New Report Shows Religious Dynamics in Nigeria’s Ongoing Violence

March 3, 2023

Paul Marshall, Director of RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, recently authored an article for Providence titled, “New Report Shows Religious Dynamics in Nigeria’s Ongoing Violence.” Marshall writes:

As Nigeria, by far Africa’s most populous country, headed into its February 25, 2023, Presidential election, the Biden Administration continued its almost inexplicable policy of downplaying both the ongoing rampant slaughter there and the religious dynamics behind it. A new report shows both how grave the situation is and how specious the Administration’s positions are.

As I have previously noted, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rev. Johnnie Moore reported that the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, denied the religious nature of the conflicts, claiming instead they are ‘fundamentally a resource issue…’ In her July 17, 2019, confirmation hearing, Ambassador Leonard referred to the carnage in the Middle Belt of Nigeria as ‘banditry and inter-communal conflict’ and ‘escalating farmer-herder and inter-communal conflict frequently based in resource competition…

In the face of religiously shaped violence in which annually thousands of people were being killed and abducted at the hands of Boko Haram, ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province), and radicalized Fulani tribesmen, in December 2020, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, following the advice of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, designated Nigeria a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for religious freedom. Yet, less than a year later, in November 2021, without any explanation, the Biden administration unexpectedly removed Nigeria’s CPC designation. 

Subsequently, there has been a campaign to restore the CPC status. On January 31 of this year, Congressman Chris Smith introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to this effect, with bipartisan support. In response, on February 7th a State Department spokesperson said that ‘after careful review‘ Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has decided not to put Nigeria back on a list of offenders of religious liberty.

Read the full article: “New Report Shows Religious Dynamics in Nigeria’s Ongoing Violence.”