President Donald Trump has vowed to work “very, very hard” to stop the mass killings of Nigerian Christians. This comes as he meets with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House this week.
In a candid press conference, Trump addressed the mass kidnapping of Christian schoolgirls at the hands of Islamist militant group Boko Haram and called an end to the slaughtering of Christians at the hands of Islamist fanatics. The president said he was moved by the inspiring stories of two rescued girls that he had met personally.
Trump asserted his desire to combat human trafficking and jihadist terrorism at home and abroad; he cited strict immigration laws, and urged Congress to close the “deadly immigration loopholes exploited by terrorists, traffickers and criminals.” When it came to the plight of Christians in war-torn Nigeria, Trump did not mince his words while in the presence of the country’s president.
“We’ve had very serious problems with Christians who are murdered, killed in Nigeria,” Trump said as he sat with Buhari in the Oval Office, before adding that “we can’t allow that to happen.”
The president emphasized the same point at a joint press conference held in the Rose Garden:
“We are deeply concerned by religious violence in Nigeria including the burning of churches and the killing and persecution of Christians. It’s a horrible story. We encourage Nigeria to do everything in their power to immediately secure the affected communities and to protect innocent civilians of all faiths.” he explained.
He then issued a word directly to the Nigerian leader: “We encourage Nigeria and the federal state and local leaders to do everything in their power to immediately secure the affected communities and to protect innocent civilians of all faiths including Muslims and including Christians.”
“We have very much decimated ISIS,” said Trump,” as reported by CBS News. “But Boko Haram has been terrible.”
Hundreds of Christians have died this year from attacks from both the militants and the ruthless Islamist Fulani Herdsmen, Just last week, two separate attacks claimed the lives of 19 and 39 people respectively.
Many Church leaders are growing increasingly frustrated by Buhari’s inaction with regards to the mounting violence against Christians. A statement from Nigeria’s Catholic Bishops Conference even urged the Nigerian President to resign. “Whether this failure is due to inability to perform or lack of political will, it is time for him to choose the part of honor and consider stepping aside to save the nation from total collapse.’ It also called on Nigerians to arm themselves for self-defense,” the statement read, as reported by Christian Today.
The Methodist Church of Nigeria has also called upon Buhari to ramp up combative measures against the Fulani herdsmen, urging the Muslim leader to label them terrorists. The Methodist’s said that the militants had “graduated from carrying bows and arrows to sophisticated weapons, including AK-47 assault rifles which they deploy against host communities across the country.”
Many Nigerian Christians took to the streets Saturday in protest against the government’s unwillingness to protect their religious community.
“We are here today to register our displeasure to the on going killings across the country. We want to say Christians in the country are not second class citizens. We will not allow these killings,” Rev. John Ayo Oladapo of the Christian Association of Nigeria told Vanguard.
But Buhari insisted that it was the toppled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi who was to blame for the arming of the Fulani herdsmen.
He said, “The problem of cattle herders is a very long historical problem. Before now, Nigerian herders were known to carry sticks and machetes and cut follies for their animals, but these ones are carrying AK-47.”
“So I don’t think we should underrate Libya. During the 43 years of Gaddafi, people were recruited from Sahel and trained to shoot and kill. With the demise of Ghaddafi, they (recruited persons) moved from their country and their region with their training and their weapons and that is what aggravated the situation.”
“We are doing our best to stop the cross-border movement, but it will take time,” he added. “We are happy with the effort of the United States to see the end of ISIS. This has helped us a lot because the Boko Haram in Nigeria had one time made a statement that they belong to ISIS.”
“Nigeria is a valued partner and a good friend. I look forward to working closely with you,” said President Trump. “The United States is committed to working alongside Nigeria as we seek a future of strength, prosperity and peace for both of our countries.”
(H/T: CBS News)