Open Letter To Nigerian Christian Leaders

•    Rev Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
CAN National Headquarters, the National Christian Centre
Central Area, Garki, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

•    Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze
President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) &
Archbishop of Benin City
The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria
Plot 459, Cadastral Zone B2, Southern Parkway, Durumi 1
Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

Your Lordships,

Beyond The Communiqué Of The Catholic Bishops & CAN’s Call For All
Christians Protest Over The Killing Of Christians In Nigeria: Other
Available Lawful Steps At Disposal Of Nigerian Christian Leaders

(Intersociety, Nigeria: 29th April 2018)-The two recent statements
through a communiqué released by the Catholic Bishops Conference of
Nigeria, dated 26th April 2018 and a press conference addressed by CAN
through its Secretary Gen, Musa Asake, PhD, dated 27th April 2018 on
rising wave of killing of Christians and destruction of their sacred
places of worship by Fulani and Boko Islamic Jihadists across Nigeria
are a welcome development.

They are also a clear and commendable departure from weak, watery,
cowardly, atrocity friendly and pro establishment statements issued by
some key Christian leaders in recent months in Nigeria inclusive of
that issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria on 8th
February 2018. The said statement of 8th February 2018 is the weakest
of such statements issued in recent years by the leadership of CBCN.

We further saw it as tantamount to “solidarity or carry go” message to
the perpetrators and prompters of the ongoing inter-religious
atrocities in the country. The referenced weak statement was issued by
Your Lordships during Your Lordships visit to the President. The tune
of the statement  also suggested that the Buhari Administration was
visited and thanked by Your Lordships for its quiet and inaction over
the untamed wave of killing of Christians and destruction of their
sacred places of worship in Nigeria.

It is recalled Your Lordships that the commendable and strong worded
Catholic Bishops Conference communiqué of 26th April 2018 was issued
following the killing on 24th April 2018 of two Rev Fathers Joseph Gor
and Felix Tylolaha, of St Ignatius Catholic Church, Mbalom, Benue
State; during which two catechists, altar boys and other parishioners
of the Parish were massacred by Federal Government protected Fulani
Herdsmen in the middle of the Parish’s early morning mass or service.
Their Lordships, the Catholic Bishops led by Your Lordship (Most Rev
Augustine Akubeze) had also travelled to the Vatican City to confer
with the Pope over worrying insecurity of Christians and their sacred
places of worship in Nigeria, among other related issues in the
Catholicism across the world.

Recall too Your Lordships that the referenced Press Conference of the
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), dated 27th April 2018 was
addressed following unending massacre of Christians and destruction of
their sacred places of worship across Nigeria by the duo of terror
Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents; with the Buhari
Administration and its security agencies strongly seen by many as
complicit. The strong worded Press Conference also called for all
Christian protests within the vicinities of their respective churches
and other sacred places of worship; to be specifically held today 29th
April and on 6th May 2018.

Having carefully read and studied the two statements, it gladdens our
heart that Nigerian Christian leaders are beginning to wake up from
their chronic slumber and realize the dangers of imminent extinction
of Christian Faith in Nigeria and its replacement with Islamic
Caliphate throughout the country particularly in the Middle Belt,
Southeast and South-south Nigeria.

Our Organization has severally joined other Nigerians of good
conscience and pacifism to call on all Christian leaders in Nigeria to
shun crude pursuit and worship of ill-gotten wealth and their wielders
and rise in strong defense of Christian Faith in Nigeria. We had also
called on them to focus and properly direct their energies towards the
protection and growth of Christian Religion from the crushing hands of
Jihadism and be tolerant of indigenous religions and their sacred
places of worship.

Instead of dissipating energies locating and destroying in bushes,
forests, community squares and centres; of artefacts and other
religious symbols of traditional religionists including cultural
monuments such as communal “Ikoro Gongs” and labelling them “Satanic
instruments of worship”, Christians in Nigeria under Your Lordships
including “crusade warriors” should focus their attention more in the
direction of real enemies of the Christian Faith including conquering
of aggressor Jihadists by prayers and anointing; and leave traditional
religionists and their sacred symbols of faith and places of worship

We had also in our research statement of Sunday, 22nd April 2018,
graphically brought to the attention of Your Lordships and other
Christian leaders in Nigeria the systematic patterns and trends of
slaughtering in the name of Islam, of Christians and indiscriminate
destruction of their sacred places of worship across the world;
leading to global death of 270m Christians and ors since 622AD or past

The research statement, titled: imminent extinction of Christian Faith
and rise of Islamic Caliphate in Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria...,
was dated 22nd April 2018. See for full
details. The statement also gave detailed account of patterns and
trends of killing of Christians in Nigeria since 1945, leading to
death of over 300, 000 Christians excluding the massacre of over 3m
Christians dominated by native Igbo Christians during the
Biafra-Nigeria Civil War of 1967-70.

