We will prioritise ending Christians persecution in Nigeria ―UK Parliament report

The United Kingdom has said it will correct what it described as injustices in Nigeria, especially the widespread and growing persecution of Christians.

The UK said Christians and other minority groups must be its priority in the post-COVID-19 pandemic that may devastate communities already threatened with extinction.

This is contained in a report by a powerful caucus in UK Parliament, the All Party-Parliamentary Group (APPG).

APPG also advised that the UK and global community should demand a full investigation of military complicity in the killings, violence and human rights abuses in Nigeria, especially in the Middle Belt.

One of the highlights of the report said the probe would provide insight to not only establishing trust between communities and security forces but also to maintaining respect for human rights.

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The report suggested that the international community should encourage the Federal Government of Nigeria and the National Assembly (bilaterally and multilaterally), to actively engage with the Middle Belt, with frequent presidential visits to the region.

The APPG made the demands in the report dedicated to Leah Sharibu, released in the UK titled: “Nigeria: Unfolding genocide?”, prepared for International Freedom of Religion or Belief and signed by its Chair and Member of Parliament, Jim Shannon and obtained by newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.

Recall that Leah Sharibu was one of the 110 female students of the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, who were abducted on February 19, 2018, by Boko Haram terrorists.

Regrettably, other abducted girls were released by the terrorists following negotiations, Sharibu is still being held captive because she refused to denounce her Christian faith.

“As Parliamentarians, I believe it is our responsibility to speak out on behalf of all the survivors and victims of violence, and all those who are suffering but who cannot speak out for themselves. One such survivor is Leah Sharibu, whose mother I was honoured to meet on a recent London visit.

“This report is dedicated to her and the millions of others who suffer so unspeakably. Its purpose is to explore the drivers of conflict and to highlight the seriousness of the situation and the level of injustice that Nigerian Christians face.

“Among all the injustices for the UK to help correct in the near future, the widespread and growing persecution of Christians should be top of the list. These Christians, and other persecuted minorities, must be our priority in the aftermath of a pandemic that may devastate communities already threatened with extinction.

“Thus, as the UK faces the challenge of lockdown and mass quarantine for the first time in living memory, I ask you to please spare a thought for those Christians who face not only a pandemic but also threats of violence and persecution that we can’t imagine. I urge the UK and Nigerian governments to do all that they can to bring an end to this violence and bring its perpetrators to justice.

“Two years ago, 14-year old Leah Sharibu was abducted by Islamist extremists from her school in Dapchi, North-East Nigeria. There are reports that she was enslaved, raped and impregnated, giving birth to a child, and that she has been denied her freedom for refusing to convert to Islam as a precondition for her release.

“Leah represents the worldwide struggle both for freedom of religion and belief and the unacceptable violence directed at women and girls. There are thousands of Leahs held all over Nigeria, and across the world”, Shannon said.

He said Her Majesty’s government in the UK and the international community have an important role to play in preventing violence, for the Nigeria of benefit and the entire region at large.

His words: “Therefore, the international community should demand a full investigation of cases of military complicity in violence and human rights abuses. This is key to establishing trust between communities and security forces but also to maintaining respect for human rights.

“International actors at the African Union and United Nations should negotiate and agree upon actions to address root causes of environmental degradation and desertification across the region.

“The international community should encourage the Nigerian government, bilaterally and multilaterally, to implement the National Livestock Programme and offer financial, technical and capacity-building support to implement the recommendations of this report.

“Representatives from the British governments and the international community should use all avenues available to continually encourage the Nigerian government to take more decisive action to address the violence. They should also assess the above recommendations to determine where they can offer support, e.g. with training for security personnel.”

 

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