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‘You’re Next’: Parliamentarian Warns White House of Nigerian Terror Threats

Map of Benue State. Map By Himalayan Explorer based on work by Uwe Dedering - Based on File:Nigeria location map.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Map of Benue State. Map By Himalayan Explorer based on work by Uwe Dedering – Based on File:Nigeria location map.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Nigerian lawmaker calls for US action to end escalating violence in Nigeria

By Masara Kim

(Abuja) A Nigerian lawmaker, Mr. Ojotu Ojema, has called for urgent action by U.S. authorities on the ongoing terror threats gripping Africa’s most populous nation.

Parliamentarian Ojotu Ojema, courtesy of Nigerian government.
Parliamentarian Ojotu Ojema, courtesy of Nigerian government.

The escalating violence, overwhelming local authorities, according to Ojema, has raised concerns about destabilizing global security, with potential repercussions for America’s safety, he said.

In a recent report, Intersociety, an international nonprofit tracking genocide around the world claimed more than 150,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria since 2009, with the worst crimes committed in the last 13 months.

The report places Nigeria as the deadliest genocide country behind Syria, which has been battered by civil war since 2011. Intersociety claims that more than 8,222 Christians were killed by Islamic extremists since January 2023.

The report comes as U.S Congressmen on the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee have called for the designation of Nigeria as a country of particular concern  (CPC) for religious freedom violations.

A resolution  (HR 82) sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), passed the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Feb. 6 urged the U.S. State Department to label Nigeria as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. The resolution opposes the choice to exclude Nigeria as a CPC within three years of mass violations.  The resolution  passed on a Party line vote of 26 Republicans in favor, 21 Democrats against. To become law, HR 82 must be ratified by a majority of the House of Representatives. In the waning months of the Trump Administration, the White House designated Nigeria as a CPC nation, which greatly embarrassed the Nigerian officials, according to former Assistant Secretary of State Robert Destro. President Biden’s Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, removed the CPC status for Nigeria without explanation prior to his first trip to Nigeria in November of 2021.

Smith, criticizing the U.S. State Department for excluding Nigeria in its religious freedom reports for three consecutive years argued; “the Nigerian government has allowed widespread murder and violence by failing to act and protect victims and prosecute Islamist terrorists.”

“There was an immediate increase in violence toward Christians in Nigeria when President Biden removed that nation from the CPC list,” wrote Rev. William J. Murray III, the chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. to TruthNigeria by text message. 

The Epoch Times reported in July 2022 that more Christians were killed in Nigeria after Biden’s administration declared there were no religious freedom violations in the country.

Christian massacres soared by more than 15 percent in Nigeria in 2022 compared with a total of 4,650 deaths reported by Open Doors International the previous year, according to Intersociety.

The attacks maintained a steady rise in the following years with the period from January 2023 becoming the bloodiest.

“It has the tendency to escalate to other countries,” said Ojema, the House Committee Chairman on National Inland Waterways.

“If it escalates, everyone will be affected,” Ojema said to TruthNigeria by telephone. “Nigerians will be affected, foreigners will be affected,” Ojema warned, noting terrorists sneaking into the country through the porous borders are responsible for the attacks.

“We believe they are foreigners coming to displace our communities and take over our lands. And if this continues, the long-term effect will be global. Even those in support of it will somehow be affected. The same thing they are doing here, they are doing in other parts of the North like Katsina and Zamfara. They have their own ideology, and anyone who does not align with it is a target,” Ojema said, warning that the whole country could fall to an Islamist takeover.

More than 60 people have been killed this year alone in Ojema’s constituency of Apa and Agatu counties in Benue State, Ojema said to TruthNigeria.

“What is happening is very worrisome,” he added. “Just yesterday I visited my constituency. Up to three council wards [districts] have been displaced. One ward of Ikobi alone has eight to nine villages. Then you have Mana, Udimeku, Idoko all displaced. I’m talking about all the villages in the local government with the exception of Ugboko, the local government headquarters. All the villagers are now crowding in the local government headquarters because the villages are not safe,” he said.

Ikobi, one of the worse-hit districts in Apa county with more than one million population, according to residents speaking to Daily Trust, has seen sustained attacks leading to dozens of deaths since February 14 alone.  Ojema told TruthNigeria at least 15 people were killed in the attacks targeting farming communities in the area.

Town leaders interviewed by Daily Trust said several residents are still unaccounted for following the attacks on the few remaining villages following previous attacks causing widespread displacements.

Barrister Eche Akpoko, the Chairman of the Apa Development Association, said the affected villages include Ijaha- Ibele Ochumekwu, Adija and Kano.

The attacks in Benue have been attributed to terrorists identifying as members of the majority Muslim Fulani ethnicity have been chiefly under-reported and frequently aggregated into reports of sporadic criminal gang clashes and tribal feuds  s wracking the state.

In recent years, Fulani terrorists have been charged with six times more Christian deaths than  caused by Boko Haram: 28,997, according to Mr. Vincent Gisaor, a professor of Economics at the Federal University, Wukari, quoted by Premium Times.

Intersociety reports that of the 8,222 Christians killed between January 2023 and January 2024, a staggering 1,450 Christian Deaths were reported in Benue, the highest in a single state in the country. Benue was followed by Plateau State with 1,400 deaths and then Kaduna, with 822 deaths.

“I think it has gotten to a point where we have to admit the Nigerian government is overwhelmed. The military no longer has capacity to save the situation. You will see a soldier here, and attacks will be happening in another place nearby and it keeps on happening. So if you have the capacity to eliminate the criminals, and you, don’t do something, it will consume all of us,” said Ojema.

Masara Kim is an award-winning conflict reporter in Jos and the senior editor of TruthNigeria.

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