Originally published in The Christian Post
The US State Department is headed to Nigeria this week amid the massacre of hundreds of Christians at the hands of various Islamic radical factions. Killings had spiked in October.
The State Department says on it website that the visit will be part of a wider focus on promoting stronger trade and commercial ties between the U.S. and several Africa countries, with the final stop in Abuja.
International Christian Concern noted that in April 2018, President Donald Trump’s administration signed a deal with the Nigerian government for purchasing 12 fighter jets, intended to be used to fight militants and bring an end to the killings of Christians and other civilians.
With the terrorist actions of Boko Haram, and separately other Islamic radicals who are presenting themselves as Fulani herdsmen, continuing in full force, however, ICC said that the Trump administration has “big decisions” to make concerning its strategy with Nigeria.
“Many are hoping that this week the Trump administration would stand up in support of religious freedoms in Nigeria,” the watchdog group said.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, board chair of the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, shared with The Christian Post that October was one of the deadliest months this year, with Islamic extremists killing 260 Christians and 100 Muslims.
“The senseless killings mostly took place in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria particularly in the States of Kaduna (Southern part), Plateau, Adamawa, Benue and Borno (Northeast) and were perpetrated by state actor and non-state actor Jihadists. The killings, perpetrated in the name of ‘Islam,’ are done with reckless abandon despite heavy presence and deployment of soldiers in all the 36 States of Nigeria and the Abuja,” the monitoring group said in its October report.
“The continuation and escalation of the killings mostly targeted at members of the Nigerian Christian Faith are also politically motivated whereby those perpetrating same and their backers in the corridors of power who brazenly aid and abet them are hailed among largely illiterate Muslim population in the North as the ‘true defenders of Allah and Islamic Faith;’ capable of robotically galloping their electoral popularity among the illiterate Muslim population in the north ahead of the country’s presidential poll in February 2019.”
Umeagbalasi previously told CP that the Nigerian government is greatly failing to stop what many are calling a genocide against Christians. Thousands of believers have been killed in 2018, with their homes and villages burned down, while churches have been converted into mosques.
Most of the violence has been carried out by what Umeagbalasi says are Islamic extremists masquerading as Fulani herdsmen, in an effort to fool the international community into believing the clashes are only between herdsmen and farmers over cattle grazing land.
The Nigerian government has claimed throughout the year that it has contained and defeated Boko Haram, the terror group that has been carrying out attacks and deadly raids since 2009. The jihadists were active in October, however, and killed 38 citizens, most of them Christians, during a raid on the Molai Village in Borno State.
The radical group has also been executing humanitarian workers it has captured, including two from The International Committee of the Red Cross. It is still holding 15-year-old Leah Sharibu, the Christian schoolgirl who refused to denounce her faith for her freedom, along with many other women and girls in captivity.