True to the choice of words of the Catholic Bishops in their strongly
worded communiqué, Mr. President of Nigeria has been presiding over
killing fields in the country since mid 2015. We also agree in
totality with the leadership of CAN that Nigeria “has turned to River
of Blood flowing endlessly” under the Buhari Administration and that
“Islamist insurgents are pushing Nigeria off the Edge of Precipice”.
We further agreed with CAN which correctly accused “security forces of
collaborating with killers of Christians and destroyers of their
sacred places of worship” and “undeniable endorsement of the genocide
by the Buhari Administration”. It is a truism that MACBAN combines
(religious) blood with enterprise in their so called cattle herding
which is now a national security policy of the Buhari Administration
or Cattletocracy.

As correctly observed and disclosed by CAN in its Press Conference of
27th April 2018, “past few days of April 2018 had witnessed wanton
killing by Fulani Herdsmen and related others of over 300 defenceless
Christians in Benue State alone” and that “no fewer than 74 Christians
were slaughtered in the State in less than 72hrs between 24th and 26th
April 2018”.

Further statistics by CAN showed that 19 Christians were massacred at
St Ignatius Catholic Church, Mbalom. No fewer than 23 Christians were
massacred in Guma Local Government Area of the State on 25th April
2018 and 27 Christians killed in the same Guma Local Government Area
of the State on 26th April; with separate five others massacred in
another community inside church premises located in the same Guma
Local Government Area on same 26th April 2018; totalling death of 74
defenceless Christians.

Our statistics additionally show that Fulani Islamist Jihadists’
attacks on two churches in Benue State killed no fewer than 24
Christian worshippers on 24th and 26th April 2018.  In the past four
months of 2018, over 1000 Christians have been killed by terror Fulani
Herdsmen in the States of Benue, Southern Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa,
Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa States; out of which Christian killings in
Benue accounted for 50% or over 500 deaths while over 500 others died
in Taraba, Adamawa, Kogi, Plateau and Southern Kaduna. Scores have
also been slain in Edo, Delta, Ondo, Enugu, Abia, Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi
States, etc.

By the end of this year 2018, if care is not properly taken, it may
most likely be the bloodiest year for Christians in Nigeria in the
hands of terror Fulani Herdsmen. Having killed over 1000 Christians in
the past four months, Christian death toll may mostly likely hit 4000
or more by the end of 2018. In 2014 alone, terror Boko Haram killed
over 5700 mainly Christians in Nigeria while terror Fulani Herdsmen
killed 1,229 Christians in the same year.

Independent concerns over undeniable complicity of Nigerian security
forces especially the Nigerian Army and the Police in these killings
have continuously grown and manifested openly across the country. The
invasion and ransacking by soldiers of the Nigerian Army on 26th April
2018 of the Parish House of Rev Father Vesuwe Benjamin; a priest
attached to the Catholic Archdiocese of Gboko; barely 48 hours after
terror Fulani Herdsmen invaded St Ignatius Catholic Church in same
Benue State and massacred two Priests, two catechists and fifteen
other parishioners; is a clear case in point.

The soldiers had invaded his Parish House and turned everything
including his sacred cassock wardrobe upside down claiming that they
were searching for weapons kept by the Rev Father; yet none of the
Fulani Herdsmen that massacred 19 worshippers at St Ignatius Catholic
Church in the State, with their AK-47s has been arrested.

As a clear confirmation that the ongoing killing of Christians and
destruction of their sacred places of worship in Nigeria is solely
targeted at Christians, their sacred places of worship, communities
and farmlands/bans; Your Lordships, all the following fifteen names of
the slain victims and four badly injured others; who are victims of
terror Fulani Herdsmen attacks on 25th April 2018 in Ali-Agudu Village
of Guma Local Government Area of Benue State are Christians.

The names of the fifteen slain Christians were given as Member Martha
Ugbuudsu, Okohol Nyamve, Zaki Michael Alaaga, Cosmos Alaaga, Ukaana
Ujir, Terdoo Ivokor, Paulina Augustine, Ushiveer Tyeku, Mayooga Tyeku,
Magreti Mtem, Charity Shomngi, Babangida Kuuga, Kulega Babangida,
Akombobee Bua and Michael Akosu. The Four injured ones are Bridget
Ugbuusu, Hannah Kaduna, Eucharia Anyoko and Wankaa Zende.

