- Fingers three groups as culprits
The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) says it has concluded investigation into the killing of Christians in Nigeria, identifying three major groups responsible for the mass killings.
The rights group also condemned the level of intolerance and attacks against traditional religions in the Southeast of the country.
In a statement issued on Sunday in Onitsha, signed by its Board Chair, Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Igboeli, Intersociety expressed the view that an estimated 30 million Christians in Northern Nigeria who form the largest minority in a predominantly Muslim environment have for decades, suffered marginalisation and discrimination as well as targeted violence especially in the hands of organised mob and violent groups.
“These killings,” the group said, “particularly, the ones that took place in December 2017 and January 2018 in states of Benue, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa and Southern Kaduna prompted a national investigation by our organisation.
“In the course of our investigation, various reports on the killing of Christians in Northern Nigeria issued by reputable local and int’l groups including those perpetrated by Boko Haram between 2009 and 2014 were considered.”
According to the group, the investigation identified three bodies responsible for killing of defenseless and unprotected Christian population in Nigeria or any part thereof. “They are Fulani Herdsmen, Boko Haram and the central Government of Nigeria through its security forces particularly the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigeria Police Force.”
It stressed that killings by the Police are custodial deaths arising from racial profiling and unprofessional crime detection and criminal investigation management.
Intersociety further disclosed that strong pieces of evidence also indicate that “Christians in Nigeria particularly in the Southeast are highly intolerant of alternative religions in the zone particularly, members and institutions of traditional religions.”
It condemned in strong terms, all forms of Christian violence against traditional religionists and their sacred places of worship and symbols.
“Fanatical Christians are found to be visiting unprovoked violence or attacks on traditional religionists and their sacred places of worship, using midnight crusades and radical preachers to destroy their sacred places of worship, religious symbols and artifacts.”
The group cited the violation of Section 10 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution which forbids the Federal Government or any State Government from adopting any religion as a state religion; and Section 38 of the same Constitution which affirms the fundamental human right to freedom of religion and worship in Nigeria or any part thereof.
Intersociety assured that in the coming days, the findings of its investigation into killing of Christians and destruction of their churches or sacred places of worship, particularly in Northern Nigeria shall officially be communicated to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for urgent and holistic attention or actions.
It also said that failure of Mr. President to act or holistically redress “the national tragedy shall be seen not only as a fundamental breach of the Constitution but also a serious breach of the Principle of Complementarity under the int’l law; by failing in its jurisdiction and the primary obligation to investigate, punish, and prevent genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes under int’l law including ICC Statute.
“In the eyes of local and int’l laws, it will also amount to official cementation, aiding and abetting of killing of Christians in Nigeria through a national policy of ‘Cattletocracy’ or State aided Agro-Jihadist widespread violence against Christian population particularly in Northern Nigeria.”