Two weeks ago, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, shocked the world by pulling down Nigeria — a popular harbour of religiously-motivated terrorist attacks — out from the list of global religious freedom violators. The dangerously reckless move by Blinken stood in stark defiance to the 108-paged 2021 report on international religious freedom submitted by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which designated Nigeria a “country of particular concern” — a shameful reputation the nation has refused to improve on since 2002.
Blinken’s last minute decision to remove Nigeria (alongside other well-known violators like India, Vietnam, and Syria) came on the hill of his interest-seeking visit to Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, who became recently indicted for the massacre of close to a dozen protesting civilians during the 2020 ENDSARS campaign.
A barrage of criticisms has so far met Blinken’s pronouncement, from local Christians and international Christian watchdogs, making it yet another Biden bad decision since his ill-fated withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which he left behind thousands of American citizens and vulnerable religious minorities to suffer in the terrorist-ridden nation.
Two fresh attacks against predominantly Christian villages which claimed the lives of a dozen Christian children in Plateau have now been recorded since Blinken’s visit, bringing the total death toll of Christians killed by Jihad terrorists to approximately 70,000 since the attacks first began two decades ago. John Eibner, the president of Christian Solidarity International, had this to say:
“Removing this largely symbolic sign of concern is a brazen denial of reality and indicates that the US intends to pursue its interests in Western Africa through an alliance with Nigeria’s security elite, at the expense of Christians and other victims of widespread sectarian violence, especially in the country’s predominantly Christian Middle Belt region.”
Blinken and Biden must retrace their steps and desist from sacrificing the blood of terrorized Christians on the threshold of its regional interests.