Nigeria in the Eyes of the World on Freedoms—By Emmanuel Onwubiko

In the heat of the current global campaign and protests against systemic and deeply entrenched racism in the United States of America and other parts of the World which came once again to the limelight with the killing by the White police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota of the 46 year old black man Mr. George Floyd, there was a significant and symbolic event that took place in the White house.

This event with global ramifications which took place was the signing into law of the Executive Order on advancing international religious freedoms by President Donald John Trump

This momentous occasion was drowned unfortunately by the protests over the killing of the black man in the USA and also the inelegant handling of the aftermath of the huge crises that followed by the United States 45th President did not also help matters thereby relegating the important achievement that is embedded in the Executive Order on advancing international religious freedoms by President Donald John Trump.

Although here in Nigeria, we are also confronting the demon of rape and killings of many teenage girls by their rapists all across the Country and the killings of villagers by the armed Islamists and Fulani herdsmen have escalated, the significance of what President Donald John Trump did around June 2nd 2020 in the imposing complex of White House will forever be a source of encouragement.

There is therefore the need to enlighten the people of Nigeria about the existence of this international persuasive tool that can be relied upon to beat back the increasing threats to lives of religious minorities and Christians in the mostly Moslem North West and the terrorism infested North East of Nigeria which has a significant percentage of Christians even though the Moslems are the majority holding political offices of influence in those states with the exception of only a few.

There is little doubt that the spate of killings orchestrated by the armed Islamists and Fulani herdsmen in places such as Benue, Southern Kaduna State, Plateau, Delta, Enugu, Ebonyi are all motivated by the hatred of religious plurality and the fact that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has in the last five years concentrated the strategic security and defence positions in the hands of only Moslem Northerners and therefore relegating millions of Christians to the background.

This act of lawlessness has constituted not only a constitutional threat but a huge national security threat because in the last five years the majority of all those who watch over our national security are all virtually drawn from one tribal grouping and one religious group being the Moslem religion which in itself violates section 14(3) of the Nigerian constitution but this scheming out of Christians in the scheme of things in the defence sector has led to the high rate of violent attacks against Christian communities by armed Fulani herdsmen and in some instances the attackers after destroying these communities occupied by force the farms of these villagers who are forced to flee to cities to live in the internally displaced people’s camps whilst their ancestral lands are occupied by occupying forces aided by armed security forces mostly controlled and commanded by Moslems.

Ironically, the President Muhammadu Buhari  who is Fulani Moslem does not give a damn and is in denial of all these atrocious and murderous killings which he dismissed as mere farmers/ herders crises which is totally incorrect and deceptive.

The following words captures the imminent implosion that may result from the heavily one sided defence team set up by President Muhammadu Buhari:  “Skewed appointments into the offices of the Federal Government favouring some and frustrating others, shall bring ruin and destruction to this nation.”- Col. Abubakar Umar (retd), former military governor of Kaduna State to President Buhari.

It is no secret that in a lot of places in Northern Nigeria, like Katsina, Kano, Zamfara and adjoining States, Christians are not allowed official plots of land by the state governors  to build their places of worship just as young Christian girls are too often forced into conversion and marriages to Moslems.

The worst of these invidious and insidious attacks against Christian communities pale into insignificance when you compare these institutional apartheid policies of some Northern State governments to the physical violence that are now unleashed on Christian communities by armed Fulani herdsmen seeking to displace them from their ancestral homes and the government does nothing.

The Special Adviser to Mr President on Media Femi Adeshina was quoted as asking persons under attack to give up their lands rather than be buried underneath.

That incendiary, callous and insensitive comments made on national television by no other person than the Special Adviser on Media and publicity  to Mr President is to say the least a confirmation that the government is unwilling to take steps to stop these attacks.

Then coupled with the total domination of Moslems controlling all internal security architectures in Nigeria you can then know that  Nigerian Christians need to look towards the United States of America for the implementation of this Executive order on advancing international religious freedoms by President Donald John Trump.

The Bishop of Sokoto Mathew Hassan Kukah who hails from Southern Kaduna State whereby Christian communities have faced torrents of violent attacks by jihadists terrorists has also lost a Seminarian to the dastardly criminal acts of terror attacks and genocide of Christians in Northern Nigeria.

