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Nigeria: An extremely dangerous place to be a Christian

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Image source: unitedsharelife.org

Human rights activists and researchers, in a new report said, that a little over a decade (July 2009 to July 2021), nearly 43,000 Christians have been killed as a direct result of radical Islamic attacks in the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRG).

According to the report, the 43,000 Christian deaths occurred following systematic and coordinated attacks majorly targeted at Christians by radical Islamists or Islamic Jihadists and their collaborators in the Nigerian security forces. The Nigerian Jihadists sparsely and collaterally target moderate Muslims as collateral mistakes or punishments of those collaborating with the ‘unbelievers’ or in revenge for state actor attacks against their targets, or  for purpose of enforcement of Islamic Sharia law or code.

Independently speaking, too, the Islamic Jihadists and their ‘esprit de jihad’ in the Nigerian security forces have been responsible for at least 18,500 Christian deaths arising from enforced disappearances, or those abducted and most unlikely to return alive. The 18,500 jihadist captivity slain Christians are out of estimated 26,000 of such deaths since 2009, put by a United Nations Agency in 2019 at 22,500.

Generally speaking, the total number of defenseless Nigerians abducted by the Jihadists since 2009 is put at 36,000, out of which 18,500 are Christians who are most unlikely to return alive. While most of the Muslims abducted by Jihadists in Nigeria are later released unconditionally to their families, most of their Christian counterparts are killed in captivity or forcefully converted to Islam. A typical case in point was the abduction of 276 Chibok Girls by BH on 14-15 April, 2014. Apart from 217 of them belonging to the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), they are still held and have been forcefully converted to Islam and married off by the Jihadists.

The report further refers to atrocities of the Jihadists directed at Christians and their properties including homes, worship and learning centers, ancestral lands, farmlands, forests and bushes include: massacres, killings, mutilations, torture, maiming, abductions, hostage-taking, rape, girl-child defilements, forced marriages, disappearances, extortions, forceful conversions and destruction or burning of homes and sacred worship and learning centers as well as forceful occupation of farmlands, destruction and forceful harvesting of farm crops and other internationally prohibited acts.

During the past twelve years, it was also independently found that no fewer than 30 million Christians especially in Northern Nigeria and their ethno-religion were threatened and ten million of them have been uprooted. Six million forced to flee their homes or geopolitical locations to avoid being hacked to death and over four million displaced and became IDPs; and out of the four million Christian IDPs, over one million are found in Benue State and 1.3m in the ‘BAY’ States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, excluding Taraba.

Tens of thousands of Christians especially the educated and the rich from Northern Nigeria have become ‘urban refugees’, asylum seekers and refugees at international borders and foreign countries, so as to escape being hacked to death or decapitated by the Jihadists.

Indirect deaths arising from the jihadist attacks in the country in the same past twelve years are in hundreds of thousands and Christians are the most affected including being the most brutally targeted and attacked. The ‘indirect’ jihadist fatalities arose from the outlawed military and jihadist groups’ bombings and killings arising from torture and custodial killings and enforced disappearances as well as other deaths arising from starvation, lack of adequate medical facilities and treatments.

In the past twelve years, at least 17,500 churches and 2000 Christian schools, and other learning centers have been attacked by the Jihadists and were destroyed in part or in whole or burned or razed down. In the past seven months of 2021, for instance, the number of churches threatened or attacked and destroyed or burned down has risen to over 300 and from July 2009 to July 2021, no fewer than 17,500 churches and 2000 Christian schools have been affected.

The number of Mosques and Islamic learning centers attacked by the Jihadists is minutely insignificant and acutely disproportionate when compared with the number of churches or Christian schools attacked. While attacks on symbols of worship by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Jihadist Fulani Bandits are 100 percent targeted at churches and Christian schools, those perpetrated by BH, ISWAP, Ansaru and others are mostly directed at churches and Christian schools with insignificant percent directed at Mosques and Islamic learning centers.

According to Ms Anna Mulder of the US based Open Doors, “between July 2009 and Dec 2014, a period of five years, BH killed between 11,000-11,500 Christians in Northern Nigeria, forced 1.6m to flee their homes to avoid being hacked to death by the Jihadists who also burnt or destroyed 13,500 churches and 1,500 Christian schools.”

