The United States recently announced it has enlisted Nigeria among nations closely watched for serious violations of the rights of Christians. The initial reaction by the Nigeria authority was to offer a lame denial. Soon afterwards President Buhari ordered the release of two captives: (1) Sambo Dasuki – security adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan. (2). Sowore – publisher of an online news outlet, Sahara reporters. Both were held against numerous court orders to free them. Both were not held over their religious faiths.
Dasuki was held over phantom allegations of misappropriation of security funds under the former administration of Goodluck Jonathan. He was kept in custody for over four years without formal charges. Worthy of note is the fact that no one linked to that alleged fraud has been convicted. A prominent northerner said Dasuki was held by Buhari for personal reasons. Sowore, on the other hand, was held for daring to organize protests against abuses of judicial process and human rights. Both men can be classified as prisoners of conscience. The United States authority raised concern over serious violations of Christians’ rights. The Nigerian authority freed two illegally detained prisoners of conscience. The ever naive Nigerians felt that Buhari, out of fear of the Trump threat, had acted to ease tension and present self as compliant to court orders. The move was clearly intended to deceive.
Let me help to clarify the points regarding the Jihadist government of Nigeria’s persecution of Christians:
1. The government, within 24hrs, freed some 270 Dapchi schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram. In doing so, it left behind the only Christian girl among them, for refusing to renounce her Christian faith and embrace Islam. The little girl, Leah Sharibu, is still in Boko Haram custody to date. Buhari does not care about her, essentially because of her Christian faith.
2. Massacre of Christians and destruction of their homelands in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi states among others by the government-backed Fulani herdsmen. Buhari showed clear collusion with the murderous herdsmen by refusing to order a clampdown on the herdsmen designated as the fourth most deadly terror group in the world according to world terror index. Not one arrest of the terrorists has been made to date. And whenever locals succeed in capturing one of the marauding herdsmen, government has acted promptly to release them. So no clampdown, no directive to disarm them, no arrests, Miyetti Allah – the umbrella association of the terror group – holding open press conferences claiming responsibilities for the attacks and threatening to launch more notwithstanding. Often they issue their threats flanked by security forces.
Buhari went on air absolving them of guilt and blaming the natives for resisting them. He refused to accept Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are terrorist groups. Nigerians were shocked when the president designated the terror campaign as herders/farmers clashes and argued the issue was about Fulani seeking for grazing rights. He called for respect for Miyetti Allah and shocked the nation by offering that Miyetti Allah is in the same league with Igbo and Yoruba socio-cultural groups – Ohaneze and Afenifere. While he stopped short of directing the herdsmen to be disarmed, he, however, directed the dissolution and disarming of all vigilante groups south of Nigeria. One week later he ordered all community heads in the north to form local vigilantes. Victims of herdsmen attacks were left more vulnerable. Meanwhile, he assigned military escorts to the herdsmen.
Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and later, Boris Johnson, have detailed report on this. They are aware that Buhari has been building the two Jihadist armies to the tune of billions of dollars amid biting poverty ravaging the landscape. They know the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, who once threatened that foreigners who dare poke their nose into Nigeria affairs will go home in body bags, have been a funnel through whom government channel billions to the insurgents.
3. Nigerian soldiers invaded venue where IPOB faithful were in solemn assembly commemorating thousands of Biafrans who have fallen by the bullets of Nigerian soldiers since 1966. Nigerian Muslims see every Igbo as Christian. It actually evokes in them a sort of euphoria whenever Igbos are killed or their business interests destroyed. As IPOB assembled to pray, soldiers broke in and massacred them.
Another mindless killing followed the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Youths who saw the victory of Trump as liberating for Christianity and a possible answer to the realization of the sovereign state of Biafra, trooped out en mass to celebrate his victory. That euphoric celebration was met with military invasions. Many lost their lives.
While Buhari refused to accept Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are terrorists, he quickly moved to designate IPOB as a terrorist organization and proscribed them. He did this to justify killing them and to justify the violation of their rights to peaceful agitations. Though the rest of the world would have none of that. They are aware IPOB are peaceful rights’ agitators committed to the restoration of the independent state of Biafra. They operate within the law. Buhari is killing them because they are Christians while freeing thousands of Boko Haram terrorists detained by the former government of Goodluck Jonathan.
Over the Christmas holidays, Boko Haram released a video showing how they have beheaded 11 Christians. Buhari paid no attention. Just recently his government announced levies rising up to N50,000, equivalent of US$14, for every church wedding in Nigeria, without corresponding levies on Muslim marriages.
Why is the Nigerian authority pretending not to understand what is meant by the United States placing the country in their special watch list of countries with serious violation of the rights of Christians? How does the release of Dasuki and Sowore, good as it sounds, connect with that? Buhari is only playing the Ostrich. But the message isn’t ambiguous at all.
Chibuike John Nebeokike
For: Radio Biafra Media