For Immediate Release
March 16, 2023
Hamilton Strategies, [email protected],
Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105,
or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102
Nigeria’s Descent into Chaos
How the Loss of Election Integrity Emboldens Terrorists
WASHINGTON — As citizens demand answers from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the wake of Nigeria’s highly suspect presidential and parliamentary elections, and in advance of gubernatorial elections in 36 states this weekend, Muslim Fulani militants have increased attacks on multiple Christian farming communities, killing dozens and driving thousands from their homes and villages in Benue, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and elsewhere.
The controversial presidential election on February 25 naming Bola Ahmed Tinubu as president-elect is being challenged in the courts by the opposition parties. “Meanwhile,” reports the Catholic News Agency (CNA), “recent terrorist raids in Benue, a predominantly Catholic state in north-central Nigeria, are getting scant mention.”
Emboldened by the current political chaos and desperate to ensure the election of leaders they believe will continue to provide cover for their atrocities, radicalized Fulani have threatened citizens with even more mayhem should their gubernatorial candidates fail at the polls.
Before, during and since the elections, Fulani militants have terrorized communities in at least six Benue counties. In separate raids on February 25 and March 7, more than 70 innocent citizens were slaughtered and many more maimed. Eight villages near the town of Naka, west of the state capitol, Makurdi, have been under near daily attack since February 2 when a police officer was killed on the Naka-Makurdi highway while clearing corpses left behind by the jihadists. More than 5,000 refugees have flooded into Naka, a town of 3,000. They sleep on the ground in makeshift mosquito net tents built with twigs. The attackers arrived on motorbikes and using machetes, hacked their victims to death for hours without military or police intervention.
Depending on the source, Benue bears the burden of an estimated 1-2 million internally displaced people (IDPs), whose homesteads, farms and villages have been emptied of their inhabitants and are often taken over and held by the terrorists. According to one priest, a first responder for the IDPs, Makurdi is host to over 400,000 internal refugees. The state provides food and water on a monthly basis but the Nigerian federal government, dominated by Fulanis in top government posts, does not recognize them or provide aid, and U.S. government officials refuse to travel outside of the capitol of Abuja to investigate. Rather, for political gain, the Biden administration tends to favor and protect Nigeria’s enablers of persecution.
At the end of January, Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), took a fact-finding mission to Benue and Plateau states.
“I wanted to see for myself the conditions of the afflicted Christians of Nigeria’s Middle Belt which the Nigerian government denies, and U.S. officials ignore,” said Laugesen. “Benue is the breadbasket of Nigeria. The people of Benue are predominantly Christian. Their lands are rich with potential, but the soil is drenched in the blood of its farmers. Most destitute and deprived are the little children. I held the swollen bellies of starving babies and toddlers, surrounded by hundreds of children, all under 10 or 11 years old, their bellies belied their hunger. They were bloated and protruding. They smiled for us and we smiled for them — but we were all crying inside and the tears came in torrents once I had left them behind. I left my heart behind with them. I do not know how many young orphans exist in Nigeria today, but the number is staggering given the sheer number of orphanages. The people trying to make a difference are often themselves survivors of terrorist attacks on their homes and villages. World governments won’t help. They desperately need help from those who will step up to give aid to the least in Christ’s kingdom.”
These stories and more will be presented on Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC) next webinar, “Nigeria’s Descent into Chaos: How the Loss of Election Integrity Emboldens Terrorists,” as well as what Americans and the government should be doing to help end the violence and provide for the needs of the afflicted at 4:30-6 pm ET, Thursday, March 16.
WHAT: An STPC Webinar | Nigeria’s Descent into Chaos: How the Loss of Election Integrity Emboldens Terrorists
WHEN: 4:30 – 6:00 pm ET, Thursday, March 16, 2023
Frank Gaffney: President and CEO of Save the Persecuted Christians
Eric Ueland: former Acting Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights; Served in the Trump White House as Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; current Commissioner for the US Commission on International Religious Freedom but joins us in his personal capacity as a member of the 2023 IRI-NDI Nigeria election observer mission
- Topic: Observations on the Nigerian Elections and What it Portends for the People of Nigeria
Douglas Burton: Douglas Burton is a former U.S. State Department official who was stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq. He writes news and commentary from Washington, D.C. now reporting in focus on Nigeria; coordinator of Rural Watch, a group of Nigerian independent journalists reporting on the ground from Nigeria
- Topic: Election Fallout and Signs the Terrorists have been Emboldened
Rev. Ihyula Remigius: Catholic Diocese of Makurdi Director of the Foundation of Justice and Peace in Benue State; acts as a first responder for reporting on attacks in Benue
- Topic: Benue’s IDP Camps Are Full to the Brim — Who Will Hear the Cry of the Poor?
Pastor Greg Tweddell: Pastor of Ignition 633 operating a mission in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria serving the needs of Benue’s Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs)
- Topic: Ministering to the Victims of Violence and Expanding Christ’s Kingdom in Benue and Jos — What Can Be Done?
Bamshak Dawger: Orphanage Founder & Director, Seeds of Hope, Jos, Nigeria
- Topic: Picking Up the Pieces and Building Hope and a Future for the Orphans of Nigeria
Gloria Puldu: President of the Leah Foundation in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria serving vulnerable women and girls
- Topic: The Impact of Violence on the Lives of Women and Girls in Nigeria
Pastor Akila Yusuf: Senior Pastor, House on the Rock, Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria and supervisor of affiliated churches in North Eastern Nigeria; founder, The Cutting Edge Network, inspiring and empowering pastors to transform their lives, their churches and communities and serving needs for IDPs and other vulnerable people
- Topic: Engaging Nigerian Church Leaders to Serve the Least Among Us
Judd Saul: President of Equipping the Persecuted, a ministry dedicated to serving the persecuted people of Nigeria; founder of an orphanage in Nigeria
- Topic: How American Citizens and Others Can Equip the Needs of Persecuted People and Help Shelter the Innocent
Dede Laugesen: Executive Director, Save the Persecuted Christians; recent traveler to Makurdi in Benue State and Jos in Plateau State
- Topic: In the Breadbasket of Nigeria, Children are Starving — Why Doesn’t the World Respond?
Drew Bowling: Advisor for the International Catholic Legislators Network Washington DC Office and Global Coalitions and Policy Advisor; Director of Coalitions at Belmont Abbey College; independent contractor for government relations, strategic communications, and coalition building; former Senior Advisor to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry
- Topic: Resolving to Hold the Persecutors Accountable for Crimes Against Humanity — What Can Be Done?
HOW: Register to attend at SaveThePersecutedChristians.org
To interview representatives of Save the Persecuted Christians, contact [email protected], Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102