Wednesday, September 12, 2018

RLPB 472. Nigeria: Christian Crisis in North & Middle Belt

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 472 | Wed 12 Sep 2018

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by Elizabeth Kendal


Dorcas Chrisanthus
Charles and Dorcas Chrisanthus have a farm in Bare ward in predominantly Christian Numan Local Government Area (LGA) of Nigeria's eastern Adamawa State, an area known for its Christian resistance to Fulani-Muslim dominance in the state. [See World Watch Monitor (WWM), Nigeria, June 2018)] On 29 August terror struck the Chrisanthus' farm; Dorcas clung tightly to the couple's four-month-old son as her husband was butchered before her eyes. According to Dorcas: 'His attackers, led by our Fulani neighbours, repeatedly stabbed him on the back and on his stomach before beheading my husband in our farm and made (sic) away with his head.' The next day, as Dorcas and three other eye witnesses registered their complaints with the State Criminal Investigation Department, locals discovered that the killers were receiving medical aid at a local hospital. Dorcas insists that the police were shielding them. Some arrests have since been made. Charles Chrisanthus (a Christian) was the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Adamawa State, which stands in opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the party of President Muhammadu Buhari (a Fulani Muslim).


In the last week of August, Fulani militants attacked a string of villages in Barkin Ladi LGA, Plateau State. According to World Watch Monitor, more than 14 people were killed, 95 houses were burnt down and 225 farm crops awaiting harvest were destroyed. The militants invaded Abonong Village on the evening of 28 August, shooting and creating panic. They invaded the home of Rev Adamu Wurim Gyang (50), located on the church premises. Rev. Gyang locked himself in a room with his three boys, while his wife, Jummai, locked herself in a toilet. Jummai was shot and killed, while the pastor and his boys were burnt alive. The family's eldest son, Adamu (27) was at university in Jos when the attack took place; his life will never be the same.

When the military eventually arrived, they immediately started arresting distraught local youths who had taken to the streets to protest the insecurity. When a local woman objected, insisting the soldiers focus on arresting Fulani militants, the soldiers shot her dead. World Watch Monitor's 7 September report includes YouTube footage of a trembling and distressed Rev Ezekiel Dachomo pleading for international help to end the killings. Standing over the body of the dead woman, he asks, 'Who are these army men?'  He laments that 'an Islamic agenda is taking over the nation', and ultimately breaks down and sobs inconsolably. The killings in Barkin Ladi LGA have continued into September, with gunmen killing five at Gana-Ropp Village on 4 September and another three, including a pastor, at Nding village on 6 September.

Rev. Ezekiel Dachomo (World Watch Monitor)


The context for the assassination in Adamawa is the organised Islamic advance into Nunman LGA. This in turn exists within the wider context of the organised Islamic advance through Nigeria's Middle Belt [see RLPB 431 (8 Nov 2017)]. This latest violence comes as the ruling APC is reeling from a string of defections as MPs disillusioned by President Buhari's unwillingness to tackle the Fulani violence wracking the North and Middle Belt switch from the APC to the PDP. President Buhari insists that reports of an 'Islamic agenda' are nothing but 'negative propaganda being instigated by outsiders', which he said 'find narrative in the church' despite them being 'without any credible fact'. Instead, Buhari blames the violence -- which he diminishes as mere 'misunderstandings' -- on climate change, political mischief and hostile media. Meanwhile the Christian Crisis in Nigeria's North and Middle Belt continues as one of the worst crises for Christians in the world today.

[A more detailed report will be posted to Religious Liberty Monitoring.]


* intervene in Nigeria so that multitudes will be awakened to the true nature of the evil that is advancing and leading the nation headlong into conflict, poverty, repression, death and despair; may the nation give a collective 'No!' to jihad and the 'Islamic agenda' and a collective 'Yes!' to life and liberty; may the battle be turned back at the gate (Isaiah 28:5-6).

* protect, sustain and bless his persecuted and existentially imperilled Church across Nigeria's North and Middle Belt; may he supply all their needs (spiritual and physical); may the free and prosperous Church in the South rise to the occasion in recognition that the Body of Christ -- their own flesh and blood -- is weeping, bleeding, hungry, displaced, traumatised and dying.

'Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -- when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?' (Isaiah 58:6-7 NIV)


A growing number of Nigerian civic, political and religious leaders are convinced that an Islamic agenda is being advanced. Not only is President Muhammadu Buhari (a Fulani Muslim) unwilling to tackle the escalating Fulani violence ravaging the North and Middle Belt, he is even unwilling to recognise it. Consequently, the killings -- which amount to ethnic cleansing -- continue unabated and with impunity. The security forces, dominated by Fulani Muslims, are not neutral. Nigerian Christians feel vulnerable and abandoned. On 28 August the Christian stronghold of Nunman LGA in Adamawa State was rocked by a gruesome Fulani-led political assassination (beheading). Meanwhile, massacres continue in Plateau State: victims include a pastor burnt alive with three of his sons, after his wife was shot dead. Please pray for Nigeria and its suffering Church.

Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).