Christian Solidarity International (CSI) is calling on Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, to protect victims of atrocity crimes and human rights defenders at a time of rising violence against Christians in the country’s Middle Belt region.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
In his letter dated September 23, Dr. John Eibner, the International President of Christian Solidarity International, referred President Buhari to the cases of Mr. Masara Kim, a journalist in Plateau State, and Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and a prominent figure in his native Kaduna State.
Mr. Kim was summoned for interrogation by the Department of State Services on 21 September after publishing an article about the plans of Fulani militia leaders for further attacks on Christian farming communities in the region. Dr. Mailafia has been summoned for interrogation four times and received numerous credible death threats, since a radio interview he gave on 10 August, in which he exposed the political project behind the campaign of Fulani attacks in the Middle Belt. Out of fear for his life, he has been forced to take extraordinary security measures to protect himself and his family.
Eibner also drew the Nigerian president’s attention to the shooting and hacking to death two days ago of Paramount Chief Da Bulus Chuwang Gyang by unidentified assassins. The Chief was renowned for leading his community’s resistance to the atrocity crimes exposed by Dr. Mailafia and Mr. Kim.
“It is clear, Mr. President,” Eibner wrote, “that certain elements in the security services are intent on suppressing human rights defenders who speak the truth about the crisis in the Middle Belt, and discouraging others from coming forward and speaking out.”
Dr. Eibner praised the fundamental freedoms contained in the Nigerian Constitution, stating they are “the best guarantees for social harmony in a country as complexly multi-religious and multi-ethnic as Nigeria – an aspiration that CSI shares with the wonderful people of Nigeria regardless of their religious and ethnic identities.”
Dr. Eibner referred in his letter to CSI’s ” Genocide Warning” for Nigeria, to the recent report ” Nigeria: Genocide Unfolding?” by the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief; and to the International Criminal Court’s current investigation of crimes against humanity in Nigeria, including those that may have been committed by both state and non-state actors.
This month, President Buhari himself revealed that US President Donald Trump directly accused him in April 2018 of “killing Christians”. Buhari defended himself by referring to the sectarian-based murders as merely the product of local herder versus farmer disputes.
In conclusion Eibner expressed the hope that the “Nigerian Presidency will use its authority to protect the fundamental rights of human rights defenders and civil society actors in the Middle Belt, in particular Dr. Obadiah Mailafia and Mr. Masara Kim”.