An organ of the United States government, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has warned that killings in Nigeria have assumed a worrisome trend and need urgent solutions.
USCIRF lamented that there is a growing deterioration of religious freedom amidst killings by criminal elements in Nigeria which is leaving citizens and residents constantly agitated.
It added that a special envoy might have to be sent to engage the current administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari on ways to curb the growing insecurity particularly in the northern region of the country.
Speaking on Wednesday during a virtual hearing on the escalation of violence in Nigeria and the potential danger, USCIRF said the inaction and silence of the government can no longer be tolerated.
“Among the complex web of armed actors and motivations, extremists in various parts of the country target individuals and communities based on their religious identity. Christian and Muslim communities fear for their lives, risking death, mutilation and abduction when they worship in public and celebrate significant religious ceremonies.
“Amidst this shocking scale of violence, government’s inaction is pervasive. Impunity for extremists, who target religious communities and houses of worship, is systemic across much of the country. The Federal Government’s approach has failed to curb the violence and protect its citizens’ rights to freedom of religion or belief. As a body, we will encourage the U.S. government to support Nigeria in addressing impunity for extremist violence,” Anurima Bhargava, USCIRF chair, stated.
Other panelists at the virtual hearing included U.S. ex-Representative member, Frank Wolf; Vice President, Global Affairs and Partnerships, Search for Common Ground, Mike Jobbins; founder, Choice for Peace, Gender, and Development, Hafsat Maina Muhammed; Catholic Priest; Head of Department, Religious Studies, Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State, Anthony Bature; and analyst in African Affairs, Congressional Research Service, Tomás Husted.
The panelists expressed worry that the international community seems to have turned a blind eye to the growing insecurity in Nigeria, noting that action would have been taken if it was a western country going through Nigeria’s current experience in terms of insecurity.
Wolf said: “Nigeria is failing and there is little attention by the West to the crisis. History is repeating itself as it happened in Rwanda. If what is happening in Nigeria is happening in the West, the world would have been enraged but there is silence and inaction, which could prove fatal to the West Africa region and rest of the world.”