The immediate past United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused the Nigerian government of downplaying the killings of Christians in the West African country, describing them as conflicts between herders and farmers rather than as religiously motivated acts of terror.
According to the former US Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, at least 1,500 Christians have been killed in Nigeria in the last six months.
Pompeo, who served as Secretary of State under ex-President Donald Trump, stated this in an article which was published by the American Centre for Law and Justice on Wednesday.
In the article, Pompeo said the Muhammadu Buhari-led government is not doing enough to protect religious freedom.
He said the Buhari regime had suppressed the news of the killings of Christians by masking it as farmer-herder crisis.
He said, “At least 1,500 Christians have already been killed in Nigeria during 2021, and even more have been kidnapped and are either being held hostage or trafficked. The attacks are brutal. Armed radical Islamic groups arrive in a village during the night, kill the men, rape and murder the women, and kidnap the children.
“The Nigerian government thus far has sought to downplay the attacks, characterising them as conflicts between herders and farmers rather than as religiously motivated acts of terror. These terrorists must be held accountable for such preposterous characterisations. And given that Nigeria has the largest Christian population of any African country – over 80 million, nearly half of its people – it is essential that this persecution is snuffed out before it becomes even worse.”
The former American official said every single day in Nigeria, Christians aren’t just having their right to religious freedom denied – they are being murdered because of their faith in Jesus.
Pompeo argued that no society that denies its people the right to worship according to their beliefs, or that allows that right to come under attack without consequence, can claim to be truly good.
He said in 2018, 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Dapchi, Yobe State but when a deal was cut to return most of the girls home, one was held back – Leah Sharibu because she refused to convert to Islam.
The former secretary of state asked how Sharibu could remain in captivity for three years without any consequence.