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World News

Priest accuses Nigerian government of failing to protect Christians from 'daily slaughter'

by Heather Preston

A local priest has questioned the inaction of Nigeria's president as he shares the distressing state of life for many forced to flee extremist-held villages.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency over three million people have been forced to flee their homes in Nigeria, as a result of insurgency and conflict by jihadist group Boko Haram.

Numerous persecution charities have warned of the extreme and brutal violence Christians face at the hand of Islamic militants and extremist groups, particularly in the north of the country.

A recent report from Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need found that more Christians are killed in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world.

Father Remigius Ihyula, who heads Makurdi Diocese’s Foundation for Justice, Development and Peace in Benue State has raised concerns that the country's national government is doing nothing to support the "thousands daily" being forced from their homes by Fulani extremists.

“Our present leadership, it seems, neglects their plight, because these people don’t speak their language or worship like they do.

“It’s as if they are lesser human beings and so whatever happens to them is none of their concern," he told ACN.

Father Ihyula has called on President Buhari to show his support for those who are suffering: “Show me any place on Earth where people are displaced in their thousands and their government or president doesn’t visit.

“Our people are butchered and slaughtered daily, and our president does not come to see them.”

ACN has reported attacks on 93 villages in the predominantly Christian Benue State in 2022, resulting in the deaths of 325 farmers.

Father Ihyula oversees local church projects to support those in need. He highlighted that the state, which has been the epicentre of the violence, is called the “food basket of Nigeria” and the attacks were leading to widespread poverty.

“They are not only destroying crops and killing people, especially male children, but also occupying the land so that people cannot return to their farming communities, which has caused hunger and hardship.

“Some camp residents have suffered multiple displacements. Others have seen their loved ones slaughtered, shot at and butchered like animals.

“If not for the Christian Faith, I am sure that many people would have taken up arms to go back and fight.”

He fears those who spoke out against the governments inaction risk becoming a "target".

“For them, I am the problem – not the president who has failed to do his duties, who has failed to protect his citizens, but me, for speaking the truth.

“In Nigeria, when people say injustice should be addressed, they become a target. I am a Catholic priest.

“The president has heard and seen a lot of news about Benue State, can he come here for once and see what is happening? Do our people deserve to be punished like this?

“We only pray that God gives us leaders who will not be biased and help those driven from their villages to go back and continue their lives.”


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