Witnesses to Violence Denounce the Fiction of a Farmer-Herdsmen Narrative
For Immediate Release | June 12, 2019
2200 Rayburn HOB
Members are asked to consider adopting Leah Sharibu as a prisoner of conscience
WASHINGTON – Nigerian witnesses – including Rebecca Sharibu, the mother of Boko Haram “slave for life” Leah Sharibu – will give first-hand accounts of what they say is a genocide that is decimating Christians in Africa’s most populous country.
Save the Persecuted Christians and the International Committee on Nigeria are hosting the Nigerian witnesses at a Capitol Hill briefing at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, in room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
“Americans need to know about the genocidal violence against Christians in Nigeria before it is too late,” said Save the Persecuted Christians Executive Director Dede Laugesen. “What if we could turn back the clock on Syria and Iraq, Rwanda, Germany or Armenia? Wouldn’t we do it? With Nigeria, the time to act is now with the appointment of a Special Envoy—before violence and insecurity explode into a genocide of biblical proportions. We cannot continue to deny evidence of religious-based violence happening in Nigeria.”
The powerful testimony by four Nigerian women and one man comes on the heels of presidential adviser Ivanka Trump’s announcement of a new Trump administration initiative to boost the role of women in promoting global peace.
At a Heritage Foundation forum Tuesday, the Nigerians factually disputed propaganda promoted by the Nigerian federal government that characterizes deadly violence by Fulani jihadists as communal clashes between herdsmen and farmers enduring the economic consequences of global warming.
“We are here today to beg the U.S. government to hear our story,” said Alheri Bawa Magaji a daughter of the leader of the Adara a mostly Christian tribe that endured weeks of Muslim Fulani violence and massacres earlier this year. “Every time the government gives the narrative they will tell you its farmer-herdsmen. We are not organized. We do not have AK47s. How is that organized? How is that a fight between Fulani herdsmen and farmers?”
Napolean Adamu of Benue State said, “The Fulani are not the traditional Fulani we have known. The Fulani used to come with their wives and children. Now they come well armed. With AK47s and only young men. It is really alarming.”
Dr. Richard Ikiebe, a senior fellow and director at the Center for Leadership in Journalism at Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos, described “a deliberate confusion of narrative” that covers up a genocide.”
Human rights champion and former U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who will present at today’s briefing, described Boko Haram and Fulani atrocities as “genocidal and said, “How can we as a nation stand by and watch what is happening in Nigeria. We cannot allow genocide to take place. We have become very complacent if we just say what has taken place is just herdsmen and farmer.”
At the briefing on Wednesday, Rebecca Sharibu—traveling outside of Nigeria for the first time since her daughter was kidnapped in February, 2018—will speak and take questions. At Heritage on Tuesday she said through tears, “I am pleading with the government of the U.S., please, bring my daughter back. I need my daughter.”
“Why is she in captivity?” Sharibu said Tuesday through an interpreter. “Just because she refused to renounce her faith…Boko Haram has been raging all over the north. Women and girls are going through hell. Please pressure our government.”
Sharibu and others want President Trump to act to stop what they say is genocide.
“We are pleading with the government of the U.S. … President Trump can do something about it…All of you here can do something about it,” Sharibu said Tuesday.
Magaji suggests the United States needs to hold Nigeria accountable for the money it receives each year for aid.
“The United States government is very influential with the Nigerian government,” she said Tuesday. “I know there’s a lot of money the Nigerian government collects. We’re here to beg you to hold them accountable.”
Also at the Wednesday briefing, experts will discuss Fulani militants, Boko Haram and ISIS in West African province and the Nigerian federal government’s inability, or unwillingness, to provide its people security and succor from some of the world’s most deadly terrorists.
WHO: Save the Persecuted Christians and International Committee on Nigeria
WHAT: “Insecurity and Violence in Nigeria: Exploring Truth and Exposing Fiction”
WHEN: Wednesday, June 12 @ 2:30 p.m
WHERE: Room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
WHY: To expose violence perpetrated by radical groups in Nigeria
HOW: The briefing is open to Members, the public and media. Contact Dede Laugesen at (719) 659-3121 cell or by email (email@example.com)
Panel I – Witnesses to Violence
· Rebecca Sharibu, mother of Christian teen Leah, a schoolgirl kidnapped in 2018 by ISWAP
· Alheri Bawa Magaji, daughter of the Adara tribe massacred by Fulani militants in 2019
· Mercy Maisamari, daughter of the Adara tribe massacred by Fulani militants in 2019
· Napoleon Adamu, witness to violence perpetrated by Fulani militants in Benue state in 2016
Panel II – Experts Discuss Drivers of Insecurity
· Dr. Richard Ikiebe, Sr. Fellow & Director, Center for Leadership in Journalism at Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria
· Hon. Frank R. Wolf, fmr. Congressman & Author of the International Religious Freedom Act
· Frank J. Gaffney, President & CEO of Save the Persecuted Christians
· Piero Tozzi, Republican Staff Director, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
Emcees: Kyle Abts, Director of the International Committee on Nigeria, and Dede Laugesen, Executive Director of Save the Persecuted Christians
The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.
According to Aid to the Church in Need, which released its biannual report on Religious Freedom in the World in November, over 300 million Christians experience persecution. According to Open Doors USA World Watch List, 245 million Christians are victims of high to extreme levels of persecution (i.e., torture, rape, sex-slavery, expulsion, murder and genocide), an increase of 14 percent over 2018. Open Doors also estimates 1 in 9 of the world’s Christians experience persecution and that every month: 345 Christians are killed, often in public and without regard to gender or age; 219 Christians are abducted and imprisoned indefinitely without trial; and 106 churches are demolished.
Since most of these crimes are not covered in the media, Save the Persecuted Christians has developed a dedicated news aggregator—www.ChristianPersecutionNews.com—to capture current instances of persecution and to provide readers with an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others.
With so much of the world’s Christian population being attacked, imprisoned and/or exiled for their beliefs, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.