Nigerian Christian leaders met with the British High Commissioner to Nigeria this week to ask for help in establishing a Truth, Peace and Reconciliation Commission to bring “healing, forgiveness and reconciliation to Nigeria”.
The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), which met with Paul Arkwright in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Wednesday (2 May), said the commission would also enable Christians affected by Islamist insurgencies to demand compensation and seek justice for the actions against them.
This would include “inventory, assessment and payment of compensation for lives and property lost to Islamic insurgency and Jihad in the country”, an NCEF statement said.
While not making any commitment, the British High Commissioner agreed that the setting up of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a good idea, according to a report on the meeting by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The Christian elders also asked for the British Government’s intervention in securing the release of the over 100 remaining missing Chibok girls and of Leah Sharibu, 14, abducted by Boko Haram from Dapchi in February. The only Christian among the 110 girls abducted, she is also now the only one still being held captive.
The NCEF, which is an arm of the Christian Association of Nigeria and is made up of Christian elders from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria, stated that “the Islamists of northern Nigeria seem determined to turn Nigeria into an Islamic Sultanate and replace Liberal Democracy with Sharia as the National Ideology … [and] source of legislation”.
They said Islamists are murdering Christians and destroying Christian places of worship and communities “at an alarming and inhuman rate”.
Suggesting that Boko Haram and extremists among the Fulani herdsmen want to drive the country into another civil war, they said: “Any war situation in Nigeria is bound to negatively impact Africa as a continent and put tremendous pressure on Europe, particularly Great Britain, and the United States of America. Therefore, it is in the best interest of Western powers to intervene before the situation spirals out of control.”
They also called on Britain to use its historic relationship with the Fulanis to “to join in calling the Fulanis to order” and said “Christians are willing to live in peace will all other citizens of Nigeria, irrespective of religious beliefs or cultural affiliation”.
On Monday (30 April), US President Donald Trump decried the killings of Christians in Nigeria as he met with Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari in Washington.
The killing of 19 worshipers, including priests Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, last week (24 April), provoked outrage in Nigeria and elsewhere.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria urged President Buhari to step down in the wake of the massacre.