…Religious leaders issue prayer appeal
By Gbenga Ogundare
Following spiraling massacre of Christians in Northern Nigeria, religious leaders around the world, including those in the United States have asked their members to pray for the christian community in Nigeria, especially the northern part of the country where more than a dozen Christians have been murdered in recent months.
Violent killings of Christians in northern Nigeria has increased by 62% in just one year, according to the 2016 World Watch List.
A report to be released in Abuja by Open Doors and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), entitled ‘Crushed but not defeated, the impact of persistent violence on the church in northern Nigeria’, gives a troubling detail of the violence that has contributed to the sustained decimation of Christian communities in the country.
In 2015, there were at least 4,028 killings and 198 church attacks alleged to have taken place, while figures for the previous year were 2,484 killings and 108 church attacks.
An estimated 30 million Christians in northern Nigeria form the largest minority in a predominantly Muslim environment. And for decades, Christians in the region have suffered marginalization and discrimination as well as targeted violence.
Members of Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN) speaking through the Executive Director, Dr. Ade Oyesile, said, “we are saddened by the rapid occurrences of these atrocious killings without a corresponding accountability being meted to the growing list of perpetrators”. CANAN now calls on the federal government to go beyond mere expression of shock at the vicious killings and set in motion practical steps to stem this ugly spectacle of continuous massacre of Christians.
“As at July 20, 2016, our records show that at least 384 Christians have been killed and 111 injured in various parts of the country. With just weeks past mid-year, this figure compares in a scaring proportion to a total of 431 deaths and 301 injured Christians in the entire 2015.”
“These killings, we noticed, are carried out either by tit-for-tat attacks, arson on properties especially churches or the targeted systemic killings of Christians perpetuated by the Boko Haram terrorist religious sectarian group.”
“Our figures of Christians killed and maimed by Muslims corroborates with documentation by “The Religion of Peace,” a magazine that chronicles attack on Christians. The magazine gives even more details of the vicious killings in 2016 alone as follows:
“On January 27, at least16 Christians were killed and 32 injured when a suicide bomber sent a shrapnel at a vegetable market in Chibok a Christian town in Maiduguri.
“On January 29, in Adamawa, 10 Christians were killed and 28 injured when a suicide bomber detonates a bomb at a busy market near a church. All the victims were Christians.”
“On February 14 in Abbi community in Uzo-Uwani, Enugu State, Fulani herdsmen killed 2 Christians when a brother and sister were hacked down in a Christian dominated community. 19 people were injured.”
“On February 24 in Agatu, Benue State, the nation witnessed the merciless killings of at least 300 Christians by radical Islamic mercenaries including pregnant women.”
“In Enugu on April 25, 48 Christians were killed and 60 injured by Fulani herdsmen.’
“On April 30 in Dadawa, an outskirt of Sabongari in Kano State, a man and his daughter were burnt alive in a church by Boko Haram.’
“At Ninte village, in Jema’a local government in Kaduna State on May 31, just a month after, 3 Christians were burnt to death in a Pastors’ home as they slept.”
“In Kano on June 2, a Christian woman was beheaded by Islamic fundamentalist after a minor argument.’
“On June 30 at Obi town in Nasarawa State, a Pastor was killed by a militant Muslim.’
“The July 9 incident where a female Pastor was hacked to death in the FCT by Muslim radicals traumatized every right thinking individual.’
“This dastardly killings of Christians in the country MUST stop. It is most disappointing that these unprovoked killings of Christians have continued despite the federal government condemnation statements.’
“There is palpable anger in the land and it is anger without answers from the federal government which has a direct responsibility to secure the lives of all citizens.”
“This is more so as we Christians do not preach gospel of retaliation, we preach peace and peace we are seeking now.”
“Whatever the federal government is doing, if any, is either too slow or insignificant compared with the reoccurrence of the killings; the federal government needs to step up and take bold actions to give members of the Christian community in the country a sense of security and belonging.”