Nigerian Christians are gripped with terror after a wave of attacks followed Nigeria’s presidential election. Faith leaders and politicians are now voicing concerns about an expanding Islamic caliphate.
More than 1,041 Christians have been murdered by Muslim extremists across Africa’s most populous nation this year alone, according to Emeka Umeagbalasi, a respected criminologist and genocide researcher who is chairman of the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), an organization that tracks and reports genocide in Nigeria.
He says the attacks have been influenced by the outcome of the presidential election, which produced a Muslim president- and vice president-elect for the first time in the country’s history.
“Seventy to 80 percent of the attacks occurred a week before the elections or shortly after,” he says, with Boko Haram, Fulani Islamists and ISIS responsible for most of the carnage.
Militants who identify as members of the tribe include village-raiding semi-nomadic herdsmen and kidnap-for-ransom bandit terrorists besieging the northwest and north-central regions. Attacks by the Fulani militants have taken six times more lives than Boko Haram in recent years, according to the HART Foundation, a UK-based nonprofit organization.
Fulani terrorists are responsible for more than half of the killings this year, including the deaths of more than 528 Christians as of April 10, Umeagbalasi said.
The attacks in Nigeria are genocidal against Christians, according to Solomon Maren, a member of the Nigerian House of Representatives.
President Muhammadu Buhari—who boasted of making “successes on security” in a tweet for Easter on April 7—has “turned a blind eye” to the attacks, which have surged in recent weeks, according to Maren, who represents a district in Plateau state in the Nigerian House.
“Consistently, we see Christians being massacred, and the president, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is not doing anything to stop them,” Maren told The Epoch Times.
On April 16, in one of the latest instances, a series of attacks were directed against five villages 30 miles southeast of Jos, the capital of Plateau state. The attacks claimed “several lives and properties” according to Plateau Gov. Simon Lalong.
For several hours, 200 to 300 terrorists armed with assault rifles swarmed the Christian communities on the boundaries of Mangu and Bokkos counties, burning houses and shooting at residents as they tried to flee, Alams told The Epoch Times.
A group of 20 to 30 civilian volunteers fighting with homemade single-shot guns in each community were only successful in delaying the terrorists to enable women and children to escape, he said.
“They were overwhelmed,” Alams said, noting that a military task force located 10 miles away didn’t arrive at the scene until six hours later.
Emmanuel Ogebe, leader of a Nigerian law group in the United States, has alleged that the recent declaration of the Muslim candidate of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the Feb. 25 presidential elections in the country is the motivation for the surging attacks.
“Already, Muslims have been celebrating an ‘Islamic republic of Nigeria’ because Tinubu [Bola Ahmed—the Nigerian presidentelect] picked a fellow Muslim as vice president instead of a Christian as has been the practice,” Ogebe told The Epoch Times in a text message.
The attacks often described by genocide deniers as clashes between sedentary farmers and seminomadic herdsmen are aimed at imposing an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, Maren said. “When you look at the patterns of attacks, who the victims are, and the fact that they always drive out people and settle in their lands, you cannot rule out the fact that there is an agenda that is being carefully and systematically implemented,” he said. Andrew Boyd, spokesman for Release International in the UK, agrees.
“The violence is often simplistically characterized as clashes between herders and farmers, ignoring the religious dimension behind many of the attacks which have the characteristics of an Islamist jihad,” he wrote in a statement mailed to The Epoch Times.
“Predominantly Christian villages have been overrun, church buildings destroyed, and pastors targeted for assassination. Villagers are being burned out of their homes.”
Kyle Abts, president of the International Committee on Nigeria, has called for international sanctions to be imposed on Nigerian officials for encouraging killings.
“The world must hold the Nigeria government accountable for the egregious manner in which it is destroying its citizens and their democracy,” Abts wrote to The Epoch Times in a text message.
“The Nigerian government lied to the world that they would be able to conduct a free and fair election and that the terrorism would stop. Neither happened and we have returned to violence, kidnappings, and killings.”