THE Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reiterated its call on the United States (US) Department of State to re-enlist Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), “for extreme violence against Christians”.
CAN was reacting to a report by the 2023 Open Doors World Watch List which said Nigeria accounts for 89 per cent of martyred Christians worldwide.
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In a statement sent to The ICIR on Monday, January, 23rd, CAN’s spokesperson, Luminous Jannamike, said the body had previously urged the US State Department to return Nigeria to the Special Watch List based on available evidence of Christian persecution in the country.
“This position has not changed”, he said.
Nigeria had joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan on the US Department CPC list in 2020.
But the administration of President Joe Biden removed the Nigeria from the religious persecution list in 2021.
The CPC list names and shames governments which have “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom”.
Responding to questions raised by The ICIR, CAN spokesman Jannamike said: “No doubt, Nigeria is facing security challenges that can trigger a vast humanitarian crisis in the future, if not tackled comprehensively today.
“CAN has been persistent in the call for Nigeria’s government to rise to the occasion and protect the rights of all citizens, including Christians from undue violations carried out with impunity.
“For this reason, the apex Christian body under the leadership of Archbishop Daniel Okoh has committed to fostering genuine unity, building true peace and promoting honest tolerance among people of all faith in the country.”
Meanwhile, a new report by SBM Intelligence said at least 39 Catholic priests were killed by gunmen and 30 others abducted in 2022.
The report titled; “Attacks on Priests” released by the research outfit on Monday, January 23, said there were 145 attacks on Catholic priests last year.
Parts of the report read; “2022 was an awful year for the clergy. None in that group suffered more than Catholic priests, who at a point, were subjected to near-daily abductions with ransom demands set at an average of N50 million per priest.
“Although there were quite genuine fears that these abductions were targeted persecution of the Christian faith, the financial imperative in a holy abduction has somewhat eclipsed such concerns.”
Sinafi Omanga is a journalist with The ICIR. His Twitter handle is @OmangaSinafi and Email: firstname.lastname@example.org