A new report on the persecution of Christians in Nigeria has found that about 1,000 adherents of the Christian faith have been killed by Islamic militants in 2019 alone.
The Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), headed by a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Cox, discovered that believers in the North and Central region of Nigeria were the most severely affected.
The group said the constant attack of “harmless” persons, especially worshipers and clerics portends danger for Christianity as it has ignited fears in clerics deployed to the northeast to work.
In its end of the year report, the group recounted the killing in August of Reverend Father David Tanko and many others in the northern part of the country, adding that over 1000 Christians have been killed in 2019
Recently, they explained that suspected terrorists had threatened to attack other clerics, including a missionary sister identified as Sister Chioma Ibe after the killing of Fr Pius Ani.
Fr Pius Ani and Sr Chioma Ibe, it was learnt, were two Catholic missionaries whose work in the northern part of Nigeria had drawn a lot of accolades and admiration but had also exposed them to the Boko Haram terrorist group
The killed priest was a pastor of St Theresa Catholic Church in Maiduguri, Borno State, working with Sr Chioma Ibe, who is the principal of the parish school.
Both the priest and the nun were said to be working with youths by converting the youths and adults of that town to the Catholic faith. The parish school is open to both Christians and Muslims.
It was learnt that with their teachings many were converted to Catholicism and embracing the Christian doctrine, with no fewer than 50 students administered with the sacrament of baptism and welcomed into the Catholic Church and receiving the first communion
According to reports, the popularity of these missionaries has spread widely to the predominantly Muslim state, exposing them to the threat of the Islamic fundamentalist group who have made several unsuccessful attempts to kill both missionaries.
This led to the priest and nun being transferred out from the northern part to another church in the south where they both continued their good work of ministering in the church and also managing the parish school.
According to the reports: “Islamist Fulani militia continue to engage in an aggressive and strategic land grabbing policy in Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Southern Kaduna and parts of Bauchi state.
“They attack rural villages, force villagers off their lands and settle in their place — a strategy that is epitomized by the phrase: «your land or your blood.”
According to HART, the exact number of Christians killed by Islamic militants Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen was unknown, though the data suggests the figure to be sitting at around 1,000 for the year. The organization believes that some 6,000 have been killed since 2015, and with an additional 12,000 displaced.
“In every village, the message from local people is the same: ‘Please, please help us! The Fulani are coming. We are not safe in our own homes,” HART said in the report.
– (Sunday Sun)