1. Aid for the Church in Need Webinar

On 29 September 2021 Aid for the Church in Need (ACN) hosted a webinar during which the combined report of the four Catholic Dioceses in Benue State and the DHPI report on Anambra were released.  The event was covered on Vatican Radio – click on link for podcast: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/podcast/english-for-africa/2021/10/english-africa-04-10-2021.html With Johan Viljoen, Nigeria report. It was also covered in the Catholic Press – https://www.aciafrica.org/news/4402/catholic-church-entity-decries-nigerian-presidents-silence-on-killings-of-christians

https://www.catholicsun.org/2021/09/30/conflicts-between-farmers-herders-in-nigeria-frustrate-catholic-leaders/

https://rr.sapo.pt/noticia/religiao/2021/09/30/nigeria-igreja-acusa-estado-de-promover-lento-genocidio-dos-cristaos/255193/ . See below the press statement issued by ACN:


Church decries “slow genocide” of Christians in Nigeria

The Catholic Church in Nigeria claims that the Christians in that country are the victims of a process of ethnic cleansing at the hands of Fulani Muslims, with the complicity of the state.

By ACN International, 1st October 2021

During a webinar hosted by Aid to the Church in Need International (ACN) respective speakers, among them one bishop and several priests from Nigeria, confirmed that the violence that has been plaguing the country for the past several years is not simply due to “clashes” between Muslim herdsmen and Christian farmers, over land.

“It is not just about issues of grazing. For me, this is a religious war”, stated Bishop Wilfred Anagbe, of the diocese of Makurdi in Benue state.

“They have an agenda, which is the Islamization of this country. And they are doing that by carefully eliminating all the Christians and occupying the territories. If it was about grazing, why kill people? And why burn their homes?”, he asked.

Johan Viljoen, director of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute of South Africa currently researching on the Fulani armed militia attacks in Southeast Nigeria speaks of a “concerted, well-planned occupation. This is all happening under the cover of Miyetti Allah, of which President Buhari is the patron”, he said, referring to an organisation which claims to defend the rights of Fulani herdsmen.

High-level state involvement is one reason why the armed forces have proven unwilling to step in and control the violence. “I don’t think the army is trying to solve anything. If anything, they would try to promote it”, explained Mr. Viljoen, recalling a recent fact-finding mission to Nigeria during which his colleagues were stopped every five kilometres by soldiers, all Fulani, acting in a threatening manner and pointing guns. Mr. Viljoen observed that despite years of violence “not a single Fulani has been prosecuted for the violence”.

Bishop Wilfred stressed that the armed forces lie under the direct control of the President and, furthermore, “all the service chiefs, from the navy, army, air force and police are Muslims”.

Official figures point to around 3,000 dead from the wave of violence over the past few years, but those on the ground say that the number could be as high as 36,000, with many more displaced, destitute, or deeply traumatized by their experiences. With many NGOs leaving the danger zones, the Catholic Church and its institutions, with which ACN International works closely, are the only reliable alternatives to get aid to the people on the ground.

Church representatives ask those who are in the West to help with the provision of relief, but also through other channels. “We have to take the narrative away from the government of Nigeria”, said Fr. Remigius Ihyula, also from the diocese of Makurdi. “They have planted protégés in embassies all over the world, so that the narrative makes it seem like there is nothing happening”, he explained during the ACN hosted webinar.

Fr. Joseph Fidelis, from the diocese of Maiduguri, expressed frustration when he hears people refer to “clashes” or “conflicts” between opposing groups. “It is not a clash, it is a slow genocide. To displace people from their ancestral homeland, deprive them of their livelihood and butcher them is a form of genocide”.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. There are no official figures, but estimates point to an even split between Muslims and Christians, with the former dominating in the north and the latter in the south. The violence has now spread throughout the country, threatening stability nationwide.

