Southeastern Nigeria Facing “worst genocide world has ever seen”, Catholic Charity Warns

Late Deborah Yakubu. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Several indications have emerged that Nigeria is experiencing a genocide especially in the country’s Southeastern region where Fulani herdsmen are hacking Christians to death on a daily basis.

For Catholic charity foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), that is researching the killings in Nigeria, what is reported in the media about Nigeria barely scratches the surface of the real situation of the West African nation.

In an interview with ACI Africa, DHPI Director Johan Viljoen said that unless the international community moves in to act, the genocide in Nigeria could escalate into the worst situation that the world has ever known.

“It is time for people to wake up and to see what is happening and to take concerted effort in solidarity with the people of Southeastern region of Nigeria, or otherwise, we will be facing a genocide on a scale that the world has not yet seen,” Mr. Viljoen said during the May 21 interview.

Commenting on the May 20 massacre in the Agasha locality of Nigeria’s Benue State, the DHPI Director said, “What happened in Benue State is just a tip of the iceberg of the reality in Nigeria. If the world does not wake up to take action, no matter what, we will be facing a genocide in the Southeastern Nigeria, the equal of which has not yet been seen.”


The official of the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) also made reference to the widely condemned killing of college girl, Deborah Yakubu Emmanuel who was stoned to death and her body burned.

“DHPI has been reporting on the ongoing Christian genocide in Southeastern Nigeria for two years now. The horrifying case of Deborah Samuels in Sokoto finally woke up the world to the reality of what is happening. But this is not an isolated incident,” Mr. Viljoen told ACI Africa. 

He said Deborah’s killing “is the reality that is faced by tens of millions of Nigerians through the Southeastern parts of the country on a daily basis.”

In an attempt to describe the worrying situation in Nigeria, the DHPI Director said that with over 2 million internally displaced people in Benue State alone, there are more IDPs in the Nigerian State than there are in Mozambique, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and in Ethiopia.

The DHPI official echoes the sentiments of Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe of Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Makurdi who maintains that there is widespread genocide in Nigeria and that the authorities in the country have chosen to remain silent.

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“I want to make a personal appeal to all people of goodwill out there, I wish to say, please remember that a genocide is ongoing here in Benue State, Nigeria and other parts of the country with the government in power silently watching on as it fits into the power plan and religious intolerance plans of those in power,” Bishop Wilfred says in a statement that was circulated on May 20.

He adds, “Just days ago, an innocent Christian girl by name Deborah Samuel was stoned and burnt to death by Muslim youths in Sokoto State, in the name of blasphemy against their prophet. Already there are signs that the Nigerian government may not bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice with the initial reactions and proclamations already emanating from government offices.”

In the statement in which he regrets the fact that he has not paid a single visit to a number of pastoral areas under his care owing to widespread terrorism by Islamist Fulani herdsmen in Benue State, Bishop Anagbe says that the future of Nigeria where “a silent genocide of Christians” is happening, is grim unless the international community intervenes.

“With the way Christian populations have been targeted in Nigeria especially in the last seven years suggest that sooner or later, our story will become like that of North Africa, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon etc., unless and until the world accepts that a silent genocide of Christians is taking place in Nigeria and rises to demand a stop to the killings,” Bishop Anagbe says in his statement circulated May 20.

The Catholic Bishop laments the killings in Nigeria. He says, “The blood of the innocent people shed daily by murderous Islamists in Benue and other parts of Nigeria cries out to the world for help like that of Abel’s in the bible, Gen.4:10.”


“Please help stop the senseless killings by bringing this silent genocide to the attention of the outside world,” Bishop Anagbe appeals in his statement.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.