When one black man was killed in the US, the cry of “I can’t breathe” reverberated round the world – or at least the Western world – and ‘taking the knee’ became a ritual to signify that black lives matter, for, indeed, Black Lives Matter. The media inculcated it: the BBC, Channel 4, Sky and every broadsheet and tabloid was crammed with it. Politicians, teachers, celebrities, sportspeople, bishops and archbishops all preached it, for it is important to stand up to racism.
When 3,462 black people are killed in Nigeria, the whisper of silence disturbs nothing and no-one. Not even BBC World can be bothered to report that 3,462 Christians have been hacked to death by Nigerian jihadists in the past 200 days; or that 3,000 have been abducted; or that 300 churches have been burnt down or destroyed; or that 10 priests have been murdered.
And Nigeria is a member of the Commonwealth, yet “the jihadists operate freely under the cover and protection of the security forces; abducting, killing, looting, destroying or burning and forcefully converting their captive and unprotected Christians and their homes and sacred places of worship and learning. But the same security forces hatefully and brutally respond with utter ferocity against Southern and Northern Christians are accused of infraction or offending the law.”
George Floyd was choked by a white cop. Perhaps that’s the difference. And 3,462 black Christians have been hacked to pieces by black Muslims. Perhaps that’s not news.
Or do black lives matter more in the US than they do in Nigeria?
Or do black lives matter more in the West than they do in Africa?
Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor of ‘Vanguard‘, notes that some members of the House of Lords are troubled by the systematic slaughter of Christians in Nigeria. But it’s curious that even a request to the Foreign Secretary by prominent peers Lord (David) Alton and Baroness (Caroline) Cox has not made a single column inch in any newspaper. They wrote:
We write following the publication of a new report by Nigerian human rights group, Intersociety (December 14, 2020), which raises serious concerns about the scale of human rights abuses in Nigeria and the need for an urgent response.
Attacks led by Islamist militia continue in northern states and the Middle Belt, with almost-daily reports of killings, mayhem, rape and sexual abuse, abductions and enslavement, mass forced displacement and land-grabs. According to Intersociety, an estimated 34,400 Christians have been killed in Nigeria since 2009 – including 17,000 by Boko Haram (and its splinter groups) and 15,500 by Fulani militia.
Reports consistently showed that in Nigeria, month after month, on average of hundreds of Christians were being killed for reasons connected with their faith. Those worst affected included Christian women and girls abducted, and forced to convert, enter forced marriages, sexual abuse and torture.
The same concerns were raised in two other recent reports: ‘Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?’ by the APPG for International Freedom of Religion or Belief; and ‘Nigeria’s Silent Slaughter: Genocide in Nigeria and the Implications for the International Community,’ by the International Committee on Nigeria and the International Organisation on Peace-building and Social Justice.
The ICC’s decade-long preliminary investigation (which concluded December 11, 2020) found that Nigerian security forces have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, including: murder, rape, torture, and cruel treatment; enforced disappearance; forcible transfer of population; outrages upon personal dignity; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such and against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; unlawful imprisonment; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and political grounds; and other inhumane acts.
The ICC confirmed that domestic courts have not responded to atrocities adequately or at all and that the Nigerian government has failed in its obligations to hold those responsible to account. However, the Office of the Prosecutor faces serious resource constraints to investigating and prosecuting new situations and cases. We therefore urge HMG, as a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to ensure any investigation is adequately resourced.
Intersociety reports that 1,400 Christians have been killed by the Nigerian army, police and air force. Nigerian army’s former Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Theophilus Danjuma says the armed forces are “not neutral, they collude” in the “ethnic cleansing in riverine states” by Fulani herders. He insists that villagers must defend themselves because “depending on the armed forces” will result in them dying “one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop.
The UK Government’s responded with facts about aid (£2 billion between 2011 and 2018), and shares “growing concerns over how the funds are spent; and how it could be better spent”; and how “those most at risk of attack must be protected”; and of the “need to bring perpetrators to justice”.
So Dominic Raab believes that aid, diplomacy and inter-faith dialogue that will stop the systematic slaughter of Christians.
Black lives matter – unless they are African and Christian, and then nobody particularly gives a damn, except Lord Alton and Baroness Cox. But of one thing you can be sure: if 3,462 Muslims had been hacked to death by fundamentalist Christians, with 3,000 abducted, 300 mosques burnt or destroyed and 10 imams abducted or killed, we’d be hearing a bit more about it – at least from the BBC, even if it happened in Africa.