anexhaustive list of these horrific attacks, the following examples should serve as a wake-up call for all who care about human rights (Christian and non-Christian alike) to speak out and take action to bring to an end the violence in Nigeria. On Easter Sunday (April 8), for instance, a suicide bomber attempting to attack a Christian church killed over 40 people and injured dozens more. At least eleven more Christian worshippers were killed in two separate attacks on churches in Jos, on February 26 and March 11 respectively – and in both cases the bomber was diverted just prior to detonating the explosives, failing which the casualty figures would have been even higher. Other bombings in Suleja on Sunday, February 19, and in Bauchi City on Sunday, January 22, left approximately 10 more Christians dead and many others injured. In the week from January 3 to 9 alone, Boko Haram took credit for the killings of 44 Christians in 4 Nigerian states.
There are reports from some media outlets that a group of Christians engaged in retaliatory killings after the latest gruesome attacks. At this time, we cannot confirm either the reports of the killings themselves or whether the attackers were, in fact, Christians. If these reports are true, our hearts are grieved for this additional loss of life, and our prayers go out to the families of those who died. One Free World International does not condone violence of any kind, and we urge the Christian community in Nigeria not to seek retribution by returning evil for evil.
However, even if these reports are true, the isolated actions of a few in no way diminish either the horror of the past attacks or, more importantly, the present and increasing danger facing Christians in Northern Nigeria. Additionally, such regrettable actions are a testament to the lack of protection provided by the central government, which causes some to believe (however wrongly) that their only option is to take matters into their own hands.
Indeed, despite the escalating campaign to eliminate Christianity from Northern Nigeria, the central government has failed to suppress Islamic extremism and groups such as Boko Haram, or to prevent repeated attacks on Christian communities. While we acknowledge that some efforts at protection have been made, when it comes to preventing the massacre of human beings, ‘best efforts’ and ‘good intentions’ are simply not enough. Moreover, our sources indicate that police and security forces were warned on a number of occasions that the attacks detailed above would take place, but did not intervene to protect the Christian churches. By turning a blind eye to the attacks, the police and military have become complicit in these atrocities.
It is vital that we call on our political leaders to hold the Nigerian government accountable for its failure to protect the Christian community. We are grateful that both Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have issued statements following two of the attacks this year – on April 8 and May 1 respectively. However, it is imperative that our governments’ response not be restricted to isolated statements condemning individual attacks. Public statements by our governments, while vital, are only the first step and must be backed up by consistent and sustained pressure on the Nigerian government to take action against Islamic extremists through diplomatic efforts and through linking our trade and aid to progress on human rights.
We must not forget that our brothers and sisters in Nigeria are not blessed with the peace and security we enjoy. We cannot afford to stand by as Christians are massacred simply because of their faith and religious practices. OFWI has been working to provide medical and humanitarian aid to the wounded in these attacks through our contacts in the region. Nigerian Christians desperately need our support, so please take a few moments from your day to join us in seeking justice and peace for our brothers and sisters. Your prayers, letters, and financial support are vitally important to reach the victims of these attacks with your comfort and encouragement. We must stand with our brothers and sisters and for their right to live and worship without fear of being killed for their faith. Please make your voice heard on behalf of the Christians in Nigeria.
• for courage, faith, and strength for the Christians in Nigeria during this time of deep trial. Pray that they would be encouraged and strengthened to stay true to their faith, in order that they might be a shining beacon of truth and the love of Christ both in a country desperately looking for light and throughout the whole world;
• for peace and healing in the country of Nigeria. Pray that the violence would be stopped, and that Christians would be able to live and worship in peace and security without fear of attack;
• that those carrying out these attacks would come to realize the wrongfulness of their acts and that they would seek the love and forgiveness of God and in turn apply their energies toward spreading peace rather than violence;
• that the Lord will give the Nigerian Christians the ability to forgive even when they are under constant attack. Pray that the Christians would not seek vengeance or return evil for evil, but that they would be filled with God’s love and grace even towards those who seek to kill them;
• for the Nigerian people as a whole, that they would be united and find true peace and meaning in the Prince of Peace.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
• to the Nigerian high commissioner or ambassador to your country demanding that the Nigerian government take immediate and meaningful action to ensure the security of Christian communities and to control the violent extremist groups responsible for these attacks;
• to your Foreign Minister or Secretary of State, thanking them for their statements on the Nigerian attacks and insisting that they continue, through consistent attention to these issues both on the diplomatic front and through trade and aid policy, to hold the Nigerian government accountable for the protection of its citizens from Islamic extremism;
• to your Prime Minister or President directly, urging them to intervene in this urgent matter and use the full influence of their office to secure an immediate end to these massacres and to obtain assurances that the Christians will be protected from further attacks.
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at:
Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
Rev. Majed El Shafie
President and Founder
One Free World International
El Shafie Ministries
His Excellency Iyorwuese Hagher
High Commissioner for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
295 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1R9
Tel.: (613) 236-0521; Fax: (613) 236-0529
The Honourable John Baird
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Tel.: (613) 996-0984; Fax: (613) 996-9880
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Tel.: (613) 992-4211; Fax: (613) 941-6900
In the United States:
His Excellency Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 986-8400 ext. 1097 or 1098; Fax: (202) 362-6541 or (202) 775-1385
Secretary Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard)
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Tel.: (202) 456-1414 (Main switchboard)
His Excellency Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida
High Commissioner for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
9 Northumberland Ave
London WC2N 5BX
Tel.: (44) 207 8391244; Fax: (44) 207 83987463519
The Right Honourable William Hague
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Tel.: 020 7008 1500 (Main switchboard)
The Right Honourable David Cameron
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister’s Office
10 Downing Street
Fax: 020 7925 0918