The following was the speech Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah read at the burial of the Seminarian Michael killed by armed Fulani herdsmen recently. Bishop Kukah wrote thus:  “Nigeria needs to pause for a moment and think. No one more than the President of Nigeria, Major General Muhammadu Buhari who was voted in 2015 on the grounds of his own promises to rout Boko Haram and place the country on an even keel. In an address at the prestigious Policy Think Tank, Chatham House in London, just before the elections, Major General Buhari told his audience: “I as a retired General and a former Head of State have always known about our soldiers. They are capable and they are well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty. If I am elected President, the world will have no reason to worry about Nigeria. Nigeria will return to its stabilizing role in West Africa. We will pay sufficient attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service. We will develop adequate and modern arms and ammunition. We will improve intelligence gathering and border patrols to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels. We will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development and promoting infrastructural development…We will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester. And I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front.”

“There is no need to make any further comments on this claim. No one in that hall or anywhere in Nigeria doubted the President who ran his campaign on a tank supposedly full of the fuel of integrity and moral probity. No one could have imagined that in winning the Presidency, General Buhari would bring nepotism and clannishness into the military and the ancillary Security Agencies, that his government would be marked by supremacist and divisive policies that would push our country to the brink. This President has displayed the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing our country’s rich diversity. He has subordinated the larger interests of the country to the hegemonic interests of his co-religionists and clansmen and women. The impression created now is that, to hold a key and strategic position in Nigeria today, it is more important to be a northern Muslim than a Nigerian.

Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah affirmed: “The persecution of Christians in northern Nigeria is as old as the modern Nigerian state. Their experiences and fears of northern, Islamic domination are documented in the Willinks Commission Report way back in 1956. It was also the reason why they formed a political platform called, the Non-Muslim League. All of us must confess in all honesty that in the years that have passed, the northern Muslim elite has not developed a moral basis for adequate power sharing with their Christian co-regionalists. We deny at our own expense. By denying Christians lands for places of worship across most of the northern states, ignoring the systematic destruction of churches all these years, denying Christians adequate recruitment, representation and promotions in the State civil services, denying their indigenous children scholarships, marrying Christian women or converting Christians while threatening Muslim women and prospective converts with death, they make building a harmonious community impossible. Nation building cannot happen without adequate representation and a deliberate effort at creating for all members a sense, a feeling, of belonging, and freedom to make their contributions. This is the window that the killers of Boko Haram have exploited and turned into a door to death. It is why killing Christians and destroying Christianity is seen as one of their key missions.”

From a series of internet sources we were reminded that last year over Christmas, Islamic State Beheaded 11 Nigerian Christians. Shocking news reports with indepth analysis from the BBC on the ideology that is intent on creating a genocide in Nigeria.

Relatedly a parliamentary debate held 18 months ago in Great Britain contained the warnings of systematic persecution and horrific executions, abductions, and an unfolding genocide in Nigeria that have been wantonly ignored.  These terrible executions in Nigeria will be a first test of how the UK’s Foreign Office and Aid programmes will be deployed to provide substance to Boris Johnson’s very welcome commitment to end such barbarism., says a foreign affairs observer in Great Britain.

The BBC and other news outlets have provided shocking news reports with indepth analysis from the ideology that is intent on creating a genocide in Nigeria.

The reporter then asserted that perhaps this will finally wake up officials in the UK’s Foreign Office and in the Department for International Development who insist on saying that Nigeria’s killings are overwhelmingly a result of climate change, loss of grazing land and poverty.

These may all be factors but to ignore the role of  a ferocious ideology is absurd, self-deceiving, wishful thinking.   Climate change didn’t behead these innocent people whose only “crime” was their Christian faith. 

The Prime Minister has rightly said that “In light of mounting evidence that Christians suffer the most widespread persecution… We will use the UK’s global reach and programme funding to improve the lives of persecuted people.”  And that “We will do everything possible to champion these freedoms…. We are determined to use the tools of British diplomacy in this cause, including our permanent seat on the UN Security Council.”

These terrible executions in Nigeria will be the first test of how the UK’s Foreign Office and Aid programmes will be deployed to provide substance to Boris Johnson’s very welcome commitment.

Whilst Great Britain still contemplates what to do to stop the persecutions of Christians in Nigeria,  the United States of America may have come to the rescue of millions of Christians facing extinction under the watch of a President who gave all national defence positions in Nigeria to Moslems and therefore this one sided defence team are looking the other way as armed Fulani herdsmen kill thousands of Christians and not one killer is behind bars in the last five years. Below are the contents of the Executive order.

President Donald John Trump said the Executive order on advancing international religious freedoms was done by the authority vested in him as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy. (a)  Religious freedom, America’s first freedom, is a moral and national security imperative.  Religious freedom for all people worldwide is a foreign policy priority of the United States, and the United States will respect and vigorously promote this freedom.  As stated in the 2017 National Security Strategy, our Founders understood religious freedom not as a creation of the state, but as a gift of God to every person and a right that is fundamental for the flourishing of our society.

