After a fact-finding mission to Nigeria, Baroness Cox has reported that extremists in northern and Middle Belt Nigerian states have killed thousands of Christians.
Armed Fulani militants are targeting Christian communities in an aggressive and strategic land-grabbing policy, epitomised in the phrase, “your land or your blood”.
“I have visited many of the affected areas and seen the tragedies of death and destruction. In every village, the message from local people is the same: ‘Please help us! The Fulani are coming’,” reports Baroness Cox. She goes on to warn, “The longer we tolerate these massacres, the more we embolden the perpetrators. We give them a green light to carry on killing.”
Baroness Cox, a patron of Barnabas Fund, found that there is a deliberate targeting of Christian pastors and community heads. It is estimated that over 1,000 Christians have been killed since January and more than 6,000 slaughtered since 2015. Almost two million people are believed to have become internally displaced in Nigeria, largely because of the attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani extremists.
Survivors report horrific incidents where heavily armed militants have killed, maimed, burned and kidnapped Christians. “Persecution is real here. We are targeted because of our faith,” said one distraught Christian leader in Borno State.
Another Christian leader in Bauchi State identified five groups working together against Christians: Boko Haram, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Maitatsine, the Kala Kato and Fulani militants. These jihadists have sophisticated weaponry and even use helicopters to target villages.
The “religious cleansing” element of these killings is considered to be part of Boko Haram’s broader aim to establish an Islamist caliphate in north-eastern Nigeria. In August 2016, the terrorist group declared they would “blow up every church and kill all citizens of the cross”. The carnage has gone largely unchallenged by the Nigerian Federal Government.