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Penalize President of Nigeria for Insecurity, Catholic Entity in Africa Petitions AU

Logo of CitizenGo. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Officials of CitizenGo, a Catholic organization spearheading family issues in Africa, has petitioned the leadership African Union (AU) to penalize President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria for the heightened insecurity in the West African nation. 

In an August 6 interview with ACI Africa, the Campaigns Director in Africa, Ann Kioko, said the organization launched the petition against President Buhari because of the government’s laxity in addressing the attacks that seem to target Christians in the country.  

“The Christian persecution in Nigeria has been going on for a while and we have done a number of petitions to the government of Nigeria, delivered them even to the office of the President physically in Abuja but nothing has been done,” Ms. Kioko told ACI Africa.

She further said, “People are dying because of proclaiming Jesus and their government, their President, does not want to protect them.”

Ms. Kioko added, in reference to Leah Sharibu, an abductee of Boko Haram who remains in captivity for failing to renounce her Christian faith, “She is one of the many cases we have had in Nigeria and the insecurity, which started in the Northeast is now spreading all over Nigeria and the government of Nigeria is doing nothing.”

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According to the CitizenGo Campaigns Director in Africa, the petition that has been addressed to the AU Chairperson, President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is necessary “because something has to be done” in Nigeria. 

“We tried to petition the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) court on this issue but nothing. We have also followed the reaction of the government on the ongoing kidnappings, the killing of Pastors, Priests. The government seems to be complacent. Now we have to escalate and get the African Union,” the Kenyan-born Catholic activist said.

In the August 6 interview, the CitizenGo official expressed the hope that the AU leadership will offer penalties that include not allowing President Buhari to speak in any AU event, withdrawing Nigeria’s trade agreements, and all benefits that come with the AU. 

She said CitizenGo officials are pushing for tough penalties because “nothing is tougher than people being killed, people losing lives just because they proclaim God.” 

In the July 26 petition addressed to AU Chairman, President Tshisekedi, the officials of CitizenGo in Africa lament that “kidnappings and the massacre of Christians by Boko Haram extremists have become the norm of the day in Nigeria.”

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“It does not last a week without children being kidnapped or Priests, Pastors, fathers, mothers and even Pastors who are either killed or held captive in forests manned by bandits,” the officials say, and add that Christians in Nigeria “are living in fear, not sure of their safety in their own country.”

Nigeria has been grappling with insecurity since 2009 when the Boko Haram insurgency began targeted attacks with the aim of turning Africa's most populous nation into an Islamic nation.

Members of the Islamist group have been organizing random attacks on various targets including civilians, political and religious leaders.

A recent report by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) shows that at least 3,000 Christians, including ten Priests and Pastors were killed in Nigeria from the beginning of 2021 to July 18. 

The figure is the second highest since 2014 when over 5,000 Christian deaths were recorded in the hands of Boko Haram and Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, authors of the Intersociety report have observed.

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In the interview with ACI Africa, the CitizenGo official calls on the Christians in Nigeria to “have a lot of courage, pray, fast and never to feel discouraged by what is happening, by professing Jesus Christ.”

Ms. Kioko adds that followers of Christ in Nigeria must “get courage and remain in courage knowing that we are standing with them.”

To the people of God on the continent, Ms. Kioko said there is need to elect leaders who are responsible. 

“Reject people who are giving you freebies, bribing you for them to get into leadership. Once they bribe you, they will take back what they bribed you with, they will not be accountable. And this is what we are seeing in many African countries,” the Nairobi-based Catholic activist told ACI Africa August 6.