Skip navigation

Parliament debates persecution - and a new International Religious Freedom Alliance

“In the wake of recent news that 30 more innocent people were massacred by Boko Haram in Borno State, we reconfirm our desire to work for the freedom of all Nigerian Christians to practise their faith without intimidation, violence and discrimination. We are also calling on the government to step up it’s efforts to stop the killings and abductions of all its citizens. “To this extent we are pressurising the British, French and American Governments to act swiftly and stop the persecutions taking place within the current government’s administration. We welcome the recent debate in the UK Parliament, the highlights of which you can read below. During the debate, various prominent MPs spoke of the need to leverage the UK’s influence in Nigeria to defend Christians under attack. “PSJ UK urges President Buhari to go beyond ‘mere words’ and begin the actual service of robustly protecting all citizens. The longer he ignores vulnerable Christians in the sharia states of the North East, the more innocent lives such as those in Borno will be lost in the harshest ways imaginable. With this tragic loss of life, will come a loss of reputation both for the Buhari government and Nigeria as a whole. “We commend our British allies for doing everything they can to stop the silent slaughter of Nigerian Christians. By beginning to threaten sanctions (against individuals or the Government as a whole), withdrawing Commonwealth status and making foreign aid conditional on defending subjugated Christians, British MPs are leading the discussion we urgently need.” Highlights from UK Parliament debate on Persecution of Christians (Thursday 6 February 2020) Sir Edward Leigh Warnings have been given by organisations such as PSJ, the Organisation for Peace and Social Justice. That organisation, which campaigns in Europe and the United States and is supported by many leading Nigerians, urges President Buhari to change course and raise his game. Its work is striking a chord with millions on the ground in Nigeria today. So many Nigerians have had their churches, homes, farms and even families taken from them in the harshest way imaginable. I commend the work of PSJ and other organisations, and hope that it can mark the beginning of a new era in Nigerian politics. An ineffectual Government led by President Buhari have shown little sign of stopping the silent slaughter of the innocent. He has repeatedly paid lip service to possible solutions, but has failed to deliver on any of those vague promises. There are also geopolitical consequences. The President appears exceptionally relaxed about the fact that his border with Chad is porous and undefended, and, as such, it has become a transport hub for Islamist weaponry, intelligence and recruits. Our long-standing connection and friendship with Nigeria means that we are well placed to do something about the unravelling situation. Whatever we do—if we save just one life—it is worth doing. At the same time we can respect national sovereignty, which, of course, we always do. Britain is one of the biggest donors of foreign aid to Nigeria: we give it £300 million each year. Is it not about time that we started to review the conditions attached to that aid, as our partners in America and Europe have been doing so in other contexts? One prominent example was in 2017, when the United States withheld nearly $96 million in foreign aid to Egypt and refused to commit itself to a further $195 million as a penalty for the country’s abysmal human rights record. More recently, the US Government have proposed basing the apportionment of foreign aid on the way in which countries treat their religious minorities—all religious minorities. The scheme would involve designating a ranking system under which foreign aid handouts could be reviewed depending on the severity of the situation in each country. At this moment, the European Union is also preparing a human rights sanctions regime, which would allow the bloc to target specific individuals in breach of good practice. That regime could be readily applied to many in the Nigerian Government. We might also consider using such mechanisms to hold Nigeria to account. Adopting that approach would place its Government under pressure to improve. The argument that Buhari needs British handouts to solve 

Continue Reading

Read More

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.