It has been found that between Jan 2015 and July 2021, a period of six years and seven months, at least 4000 more churches and 500 Christian schools have been attacked and destroyed or burnt in part or in whole by the Jihadists. While BH attacks on churches and Christian schools, from 2009 to 2014 were majorly launched and carried out in Plateau, Kano, Kaduna, FCT, Taraba, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe and Bauchi; the recent attacks especially by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen have been targeted on Christian areas in Plateau, Benue, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa, Niger and Kastina States.

Further, no fewer than 500 Christian communities have uprooted and seized or taken over, renamed and Islamized by the Jihadists since 2009. BH, ISWAP and Ansaru and Jihadist Fulani Bandits have forced Christians out of their ancestral homes and communities in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Taraba, Kastina, Sokoto and Niger States, Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen have sacked hundreds of Christian communities in Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Benue, Taraba and Adamawa States.

Over 100 communities have been affected in Southern Kaduna alone and in Benue, Plateau and Taraba States, Christian homes and churches have been destroyed or burnt beyond recognition and their communities and Christian sacred worship centers sacked and replaced with Mosques and Muslim settlements. In all these, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Southern Kaduna and Benue States are the worst hit.

For instance, indigenous Christians used to be dominant in Southern Borno, Southern Kebbi, Northern Adamawa, and parts of Gpmbe, 40% in Kaduna and over 80% in Southern part of the State, 80% in Plateau, over 90% in Benue and 60% in Taraba. They are found in their large numbers in five Local Government Areas of Niger State including Shiroro, Munya and Rafi. But since 2009, these Christians and their settlements are facing threats of annihilation in the hands of the Jihadists.

Over 80% of fertile farmlands and cultivated farmlands ancestrally owned by indigenous Christians across the country have also been brutally threatened or attacked or occupied, leading to country-wide chronic food shortages and galloping increases in their prices. In the ancestral Igbo Lands of Benue, Kogi, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia States, Intersociety’s recent research had found that no fewer than 700 forests, bushes and farmlands have been threatened, or attacked, or occupied by the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen since 2016.

Out of the estimated total ‘direct deaths’ of over 72,000 defenseless Nigerian citizens in the hands of Islamic Jihadists and their ‘esprit de jihad’ in the country’s security forces since 2009, 43,000 Christians have died involving: BH, ISWAP and Ansaru 18,000-18,500 Christian deaths, Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen 18,500-19,000 Christian deaths and others 5,500-6000 Christian deaths including security forces 2000-2,500 Christian deaths and Jihadist Fulani Bandits (formed in Zamfara State in 2011) 3,500 Christian deaths.

In other words, from July 2009 to Dec 2014, BH killed 11,500 Christians and from Jan 2015 to July 2021, the Jihadist Terror Group, joined by ISWAP and Ansaru killed additional 7000 Christians. Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, on their part, killed 6500 Christians including 1,229 in 2014 and 1,300 in 2015, from Jan 2010 to June 2015, a period of five and half years; and from June 2015 to July 2021, a period of six years, the Government protected jihadist cattle herders had attacked and massacred 12,5000 Christians.

Further breakdown, going by the previous reports, others indicated that Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen attacked and killed 650 Christians June-Dec 2015; 1,700 Christians in 2016; 2000 Christians in 2017; 2,400 Christians in 2018; about 1200 Christians in 2019; more than 2,400-2500, out of 3,530 total Christian deaths in 2020; and 2100 Christians from Jan to July 2021-totaling 12,500 Christians killed by Jihadist fulani herdsmen alone since June 2015 since the inception of the present central government.

The above statistical breakdown and analysis indicated that Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen killings doubled from Jan 2010 to June 2015, a period of five and half years with 6,500 Christian deaths; to 12,500 Christian deaths from June 2015 to July 2021, a period of six years. Boko Haram Jihadists, on their part, killed more Christians (11,500 Christian deaths) from July 2009 to June 2015, a period of six years, than they (including ISWAP, Ansaru and others) have killed (7,000 Christians) from July 2015 to July 2021, a period of six years.

About the Group: The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law is a leading research and investigative rights group since 2008 and has monitored, investigated, documented and exposed religious persecution and other forms of religious violence by state and non-state actors across Nigeria and beyond since 2010.

MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.

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Africa

Money seized from Equatorial Guinea VP Goes into Vaccine

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As a classic precedence, the Justice Department of the United States has decided that $26.6m (£20m) seized from Equatorial Guinea’s Vice-President Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue be used on purchasing COVID-19 vaccines and other essential medical programmes in Equitorial Guinea, located on the west coast of central Africa.

“Wherever possible, kleptocrats will not be allowed to retain the benefits of corruption,” an official said in a statement, and reported by British Broadcasting Corporation.

Obiang was forced to sell a mansion in Malibu, California, a Ferrari and various Michael Jackson memorabilia as part of a settlement he reached with the US authorities in 2014 after being accused of corruption and money-laundering. He denied the charges.

The agreement stated that $10.3m of the money from the sale would be forfeited to the US and the rest would be distributed to a charity or other organisation for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea, the Justice Department said.

The UN is to receive $19.25m to purchase and administer COVID-19 vaccines to at least 600,000 people in Equatorial Guinea, while a US-based charity is to get $6.35m for other medical programmes in Equatorial Guinea.

Teodorin Nguema has been working in position as Vice-President since 2012, before that he held numerous government positions, including Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. Known for his unquestionable lavish lifestyle, he has been the subject of a number of international criminal charges and sanctions for alleged embezzlement and corruption. He has a fleet of branded cars and a number of houses, and two houses alone in South Africa,

Teodorin Nguema has often drawn criticisms in the international media for lavish spending, while majority of the estimated 1.5 million population wallows in abject poverty. Subsistence farming predominates, with shabby infrastructure in the country. Equatorial Guinea consists of two parts, an insular and a mainland region. Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.

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African Union’s Inaction on Ethiopia Deplorable – Open Letter

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The crisis in northern Ethiopia has resulted in millions of people in need of emergency assistance and protection. © UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt

A group of African intellectuals says in an open letter that it is appalled and dismayed by the steadily deteriorating situation in Ethiopia. The letter, signed by 58 people, says the African Union’s lack of effective engagement in the crisis is deplorable. The letter calls on regional bloc IGAD and the AU to “proactively take up their mandates with respect to providing mediation for the protagonists to this conflict”.

The letter also asks for “all possible political support” for the AU’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, whose appointment was announced on August 26, 2021. A United Nations Security Council meeting on the same day welcomed the former Nigerian president’s appointment.

Earlier in August 2021, UN  chief Antonio Guterres appealed for a ceasefire, unrestricted aid access and an Ethiopian-led political dialogue. He told the council these steps were essential to preserve Ethiopia’s unity and the stability of the region and to ease the humanitarian crisis. He said that he had been in close contact with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and had received a letter from the leader of the Tigray region in response to his appeal. “The UN is ready to work together with the African Union and other key partners to support such a dialogue,” he said.

August 26, 2021 was only the second time during the conflict that the council held a public meeting to discuss the situation. Britain, Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway and the United States requested the session.

Fighting between the national government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front broke out in November 2020, leaving millions facing emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, according to the United Nations. Both sides have been accused of atrocities.

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More African Countries Register Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine

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Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is a specialized technical institution of the African Union (AU) that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes.

During the outbreak of the coronavirus, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), was established by African Union, as a component in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy and was endorsed by the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government on 20th of August 2020.

Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), has emphasized: “Africa has to team up with development partners to achieve its 60% continent-wide vaccination in the next two years. I think that is why we should as a collective of the continent, and of course, in partnership with the developed world make sure that Africa has a timely access to vaccines to meet our vaccination targets.”

An official media release in February 2021, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team from the African Union (AU) informed that Russia would supply and deliver 300 million Sputnik V vaccines to Africa. That step was intended to support African countries to attain their targeted immunization of 60% of the population by the year-end. That vaccine story disappeared, but instead what become so common is the speedy registration of Sputnik V on bilateral basis in various African countries.

According to the latest, Nigeria has become the 68th country in the world to approve the Russian vaccine. The use of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has been approved in Nigeria, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in an official statement.

“The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund) announces the approval of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control of Nigeria (NAFDAC). Nigeria has become the 68th country in the world to approve the Russian vaccine. Total population of all countries, where Sputnik V is approved for use, now exceeds 3.7 billion people, which is nearly half of the global population,” the statement said.

“Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, and the approval of Sputnik V will provide for using one of the safest and most effective vaccines in the world. Sputnik V is based on a proven human adenoviral vectors platform and is successfully used in over 50 countries. Approval in Nigeria will make an important contribution to the country’s fight against the pandemic,” CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev said.

Besides Nigeria, other African countries have registered Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Reportedly, the vaccine has been registered in Algeria, Angola, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia, the Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe.

Russia’s drive to share Sputnik V vaccine, of course, offers a chance to raise its image and strengthen alliances in Africa. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has made efforts promoting the vaccine using all its channels. But supply and delivery have largely lagged behind, the pledges have simply not been fulfilled. Russian authorities have oftentimes said that they would step up efforts for fruitful cooperation in combating coronavirus in Africa.

Promising more than can be delivered appears to be a universal problem with coronavirus vaccines, and it is a real risk for Russia as well, said Theresa Fallon, Director of the Brussels-based Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies. “They have won the gold medal for creating this very effective vaccine,” she said. “But the problem is how are they going to implement production and delivery?”

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), with profit motivation, has attempted supplying the Russian vaccines through, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, from the Monarch family and a third party in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to a number of African countries. For instance, the Republic of Ghana reportedly signed US$64.6 million contract for Sputnik V vaccine from Russia through Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum. It was double the price from the producer as reported in the media.

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin has noted, in a speech early September, that advanced countries that produce vaccines against the coronavirus do little to protect humanity from the pandemic.

“The benefits of vaccination are enjoyed mostly by advanced economies. The bulk of the vaccines is made there, and it is used to protect their own population. But very little is being done to protect humanity in the broad sense,” Putin said at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the Far East of Russia. “This is very bad for the producers, because all this boomerangs around the globe. For instance, in Africa the level of protection with vaccines is minimal, but contacts with the African countries continue. There is no getting away from this. This infection will return again and again.”

According to an official release obtained late February, the Sputnik V vaccine the following advantages:

• Efficacy of Sputnik V is 91.6% as confirmed by the data published in the Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journals; It is one of only three vaccines in the world with efficacy of over 90%; Sputnik V provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19. 

• The Sputnik V vaccine is based on a proven and well-studied platform of human adenoviral vectors, which cause the common cold and have been around for thousands of years. 

• Sputnik V uses two different vectors for the two shots in a course of vaccination, providing immunity with a longer duration than vaccines using the same delivery mechanism for both shots. 

• The safety, efficacy and lack of negative long-term effects of adenoviral vaccines have been proven by more than 250 clinical studies over two decades. 

• The developers of the Sputnik V vaccine are working collaboratively with AstraZeneca on a joint clinical trial to improve the efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine. 

• There are no strong allergies caused by Sputnik V. 

• The price of Sputnik V is less than $10 per shot, making it affordable around the world. 

In February, peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet published an analysis from Phase III clinical trial of the Russian vaccine, showing its 91.6-percent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19. The Sputnik V vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

Sputnik V was registered in Russia on August 11, 2020 as the world’s first officially registered coronavirus vaccine. Russian vaccines have advantages as no deaths have been reported after vaccination with the Sputnik V, Alexander Gintsburg, Director of the Gamaleya Center, the vaccine developer, said and was reported by TASS News Agency. “As of today, no deaths after vaccination with Sputnik V have been registered,” he said.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is Russia’s sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 to make equity co-investments, primarily in Russia, alongside reputable international financial and strategic investors. RDIF acts as a catalyst for direct investment in the Russian economy. RDIF’s management is based in Moscow.

In Africa, during first of September, the coronavirus-related death toll has topped 196,190, while more than 6.9 million recoveries have been reported. South Africa accounts for a majority of coronavirus cases and deaths across Africa – 2,777,659 and 82,261 respectively. The death toll in Tunisia climbed to 23,451, and 664,034 cases have been confirmed. Egypt recorded 16,736 deaths and 288,441 coronavirus cases.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia is ranked second to South Africa (308,134 cases and 4,675 deaths) and is followed by Kenya (235,863 cases and 4,726 deaths) and Nigeria (191,805 and 2,455). The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached almost 8 million in Africa, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa.

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