Pompeo Tackles FG, Says 1,500 Christians Killed in 2021

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The immediate past United States Secretary of State, Mr. Mike Pompeo, has said that no fewer than 1,500 Christians have been killed in Nigeria since the beginning of 2021, while others are being held, hostage.

Pompeo, who is also a former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, (CIA), in an article titled, ‘The Persecution of Christians in Nigeria Demands Our Attention,’ which was published by the American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ) on Wednesday, accused the federal government of not doing enough to protect religious freedom.

He said the Nigerian government had downplayed the attacks on Christians, by characterizing them as conflicts between herders and farmers rather than as religiously motivated acts of terror.

“At least 1,500 Christians have already been killed in Nigeria during 2021, and even more, have been kidnapped and are either being held hostage or trafficked. The attacks are brutal. Armed radical Islamic groups arrive in a village during the night, kill the men, rape, and murder the women, and kidnap the children. The Nigerian government thus far has sought to downplay the attacks, characterizing them as conflicts between herders and farmers rather than as religiously motivated acts of terror,” he said.

He urged the federal government to hold terrorists accountable for such characterizations.
He stated that since “Nigeria has the largest Christian population of any African country – over 80 million, nearly half of its people – it is essential that this persecution is snuffed out before it becomes even worse.”
According to him, every single day in Nigeria, Christians are not allowed their right to religious freedom and are being murdered because of their faith in Jesus.

He said no society that denied its people the right to worship according to their beliefs, or that allowed that right to come under attack without consequence could claim to be truly good.

Pompeo said: “Where religious freedom is denied or ignored, you can be sure that tyranny and oppression are soon to follow. That is why a foreign policy that takes seriously the issue of ensuring religious freedom around the world is critical to serving America’s interests. It is why the ongoing persecution and martyrdom of Christians in Nigeria demands our attention and action.”

He said in 2018, 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, and when a deal was sealed to free most of the girls, only one was held back, Leah Sharibu.

“This unbelievably brave and faithful girl refused to renounce her faith as a Christian; and for that reason, Boko Haram refused to release her and condemned her to slavery. Three years later, she is still being held as a slave by this cowardly terrorist cell in North-east Nigeria,” he said.

Pompeo described Sharibu’s story as tragic, infuriating, and emblematic of a troubling trend of Christian persecution in Nigeria.
Citing Open Doors’ Country Report, Pompeo said more Christians were murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country in the world.

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According to him, the number of Christians murdered in Nigeria increased by 60 per cent in 2020.
He said he had personally met with Christian Nigerian leaders and heard their tragic stories of those who had been persecuted because of their faith.

Pompeo stated that during the Trump administration took the important first steps toward dealing with this serious issue in December 2020, when it added Nigeria to the State Department’s “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) list.

He said the work done by the ACLJ was informative for the State Department when it began to evaluate whether or not to designate Nigeria as a CPC.

He said the team at the State Department recognised that the “Nigerian government was tolerating the systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of the religious freedom of its people, allowing them to suffer at the hands of radical Islamic terror.”

Pompeo said the designation signaled to the Nigerian government that swift action on their part was needed to end the persecution, or there would be further consequences in the form of sanctions and increased diplomatic pressure.

According to him, such a designation was part of the broader Trump administration’s approach to take seriously violations of religious freedom around the world, which also included declaring the brutal policies of the Chinese Communist Party toward Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang as genocidal.
“Unfortunately, the tragedy in Nigeria persists,” he added.

Pompeo said the ACLJ was actively engaged in the effort to raise awareness of and demand action regarding the ongoing atrocities committed against Christians in Nigeria.
The ACLJ, according to him, has filed its 18th written submission and made critical oral interventions at the UN Human Rights Council regarding the plight of Christians in Nigeria.

He said: “I’m eager to engage in this work with them as we seek to put a stop to these ongoing tragedies. What is happening to Christians in Nigeria warrants serious action. America has always stood as a beacon for freedom, and we can only back up that responsibility if we take seriously our obligation to stand up for the rights of religious believers around the world. American civil society and the American government need to hold the Nigerian government accountable for its inaction in allowing terrorist organisations like Boko Haram to fester in their nation.

“If the problem is allowed to persist, it will only spread and become worse throughout Africa and around the world. The killing must end.”

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