A group representing senior Christians in Nigeria has accused the government of trying to Islamise the country.
In a statement on 6 September, ‘Jihad in Nigeria: burying the head in sand’, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) said jihad threatened the unity of the country.
NCEF is composed of a number of retired, high-ranking leaders from civil and military occupations, including former Defence Minister Theophilus Danjuma.
The group said its warning about the threat of jihad, in a previous release in July, had been ignored, and that Nigeria is moving “dangerously close to a national ‘red line’, where Truth is criminalised as ‘hate speech'”
“Under the present administration, every key and sensitive position in National Security is held by Muslims from the north, in outright violation of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution,” it said.
“There is a deliberate attempt to emasculate Christians, southerners and other non-Muslim population[s] of Nigeria verifiably by intimidation and force,” it added, calling it a “stealth jihad”.
The group also denounced the government’s failure to curb the violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
“Fulani herdsmen operate with impunity in mostly Christian areas, killing, maiming, raping, and destroying without any arrest, without any prosecution,” NCEF said.
“If this is not complicity of the Muslim-dominated security services, are we then to conclude that the Nigerian security units are so incompetent that they cannot successfully engage insurgents after the Nigerian Army successfully prosecuted a Civil War?”
Many experts on Nigeria now believe that violence across the Middle Belt, which World Watch Monitor has reported on at length, has been responsible for more deaths than Boko Haram.
According to Professor Yusufu Turaki, Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion, Church and Society at Jos ECWA Theological Seminary, there is a “vibrant and active revivalist Islamism” in northern Nigeria, which he blamed for the radicalisation of Boko Haram members and many Fulani herdsmen.