The United States is taking limited action against the persecution of Christians in Nigeria – but part of the problem is the Nigerian government.
The killing of Christians by Fulani tribesmen in northeast Nigeria is at such a high level that religious leaders there – as well as a former member of the British House of Commons – are appealing to the international community not to make the same mistake that was made with the genocide in Rwanda.
Jubilee Campaign USA agrees, saying that ethnic cleansing in Nigeria meets the standard for genocide – and goes beyond what for decades has been relegated to "farmer-herder clashes" by the Nigerian government.
"There's a great deal of concern because very little has been done by the Nigerian government about the Fulani militants who are taking these actions," says Ann Buwalda, who heads Jubilee Campaign. "In some ways, the Nigerian government is even rewarding the Fulani militants by providing land and other material goods to them."
A recent report by Buwalda's organization documents the increasing scale and severity of Fulani militant attacks against predominantly Christian farming communities in Nigeria – and chronicles at least 52 such attacks from January 1, 2019 to the middle of June. And according to data compiled by World Watch Monitor, over 4,000 Christians were killed, almost 3,000 were injured, and 30 churches and over 195,000 homes were damaged in Nigeria between 2014 and 2016.
While the Nigerian government has done little to stop the massacres, Buwalda says the U.S. has laws in place to take action – for example, with restrictions on visas.
"The United States government has actually taken such action and … has imposed visa restrictions on a number of Nigerians, the most important of which – from our viewpoint – would be Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna State," she shares.
The governor, Buwalda explains, has attempted to implement sharia, forcing it on Christians; and those who don't accept it, she says, could be forced out or killed.
Another reason why the national government has done relatively nothing is that the nation's president, Muhammadu Buhari, is Fulani – the terrorist group that may have killed more Christians than the Boko Haram.