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Why Christians need to know and pray for the Igbos in Nigeria

A Christian family mourn three relatives killed by armed Fulani herdsmen in Jos, Plateau state, Nigeria, in December 2011.
A Christian family mourn three relatives killed by armed Fulani herdsmen in Jos, Plateau state, Nigeria, in December 2011. | Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

The Igbo nation whose origin has been traced to the Jews has been in bondage since the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914.  They have been marginalized, enslaved, and murdered in large numbers for no just cause but simply because they are Christians. They were the victims of the Nigerian civil war.

The Nigerian civil war took place between the government of Nigeria headed by General Yakubu Gowon and the secessionist state of Biafra, led by Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu from July 6, 1967 to January 15, 1970.  Biafra represented the nationalist aspirations of the Igbo people, whose leadership felt they could no longer coexist with the northern-dominated federal government. The conflict resulted from political, economic, ethnic, cultural, and religious tensions that led to the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people of Igbos.

The origin of the Igbos can be traced to Israel.  Eri was the ancestral father of the Igbos who is also the fifth son of Gad, the seventh son of Jacob (Genesis 46: 15-18, Numbers 26:16-18). Many communities in Igbo land derived their names from this ancestral father. To believe that the Igbos are one of the lost tribes of Israel sounds ridiculous to some people, but upon factual evidence, one might pause to consider the veracity of this claim. Apart from the story of how the Igbos came into being, there are other similarities between them and the biblical Israelites. For example, they also celebrate the new moon, circumcision on the eighth day, mourning the dead for seven days, and many more.

The first attempt of the Igbos to leave was met with stiff resistance by the Nigerian government. Some Igbos believe that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu — the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) — is the Moses of the Igbos of this generation. They are claiming that God has sent him to tell the present-day pharaoh of Nigeria “let my people go.”

At a meeting in Abia State in January 2021, leaders of the Southeast unanimously expressed dismay that the Igbos’ region had continuously been denied the presidency. They said that there was no better time to actualize the Igbo presidency than 2023. The ruling party — the All Progressive Congress — plans to organize its presidential primary soon and everyone knows where the presidential flag bearer will come from.

Christians are disgusted with what is happening in Nigeria and are demanding equity and justice. Some say that Nigeria, as a nation, is a marriage of so many strange bedfellows who were forcefully married by colonial masters with the hope that one day unity in diversity might be achieved. Unfortunately, this “marriage” has collapsed due to the opposition of those who think that they are born to rule while others are born to be enslaved.

The Igbo tribe has committed no crime. Its only alleged crime is being predominantly Christian. Its Jewish character and culture have made it the envy of other tribes. Antisemitism has to a large extent been extended to the Igbo nation, and this has manifested in police brutality and a military invasion of the southeastern part of Nigeria. 

Recently, the prelate of the Nigerian Methodist Church, His Eminence Samuel Uche, has reported that the Fulani herdsmen who kidnapped him said they were aiming to take over Igbo land.  Uche spoke at a press conference held at a Methodist church on May 31, saying, “They told us that after buying enough weapons, they were going to bring all those people that were driven away from Zamfara, Katsina, Sambisa Forest, that they are all coming to locate themselves in Igbo land and deal with us.”

This "lost tribe of Israel" is not only facing marginalization. There is an active ethnic cleansing agenda planned against them. I passionately ask that intercession be made on their behalf by Christians all over the world. God who delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians; He can do likewise for the Igbos.  

Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. His calling is to take the gospel to where no one has neither preached nor heard about Jesus. He is the author of the book Mystery Of The Cross Revealed.  

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