The All Party-Parliamentary Group (APPG) in the United Kingdom has demanded a full scale investigation into the mass killings in Nigeria.
It wants the government of the United Kingdom and the international community to probe into the activities of Boko Haram, Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) and the herders/farmers’ conflict, all of which had resulted in serial killings of defenceless civilians in the country.
In a report released in the UK, but unveiled to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, the parliamentary group said the probe should also cover the allegations that these killings had religious undertones and tacit support of the security forces in Nigeria.
The report, titled: ‘Nigeria – Unfolding genocide,’ was dedicated to Leah Sharibu, one of the female students of the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, who was abducted by Boko Haram terrorists on February 19, 2018.
Chair of the APPG, Jim Shannon, observed that even while the global community is battling with widespread and tremendous difficulties as a result of COVID-19, countless Christians living in Nigeria had to face the pandemic alongside the extreme challenges of mass killings which had been on for some years.
He expressed shock that Nigeria, a Commonwealth country, ranks 12th on Open Doors World Watch List 2020 of the countries in which Christians were most persecuted.
By comparison, Shannon said, Syria ranks 11th and Saudi Arabia ranks 13th, with Iraq 15th and Egypt 16th.
“One of the main drivers of this persecution in Nigeria is the militant group, Boko Haram, which frequently abducts and kills those who refuse to conform to their extremist brand of Islam.
“Unfortunately, Boko Haram is not the only threat that Nigerian Christians face. Attacks by armed groups of Islamist Fulani herdsmen have resulted in the killing, maiming, dispossession and eviction of thousands of Christians.
“As parliamentarians, I believe it is our responsibility to speak out on behalf of all the survivors and victims of violence, and all those who are suffering, but who cannot speak out for themselves. One such survivor is Leah Sharibu, whose mother I was honoured to meet on a recent London visit. Two years ago, 14-year-old Leah Sharibu was abducted by Islamist extremists from her school in Dapchi. There are reports that she was enslaved, raped and impregnated, giving birth to a child, and that she has been denied her freedom for refusing to convert to Islam as a pre-condition for her release.
“There are thousands of Leahs held all over Nigeria, and across the world. This report is dedicated to her and the millions of others who suffer so unspeakably. Its purpose is to explore the drivers of conflict and to highlight the seriousness of the situation and the level of injustice that Nigerian Christians face,” he said.
In the near future, Shannon said, the UK would prioritise the correction of the injustices, especially the widespread and growing persecution of Christians in Nigeria.