Nigerian church leaders met with President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this month, but condemned the “evil” massacre of Christians and the falsehoods surrounding it.
Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria, said that he delivered a report to Buhari on November 6, describing the killing of 646 Christians in Plateau state alone between March and October of this year.
“The devastation in terms of massacre of lives and destruction of property is unimaginable. Pastors and members in their thousands have been killed in cold blood, either shot dead or slaughtered like animals or burned to death. Houses and businesses have been burned or looted and farmlands have been destroyed,” he said, speaking of the years of suffering the church has suffered.
Thousands of other Christians have been massacred in the country since the start of 2018, prompting ongoing outcry from watchdog groups, demanding that the Nigerian government do more to protect citizens.
“The narrative has been that these people are killed by unknown gunmen, or suspected herdsmen, or that there have been farmer-herders clashes,” Datiri said in his report, as shared by Morning Star News.
“All these are deceptive narratives deliberately framed to conceal the truth and continue to perpetrate the evil.”
“After the attacks, it is the Fulani herders that settle and graze their cattle on the farms of the victims,” he continued.
“The proficiency and mode of operation in all of these attacks, as testified by the surviving victims, leaves us in no doubt of the complicity of the military being used as hired mercenaries by the Fulani militias. On this, we are disappointed, and sadly so, that the government has not delivered on her constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property.”
As evidence he pointed to the heavily armed militants with sophisticated guns, including AK-47's, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades, that have been killing Christians.
A very similar point was made in August by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman of the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, who told The Christian Post that the government and many news organizations are spreading such a false narrative.
Umeagbalasi told CP at the time that all the evidence, including the great disproportion in the number of Christians killed, and reports of churches being converted for Islamic purposes, show that the thousands of deaths are not simply the result of farmer-Fulani hersdsmen clashes.
"How many Muslim farmers are being killed by Fulani herdsmen? How many Muslim homes have been destroyed or burned? The answer is in the negative. It has nothing to do with herdsmen-farmer clashes. It is false," he added.
"We don't like to use the [term] 'Fulani herdsmen', we like to use 'Fulani jihadists,' who are under the guise of herdsmen."
In his statement to Buhari, Datiri further pointed out that as many as 38,000 Christians were forced to flee to camps for displaced people, with 30 church buildings and 4,436 Christian homes destroyed in the state, all in the space of half a year.
The Church of Christ in Nigeria president accused Nigerian military forces of not only failing to contain the radicals, but of being complicit in some of the attacks.
“Are we to believe that the armed forces sent to keep peace go with the instructions to protect them?” he asked. “The implication is that they protect the aggressors and leave the victims mercilessly helpless.”
On his part, Buhari did not dispute the statistics of violence in Plateau state, but said that the different communities must live together in harmony.
“It is not all Muslims that are against Christians, and neither are all Christians against Muslims,” the president said. “In our security arrangement, the police are in the frontline in making sure that communities irrespective of ethnic or religious bias live together in peace.”