**END**

  • Marcela Szymanski
  • Editor-in-Chief, report “Religious Freedom in the World”
  • Head of the EU office, ACN International Public Affairs
  • Aid to the Church in Need
  • +32 472 705 300
  • Square de Meeûs 19,
  • 1050 Brussels, Belgium

See below the latest update on violent incidents:

https://punchng.com/fear-spreads-in-south-east-as-hoodlums-murder-akunyilis-husband-eight-others/

30 September 2021 – Dr Chike Akunyili was attacked and murdered in his car after the killers spotted the police security and believed he was a politician. Witnesses confirm the killers shouted “No election in Anambra in November” once they killed Dr Akunyili in Afor Nkpor, Idemili LGA, Anambra state. Police confirmed the death of Dr Akunyili, his driver, police security and six others; some of which were headless and are yet to be identified. IPOB has proceeded to dissociate themselves from Dr Akunyili’s murder and any other political assassinations occurring in Biafra land, claiming that “cruel politicians are hiding under the cloak of the situation” and attempting to place the blame on IPOB. Similarly, the Department of State Services (DSS) has denied any involvement in the murders and stated that they would collaborate with additional security agencies to bring justice to the situation. Governor Willie Obiano has placed a bounty of N20m on the murderers of Dr Akunyili and the other innocent citizens. Anaocha LGA, Anambra state the Agulu community have announced a ‘3-day mourning period’ from 29 September 2021, over the recent killings.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5wRQ3v-Fto&ab_channel=TVCNewsNigeria

30 September 2021- This video shows the aftermath of an attack on Anambra’s Lawmakers convoy, leaving the driver of Hon. Chris Azubogu was shot dead in his car in the middle of the road. Civilians are running and hiding as they are not sure when another attack will occur. Later, the Ajali police station was set on fire.

https://www.operanewsapp.com/ng/en/share/detail?news_id=af362fd58cd6890872da4d47d5f31dc8&news_entry_id=s640d25a1210930en_ng&open_type=transcoded&from=mini&request_id=share_request

1 October 2021 – The Ajali police station located in Anambra state was attacked by gunmen, where they confined the officers inside and set the building ablaze. The video shows citizens attempting to break open a wall to allow the police officials to escape. See pictures below:

https://www.operanewsapp.com/ng/en/share/detail?news_id=0097d6e153b39007bcda159dff94741a&news_entry_id=25368b35210929en_ng&open_type=transcoded&from=mini&request_id=share_request

1 October 2021 – A image of a Hausa man who was beheaded in the streets of Eke Nkpor was released after unknown gunmen decapitated him and left a note reading “no election in Anambra state, the return of unknown gunmen”.

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2021/10/insecurity-stop-the-killings-pope-francis-tells-buhari/

1 October 2021 – Pope Francis, Catholic Pontiff, has requested President Mohammed Buhari to explore ways to stop the senseless massacres occurring in Nigeria.

https://www.tori.ng/news/182230/horror-unknown-gunmen-set-imo-monarchs-palace-abla.html

1 October 2021 – Around 4 pm, the traditional ruler of Obor Autonomous Community, HRH Eze Obi Ralph Ekezie’s palace was torched in Orlu LGA, Imo State. This arson attack caused severe damage to the monarchs land and 2 buildings around the community. Individuals of the community came together to put the fire out. The monarch believes the attack was done by his “enemies of progress in his community”.

http://saharareporters.com/2021/10/01/update-police-arrest-brutalise-angry-nigerians-protesting-against-buhari-regime-abuja

1 October 2021 – Nigerian youth held protests from 7 am against the anti-people policies of President Buhari’s regime, and they called for transparency, an end to the insecurity, and good governance outside the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road, in Abuja. These protests overlapped with the 61st Anniversary for Independence in Nigeria, and the youth proceeded to block the roads with bonfires, forcing motorists to make use of alternative routes. These protests were aggressively dispersed and many young Nigerians were severely beaten and chased into the bushes by the anti-riot police, who were directed by ASP Altine Daniel, a notorious female police official. Five people were arrested including, Danjuma Patience, Benjamin Mannaseh, Ibraheem, and Mohammed Labaran; who were taken to Galadimawa police station and their current whereabouts are unknown. The protesters condemned the growing insecurity and escalating food prices, and called for President Buhari’s resignation and detachment of armed police officials.