The above further shames and exposes the falsehood of the present
central Government and a section of complicit media that the killings
are grazing and farming violence related and raises the following
questions: why is it that Fulani Herdsmen attacks and destruction of
sacred places of worship are only targeted at Christian communities?
Are Christians the only farmers in Plateau, Yobe, Kogi, Nasarawa,
Benue, Southern Kaduna, Taraba and Adamawa States? What have grazing
got to do with killing of Christian worshippers, priests and
destruction of churches?

Beyond issuance of the two powerful and strong worded statements above
by the Catholic Bishops Conference and the Christian Association of
Nigeria, more lawful and coordinated efforts are needed to checkmate
the ongoing orgy of butchery on the ground of faith in Nigeria. The
CAN’s call for all Christian protests locally and internationally and
their methods of actualization is to say the least, weak,
uncoordinated and incoherent with expressive traditions of Christian
assemblies across the world. The expressive traditions of Christian
assemblies including Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal Churches are
religious processions with signs of the cross and other Christian
symbols and armouries such as Holy Bibles and the “Blessed Sacrament”
of the Catholic Church.

Calling on “Christians to embark on mere mortal protests” without
their spiritual armouries such as Holy Bibles, signs of the cross and
Blessed Sacrament is like a benevolent native doctor embarking on a
tasking journey without his seer’s bag and sacred sceptre (Offor). The
national leadership of CAN should therefore retreat and return to
their planning or drawing board, re-jig their strategies and come up
with effective modalities for organizing “national and zonal holy
processions” with full sacred Christian procession paraphernalia

The processions should be effectively covered by local and
international media and periodically held on Sundays under the
coordination of CAN and CBCN. This method must be devoid of “ hit and
run” tactics or fire brigade approach but made bi-monthly until the
federal authorities are compelled to wake up to their constitutional
responsibilities of properly and equitably manning the security of the
country, persons and properties irrespective of religious and ethnic
sentiments or considerations.

Another part of lawful steps by Christian leaders to checkmate the
orgy of butchery against Christians and destruction of their sacred
places of worship in Nigeria will be to get all Christian members of
the National Assembly to embark on periodic including bi-monthly
boycott of the proceedings of the National Assembly with effective
local and international media coverage until the Presidency of
Muhammadu Buhari reverses itself and do the needful including rising
to its constitutional duties of properly administering the pluralistic
Nigeria and its securitization.

There is also need to introduce benevolent political Christianity to
checkmate malevolent political Islam and its social, security and
political schisms in Nigeria. Establishment of research centres by CAN
and CBCN with periodic generation of research findings across the
country on number of Churches destroyed and Christians killed by
Islamist Jihadists as well as identification of State and non State
actor perpetrators involved and related others  is of particular

This should include proper profiling of witnesses including relatives
of the slain and wounded victims and scenes of crime testimonials as
well as welfare committees to cater for slain victims’ relatives and
wounded others. Church services and sermons should be reviewed to
accommodate enlightenment sessions for the congregants and the
clergies from research findings generated from Christian research
centres across Nigeria; on the state of church or Christianity in
Nigeria including its growth or under-growth, threats and challenges,

Christian leaders should organize periodic national and international
press conferences on the state of Christianity in Nigeria including
periodic international joint press conferences and communiqués with
the likes of the Papacy at Vatican’s St Peter’s Square in the case of
Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, etc. Effective international
networking and contacts as well as diplomatic pressures are further
needed especially by engaging the United Nations and its relevant
bodies and world leading democratic nations including United States
and other nonviolent and liberal religious friendly countries, bodies
and institutions.

Further research is periodically needed by Christian leaders
especially in the areas of regional and international criminal and
civil justice remedies such as using the instrumentality of the ICC
and its Rome Statute to cause and bring State and non State actor
atrocity perpetrators to be held to account for their crimes against
humanity, conscience and religion including atrocities they committed
in the ongoing wave of violence against defenceless Christians and
their sacred places of worship. Other lawful steps to quench
slaughtering of Christians in Nigeria or any part thereof are lined up
for release in our subsequence public statements.

Attached Pictures are those of killing fields in Benue (courtesy of
Stop the Benue Genocide Facebook page) and ransacked Parish House of
Rev Father Vesuwe Benjamin of the Catholic Archdiocese of Gboko (
posted on 26th April 2018 courtesy of Morris Bogzy Bogbenda Facebook

Yours Faithfully,

For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Barr Obianuju Joy Igboeli
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Barr Chinwe Umeche
Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program