(b)  Religious communities and organizations, and other institutions of civil society, are vital partners in United States Government efforts to advance religious freedom around the world.  It is the policy of the United States to engage robustly and continually with civil society organizations — including those in foreign countries — to inform United States Government policies, programs, and activities related to international religious freedom.

Sec. 2.  Prioritization of International Religious Freedom.  Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State (Secretary) shall, in consultation with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), develop a plan to prioritize international religious freedom in the planning and implementation of United States foreign policy and in the foreign assistance programs of the Department of State and USAID.

Sec. 3.  Foreign Assistance Funding for International Religious Freedom.  (a) The Secretary shall, in consultation with the Administrator of USAID, budget at least $50 million per fiscal year for programs that advance international religious freedom, to the extent feasible and permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations.  Such programs shall include those intended to anticipate, prevent, and respond to attacks against individuals and groups on the basis of their religion, including programs designed to help ensure that such groups can persevere as distinct communities; to promote accountability for the perpetrators of such attacks; to ensure equal rights and legal protections for individuals and groups regardless of belief; to improve the safety and security of houses of worship and public spaces for all faiths; and to protect and preserve the cultural heritages of religious communities.

(b)  Executive departments and agencies (agencies) that fund foreign assistance programs shall ensure that faith-based and religious entities, including eligible entities in foreign countries, are not discriminated against on the basis of religious identity or religious belief when competing for Federal funding, to the extent permitted by law.

Sec. 4.  Integrating International Religious Freedom into United States Diplomacy.  (a) The Secretary shall direct Chiefs of Mission in countries of particular concern, countries on the Special Watch List, countries in which there are entities of particular concern, and any other countries that have engaged in or tolerated violations of religious freedom as noted in the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom required by section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-292), as amended (the “Act”), to develop comprehensive action plans to inform and support the efforts of the United States to advance international religious freedom and to encourage the host governments to make progress in eliminating violations of religious freedom.

(b)  In meetings with their counterparts in foreign governments, the heads of agencies shall, when appropriate and in coordination with the Secretary, raise concerns about international religious freedom and cases that involve individuals imprisoned because of their religion.

(c)  The Secretary shall advocate for United States international religious freedom policy in both bilateral and multilateral fora, when appropriate, and shall direct the Administrator of USAID to do the same.

Sec. 5.  Training for Federal Officials.  (a) The Secretary shall require all Department of State civil service employees in the Foreign Affairs Series to undertake training modelled on the international religious freedom training described in section 708(a) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-465), as amended by section 103(a)(1) of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (Public Law 114-281).

(b)  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the heads of all agencies that assign personnel to positions overseas shall submit plans to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, detailing how their agencies will incorporate the type of training described in subsection (a) of this section into the training required before the start of overseas assignments for all personnel who are to be stationed abroad, or who will deploy and remain abroad, in one location for 30 days or more.

(c)  All Federal employees subject to these requirements shall be required to complete international religious freedom training not less frequently than once every 3 years.

Sec. 6.  Economic Tools.  (a) The Secretary and the Secretary of the Treasury shall, in consultation with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and through the process described in National Security Presidential Memorandum-4 of April 4, 2017 (Organization of the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and Subcommittees), develop recommendations to prioritize the appropriate use of economic tools to advance international religious freedom in countries of particular concern, countries on the Special Watch List, countries in which there are entities of particular concern, and any other countries that have engaged in or tolerated violations of religious freedom as noted in the report required by section 102(b) of the Act. 

These economic tools may include, as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law, increasing religious freedom programming, realigning foreign assistance to better reflect country circumstances, or restricting the issuance of visas under section 604(a) of the Act.

(b)  The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may consider imposing sanctions under Executive Order 13818 of December 20, 2017 (Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption), which, among other things, implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Public Law 114-328).

Sec. 7.  Definitions.  For purposes of this order:

(a)  “Country of particular concern” is defined as provided in section 402(b)(1)(A) of the Act;

(b)  “Entity of particular concern” is defined as provided in section 301 of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (Public Law 114-281);

(c)  “Special Watch List” is defined as provided in sections 3(15) and 402(b)(1)(A)(iii) of the Act; and

(d)  “Violations of religious freedom” is defined as provided in section 3(16) of the Act.

Sec. 8.  General Provisions.  (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) hereby charges Christian leaders and stakeholders to compile and document evidences of these mass killings of Christians so these data are sent to the President of the United States of America and the Congress of the United States of America for their immediate actions to ensure that the hundreds of killers who are walking the Nigerian streets freely are arrested, prosecuted and punished for these crimes against humanity 


Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and blogs@www.huriwanigeria.com; www.emmanuelonwubikocom; www.thenigerianinsidernews.com; www.huriwa@blogpot.com

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