WASHINGTON — A Nigerian Catholic priest is calling on the Biden administration to designate Nigeria as a terrorist state in light of the ongoing “jihad” against Christians.
Father Ambrose Ekereku, a Catholic priest from Nigeria, addressed the hostility to Christianity that has come to define his country in a speech at the fourth annual International Religious Freedom Summit on Tuesday. His remarks came during a breakout session discussing violations of religious freedom in the West African nation, Ukraine and Armenia.
Explaining that the Fulani migrated to Nigeria from Senegal and Mauritania in the 19th century, Ekereku noted that “Islamic conquests” brought them to the country. While the Fulani established an Islamic caliphate that lasted for about 90 years, Ekereku told the audience of religious freedom advocates that “the British colonial masters interrupted the conquests that [were] going on.”
According to Ekereku, when Nigeria declared independence from Great Britain, “the British handed Nigeria back to them. Now, they have continued that jihad. … That’s what is going on.”
“This thing is not new,” he reiterated. “What is going on now is not new.”
Suggesting that the government has failed to effectively respond as “Nigerians are being kidnapped, raped, maimed and butchered by these terrorists,” Ekereku warned that “it’s not going to stop unless the international community comes to our aid.” He described Nigerians as “helpless” because “Christians don’t know where to go.”
Ekereku vehemently denounced the claim touted by some leaders that climate change is causing the Fulani to target and massacre Christians: “It is not. It is jihad that is going on. It is not farmer-herder clashes.”
Some prominent Christian leaders who have spoken out against the Fulani attacks, such as Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, have suggested that international efforts need to tackle the harmful effects of climate change, which he accused of “exacerbating ancient rivalries.”
“Even the Church is not able to speak as it should because if … I said what I’m saying now in the pulpit in Nigeria, they would come for me the next moment,” he lamented. “They would kill me.”