GBOKO, JULY 3, 2018 (CISA)-Bishop William Avenya of the diocese of Gboko in Nigeria has warned of the threat of genocide against Christians in the country’s Middle Belt region, describing an upsurge of violence by militant Fulani herdsmen as, “ethnic cleansing”.
Bishop Avenya said aid is needed to stop the persecution of Christians. So far this year, 492 people have been reported dead in the state of Benue, where majority of the population are Christian.
“Don’t wait for the genocide to happen before intervening… Please don’t make the same mistake as was made with the genocide in Rwanda. It happened beneath our noses, but no one stopped it. And we know well how that ended,” he told Aid to the Church in Need in an appeal to the international community.
According to local reports, on Wednesday June 27, extremists killed more than 200 people in ten mainly Christian populated communities near the city of Jos, although police reported only 86 fatalities.
Bishop Avenya in his interview with ACN said, “They are criminals and terrorists, but they do not do the same things in the majority Muslim areas. We are convinced that what is happening is an ethnic cleansing of Christians.”
His comments come after other senior Church figures from the region: Bishop Peter Adoboh of Katsina-Ala, Bishop Wilfred Anagbe of Makurdi and Bishop Matthew Audu of Lafia, described the militant Fulani campaign as a, “clear agenda of Islamising the Nigerian Middle Belt”.
Between May 2016 and September 2017, as many as 725 people have died in violence in the Middle Belt’s southern Kaduna region 98 percent of them Christians, this is according to research by Christian persecution charity Open Doors.
Bishop Avenya described Nigeria-wide peace demonstrations on 22nd May and called on the West to save lives in the country, saying: “Our faithful are being murdered or forced to live as refugees as a result of the violence and the West continues to view the matter of the Fulani as merely an internal problem.”
His comments come after the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) issued a statement calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to consider resigning for alleged inaction in response to what the CBCN called, “the killing fields and mass graveyard that our country has become”.