HUMAN RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN THE REPUBLIC OF THE FEDERAL REPULIC OF NIGERIA SESSION 28
Agenda Item 4
The Jubilee Campaign seeks to draw the attention of the Council to the persistent and unrelenting religious-based violence occurring in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Attacks have primarily been carried out by Islamic jihadists, namely Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. Christian victims have overwhelmingly suffered from these ongoing attacks.
Jubilee Campaign monitors Boko Haram and Fulani attacks on Nigerian citizens and advocates for national and international prevention and intervention. According to Jubilee Campaign’s calculations, approximately 42% of all the attacks that occurred in the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the year 2014 were on Christian communities, while Muslim communities, the government, schools, media and medical personnel, and random civilians comprised approximately 6.8%, 10.9%, 4.1%, 0.5%, and 35.4% respectively.
Horrifying attacks against Christian communities have accumulated in the past year. On June 4, 2014, Boko Haram insurgents posing as Christian preachers told villagers to gather around to hear them preach before opening fire on the listeners.
A few weeks later in the village of Kwada, just miles from the village of Chibok where about three hundred schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014, gunmen stormed four different churches and shot indiscriminately at worshippers before lighting the churches on fire. At least 30 corpses were recovered from the attack. The surge of attacks by Boko Haram in 2014 has lead to over 700,000 internally displaced as reported by U.N. estimates. The National Emergency Management Agency has reportedly registered 868,253 IDPs by December 2014 who are displaced primarily from the three northern states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe. Other estimates of displaced persons from the northern states are much higher. The UNHCR estimates that 135,000 Nigerians have fled from Boko Haram attacks into Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Violence against Christians is expected to escalate before and after the 2015 presidential elections, which have been rescheduled once already. After the controversial 2011 election, President Goodluck Jonathon’s victory over Muhammadu Buhari sparked sectarian violence in the country’s 13 northern states. Jubilee Campaign compiled a report documenting that over 700 churches and thousands of Christian businesses and homes were burned, while hundreds of Christians were systematically targeted and killed. Similar events are expected to occur this year, with possibly even more violence.
An area of particular concern for Christians in Kaduna state is the southern region of Kaduna state, and residents have asked Jubilee Campaign to bring to the attention of the international community their grave suffering at the hands of Fulani herdsmen. According to a resident of Sanga Local Government Area (LGA), “June 23, 2014, marked the beginning of the worst massacre ever recorded in the history of Sanga.”
On Monday, June 23, through Saturday, June 30, insurgents raided Sanga, ruthlessly shooting and killing villagers. A Pastor recalled one of the killings of a family:
First, Mama Jude, Elisha’s wife, shot at the chest and slashed twice at the back. Her corpse was seen bowed. This motherly posture was what saved her two month old child, Jacob. Jude, her son, tried to run away and was shot outside the door. He was shot at the chest. His sister, Jabbezzeth, was shot in the stomach on the bed. Then Anjah was shot at the stomach and was slashed at the head. Finally Joseph was shot at the stomach. His corpse was seen on the bed. They searched with flash light, and once they saw, they killed. Thus in one sweep a family was laid waste.
During this massacre from June 23-30, 2014, the armed gunmen reported by locals to be Fulani herdsmen murdered over 100 civilians, mostly Christians, in more than a dozen villages in Kaduna’s Sanga Local Government Area (LGA).
According to a Sanga LGA pastor, the attacks were launched when the military were beginning to relax their security patrol in the area. In addition, the youths who organized themselves into a local vigilante group for the security of the community were arrested and taken to Kaduna by the authorities five days before the attacks. The arrest of those youths paved the way for attackers to again invade several communities. Local leaders report that bloody attacks have sporadically continued during the rest of last year.
A pastor who is a Group Representative for Sanga LGA reported that recently suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked four communities in Sanga LGA, killed 50 people, and destroyed 56 houses. Most of those killed in these attacks were women, children, and the aged. A reverend in the community of Karshin Daji and his wife and children were burned to ashes along with their home. The leaders report that sophisticated weapons are being used in the attacks, and they fear ethnic cleansing of the Animist and Christian indigenous communities.
Recommendations To The Human Rights Council:
The international community must aid and encourage the Nigerian government towards taking the following actions:
- Continue the military vetting process that was began and stalled last year, maintaining soldiers who are innocent of human rights abuses. Then Nigeria must work with the United States, European countries, Canada, and others to train their military forces in counterterrorism tactics and supply them with weapons.
- Carry out aggressive pursuit of Boko Haram culprits in northern Nigeria, without impunity.
- Boko Haram Occupied towns and villages in Nigeria must be freed.
- Deploy adequate military protection for vulnerable communities like Sanga LGA to prevent more savage attacks.
- Provide immediate medical attention to affected communities.
- Rescue kidnapped Nigerians.
- Work with neighbors to secure borders and allow the safe return of refugees and internally displaced people.
- Sign and implement an IDP agreement as proposed by the UNHCR.
The international community must encourage the Nigerian government to care for the humanitarian needs of the IDPs and refugees who have fled the violence. The strain on communities within the Middle belt states and neighboring countries to assist this humanitarian crises is immense. The Nigerian government must take responsibility over meeting the humanitarian needs and provide adequate shelter, food, clothing, and education.