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Conspiracy of Silence Over Islamist Killing of Christians in Yobe: Clergy

By Mike Odeh James and Luka Binnyat

(Kaduna) Pastors in Nigeria and thought leaders in the United States are decrying the conspiracy of silence by Nigeria’s elected leaders regarding sectarian killings proceeding weekly, TruthNigeria has learned.

A brutal execution of three Christian men yanked off a commercial bus in Yobe June 3, 2024 and videotaped by Islamic State of West Africa wasn’t important enough to get the attention of President Bola Tinubu, or the First Lady, pastor of a prominent Pentecostal church, or of the governors of Yobe or Borneo states.

In another little reported atrocity, suspected Fulani Islamist terrorists killed a pastor, his wife and three other Christians at around midnight on June 2 in Plateau state, central Nigeria, according to the Christian Post. The murders of the sleeping farmers in Plateau State and the hapless bus passengers 500 miles to the east in the killing zones of Yobe State have become weekly tragedies in Nigeria. The fact that president’s and governors won’t acknowledge such atrocities is proof of a conspiracy of silence, according to Kyle Abts, executive director of the International Committee on Nigeria.

“Where is the outrage from the world leaders?” asked Abts.  “Where is the outrage from Nigerian leaders? On June 3, three Christians were just executed by the radical Islamic terrorists, ISWAP. These Islamic terrorists allowed Muslims to flee, but retained the Christians for their propaganda video, which shows their execution. President Tinubu claims that he is, “Taking the battle terrorists” but has done little to stop kidnappings and killings, which often occur on federal roads and property,” according to Abts.

Eleven days after the killing of the Christians, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu and the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, have yet to issue a statement.

 Nor was there any sympathy to the plight of Christians expressed by U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken in his testimony before the U.S. Congress’ Appropriations Committee on May 21. Blinken said he had gathered leaders from the civil society community and the religious community and that he concluded that “the government of Nigeria did not engage in practices of persecution,” whereas it may have been related to ethnicity.  Yet, Rev. Joseph Hayab, the chairman of Kaduna chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, met personally with Blinken during his first trip to Nigeria in 2021 and told Blinken the sectarian murders of Nigerian Christians were horrific.

“The silent genocide of Christians in Nigeria continues under the cloak of darkness supported and promoted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken,” said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians. “At every level of government in Nigeria and as a consequence internationally, government officials are deliberately refusing to make public statements on the execution of three Christian men by ISWAP terrorists,” Laugesen said.

 “It is absurd and appalling that these souls killed simply because of their Christian faith are ignored by the very people sworn to ensure peace, security, and safety while traveling the byways,” she went on to say. “It is a symptom, I believe, of a concerted effort to suppress news of rampant, unmitigated religious terrorism in Africa’s largest nation by population and the U. S. government and media are complicit.”

The attacks near Lake Tchad in the Northeastern states are part of a larger campaign by ISWAP to target Christians  in the Northeast, according to the Secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Yobe State,  Rev. Ibrahim Abako.

Global Solidarity Necessary

Highway scene through Sambisa Forest in Borneo, showing slow-moving traffic preceded by mine sweepers clearing bombs planted by ISWAP and Boko Haram.  Credit Mike James.
Highway scene through Sambisa Forest in Borneo, showing slow-moving traffic preceded by mine sweepers clearing bombs planted by ISWAP and Boko Haram. Credit Mike James.

The fiery Kaduna based Christian Cleric, Rev. David Ayuba Azzaman has denounced the Federal, Borno and Yobe Governments for what he described as marginalization of Christians .

“Christians are denied basic rights and many of them are still languishing in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps while Muslim IDPs have been relocated .

“Therefore, it is not shocking to some of us that the Nigerian government has continued to snub the pains that hit Christendom in Nigeria with the crude killings of our three brethren in Yobe State last week,” he said.

” It’s so sad! In Borno State for instance, the government has stopped the issuance of Certificates of Occupancy ( permits to construct structures), for Churches.

“We also report that most  Internally Displaced Muslims  Persons, in Borno  have relocated to their original  homes facilitated by the state  government while the Christians IDPS are still in camps

“Furthermore, Christians in the Northeast especially states like Borno and Yobe are facing a lot of persecution, regarding Job opportunities and admissions in tertiary institutions in those states,” Azzaman noted .

“This is another time that the Christians in Northeast of Nigeria need global solidarity,” he said.

Double Standard Nigerian Christians

Borno State-based Christian cleric and Director General, Centre for Justice on Religion and Ethnicity in Nigeria, Kallamu Musa-Dikwa, accused President Ahmed Bola Tinubu of Nigeria and the Governor of Borno State for insensitivity and double standard when it comes to  violence against Christians.

“The cruelty of ISWAP in the killing of these three Christian matters has long gone viral, but neither the governor nor Nigerian president have uttered a word of condemnation. Imagine if it was Christians that killed Muslims in that gruesome way.

“As long as the leadership of Yobe State is concerned and that of the presidency, Christian lives don’t matter,” Musa-Dikwa told TruthNigeria.

“We are facing discrimination everywhere in the Northeast. But it is worse in Borno and Yobe State. It is not Only that we get killed and nothing happens, but the teaching of Christian religious studies has been banned in all primary and secondary Schools in these states,” said Dikwa who has had a long feud with Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, Borno State Governor, over allegations of marginalization of Christians.

“We need Christians from all over the world to bear pressure on President Tinubu to come hard on these terrorists and secure our lives and freedom to worship our God,” he said.

Mike Odeh James and Luka Binnyat are conflict reporters for TruthNigeria.

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