The Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi, Bishop of Jos, central Nigeria, where the Islamic Boko Haram Jihadi group first launched its bombing campaign against Christians in 2010 and where Islamic Fulani cattle herdsmen have killed thousands of christians, has joined political and religious leaders in the United States of America to call on the U.S. President, Donald Trump, to address the persecution of christians in northern Nigeria.

Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi of Jos Diocese

Archbishop Kwashi, dismissed claims by both the nigerian government and media reports that the attack on Christian in northern and particularly middle belt region of the country is a “clash between farmers and herdsmen.” The Archbishop pointed out that “If you look at the geography of the killings from the beginning of Boko Haram, and even before that, you would have noticed that the killings are systematic,” the attack by Islamic Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram “are deliberative, they are calculated and those carrying them out are well trained. Everyone knows that they are trained either by Al-Qaeda or ISIS. Everyone knows that they are well armed, they kill soldiers, they kill police. They overrun villages … in the most inhuman ways,” Kwashi said

The religious and political leaders, met at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday 19th December to make their plea. “Christians in Nigeria are under fire in what many are calling a genocide by sectarian groups like Boko Haram,” Republican congressman Ron Estes (Kansas) said and pointed out that as peace is celebrated in the world through the coming of Jesus Christ, “there’s an ongoing crisis that we need to speak about,” and pointed out that it has become necessary to “shed light” on the difficult conditions “more than two million individuals” displaced by Boko Haram jihadists and Fulani herdsmen attacks are facing in Nigeria.

The religious and political leaders called on Donald Trump to move a step further from simply giving humanitarian aid to appoint a special envoy who will work directly with the government and international organisations in order to prevent the killings and persecution. A former Republican congressman Frank Wolf (Va.) said “Nigeria is the largest country in Africa. If it unravels it will pose an existential threat to Europe and many other countries” and pleaded with President Trump “to appoint a special envoy.”

Republican congressman Ron Estes (Kansas)

Estes acknowledged that “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ambassador Sam Brownback, and other government agencies are doing a lot to support peace and stability in this region,” the congressman said. “However, we know more can be done to end the violence and save lives,” stressing that “the problem is serious and time is running out,” Estes added

In 2018 alone, over 2,300 Christians have been killed in the predominantly Christian central region of the country by Islamic Fulani herdsmen, according to the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law and more than 16,000 Christians have been slaughtered in the region over the last three years a report says, while over 900 churches have been burned.

Christians in IDP Camp in Maiduguri

The Archbishop Kwash also expressed the belief that an envoy would “stand in a “neutral place” of “authority” to pressure the Nigerian government to protect its people, regardless of religious denomination. “We need an envoy whose heart and voice will carry the weight necessary to stop the killings,” and appealed “to the kind-heartedness of the Americans,” their “energy, the care, and the concern for justice,” to stop this killing of christians in northern Nigeria. 

“This is a nation that is very rich, a nation that would reduce the burdens of America if it was properly harnessed. One that could help the other African countries,” Kwashi said.

Several other churches leaders have called out for help for christians in the country, including the The Catholic Bishop of Gboko Diocese, William Amove Avenya, said the killings are still persisting and ‘no one is doing anything about it… Fulani tribesmen, armed to the teeth, are murdering pregnant women and children, and destroying our smallholdings,” and warned that “this is a time bomb that threatens to ignite the whole region.”

Date published: 08/01/2019
Written by: Hassan John
Feature image: Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi of Jos Diocese
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