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Violence against Christians surges in Nigeria amidst government crackdown on human rights

by Will Maule

Heavily-armed militants continue to rage across Nigeria's southern state of Kaduna, with ten people killed and 28 abducted between 26th October and 7th November.

According to persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), on 7th November a group of suspected Fulani militants laid siege to the Karji suburb of Kaduna City, abducting five daughters of Pastor Istifanus Tiswan of Christ Embassy Church along with two others.

The day before, John Musa, 45, Habila Ibrahim, 42, Maikudi Wasa, 25, and Samaila Audu, were killed and David Umaru, 27, was injured in an attack on the Kasaya community in the Kunai Ward of Chikun Local Government Area (LGA). 

In addition, on 26th October, Dachomo Alamba, 20, was killed and Irmiya Bitrus, 20, was seriously injured in an attack by armed Fulani militants on the outskirts of Kwakwa village in the Zangon LGA. According to a statement issued by the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) on 30th October, Alamba was the fifth member of the Atyap community be killed by the assailants since Atyap leaders agreed a peace deal in August with long-term Fulani and Hausa residents.

Almost in parallel with the spate of attacks, the Government was deploying military resources to stop alleged looting at a series of warehouses - it is thought that food aid was being stored there for those suffering the effects of Covid-19, though it is unclear why it had not yet been distributed. In addition, the Government has continued its crackdown on the #EndsSARS protesters after initially recognising their right to demonstrate.

According to CSW, three media houses have each been dealt fines by the National Broadcasting Corporation for covering the #EndSARS protests, and a restrictive social media bill is on its way to being passed.

50 individuals, including a pastor, are facing criminal charges for their alleged roles in the demonstrations, which are in response to police brutality across Nigeria.

CSW’s founder president Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW is deeply disturbed by the relentless suffering of civilians in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and elsewhere at the hands of armed non-state actors. We are also concerned at ongoing efforts to stifle freedom of expression, muzzle the press and close civic space that appear to have official sanction.

"Even more concerning are the misplaced priorities of authorities at both state and federal levels who are bent on penalising peaceful protest and punishing civilians who looted Covid-19 palliatives, rather than addressing the critical decline in security.

"We urge the Nigerian authorities to address every source of insecurity as a matter of urgency; to end the harassment of civil society organisations, activists and ordinary members of the public involved in legitimate expressions of dissent, to investigate the hoarding of foodstuffs that should have been distributed to the public, and to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms articulated in the constitution and in international legislation to which Nigeria is party.”

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