https://dailypost.ng/2021/10/01/esn-ipob-identifies-agents-uzodinma-allegedly-uses-to-perpetrate-killings-in-imo-southeast/?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter&amp=1

1 October 2021 – Emma Powerful, IPOB’s spokesman, released a statement alleging that with accomplices, Hope Uzodinma, the Governor of Imo State has created a fabricated Eastern Security Network to eliminate his southeast political opponents. IPOB revealed through their intelligence unit ‘the M. Branch’, the identities of the individuals who allegedly are behind the attacks in Anambra, Imo and the general southeast of Nigeria. IPOB called out a former Imo State APGA aspirant, Ekene Anaduele (also known as Stainless), Deputy Chairman Orsu, Emman Uguru, C.O.C Akaolisa Attorney General. Similarly, the one in charge of recruiting is known as Ikenna Ezubeozor the Chairman of Awo Idemili Town Union, the youth leader is Amaokwe Chukwuka, the frontline is Nwadi Ikeh, and the head of community policing is Obinna Izunobi Edeukwu. IPOB ensures they are not responsible for the heinous crimes that have been committed and state that these people are responsible for attempting to make IPOB appear as becoming increasingly violent.

https://web.facebook.com/100006001179061/posts/1657110627832294/?sfnsn=mo&_rdc=1&_rdr

3 October 2021 – The video shows the OPC and Shagamu youths storming the gunmen’s camps located in Lufape Village, Shagamu interchange, Lagos Ibadan Express Way. This was a successful venture as the video shows all the weapons found and bandits who were arrested.

https://web.facebook.com/149774505203876/posts/2071330639714910/?flite=scwspnss&_rdc=1&_rdr

3 October 2021 – Nwafo Imo (also known as Ariri) was walking home through a police checkpoint in Ubuluisiuzo, Orlu road in Anambra state and was killed by a police official, even though he did not present himself as a threat. According to eyewitnesses, soldiers are killing and intimidating innocent civilians at an extremely high rate, without having a cause. As seen, they threaten to kill all the business owners and destroy their businesses. There are videos and images with evidence of police brutality and intimidation attached.

https://punchng.com/tension-rises-in-south-east-military-begins-operation-against-killings-others/

5 October 2021 – After IPOB suspended their ‘sit-at-home order, a group of hoodlums paraded around Enugu state capital in a Hilux van, attempting to enforce the order. Many residents abided by this order as they were scared to be attacked if they disobeyed, as a tricycle was set on fire to frighten the residents. Thus, this affected the social and business activities in Enugu state.

Additionally, in Owerri, Imo state there was news of gunmen attack going around the community, which caused absolute panic. As seen, banks, eateries, schools, and markets closed immediately; vehicles reversed that was in transit and passengers departed from public transport. According to parents, bandits threaten to attack schools and kidnap the pupils, making it a high risk for parents to send their children to school. Col Abdukarim Usman assisted in launching “Exercise Golden Dawn”, which consists of 302 Artillery Regiment General Support, to provide security to Anambra state and the Southeast, Nigeria.

No Link:

5 October 2021 – Osita Nwokosisi, the second commander for ESN, put out a statement to all Ndigbo that the ESN are not the “unknown gunmen” conducting all the heinous crimes. ESN states that they have no ties to the killing of Army officials or police, the Awkuzu murders, any shootings in Ozubulu, they would never point a gun at an Igbo, nor cut the throats of children and women in any ethnic group. ESN declare that they are not criminals nor barbaric animals committing these crimes. After disassociating themselves from the current killings and carnage, ESN calls out the Federal Government for sponsoring the armed Fulani militia and Al Shabaab from Mogadishu. ESN says that’s the intention is to overrun the Igbo nation and cause disorder in the South East (especially Anambra state). The government have placed Fulani’s in security outfits to carry out the violent Jihadist agenda, this being three steps including:

  1. Disarm victims.
  2. Destroy their security network and instil fear in victims.
  3. Attack when police or security is porous.

 

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