By Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja
The Christian Association of Nigerian -Americans (CANAN) has renewed its call to the American government to designate the dreaded Islamic sect Boko-Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO).
CANAN in a statement yesterday in Washington, urged the US Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry to update and review its decision on the matter.
"With the assumption of office of a new Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry, the US government should update and review its policy decisions on the matter," CANAN said.
The group also urged United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to make its concern concrete by including a recommendation to the US State Department to designate Boko-Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation.
According the press release by CANAN's Executive Director, Laolu Akande, the group said designating Boko Haram an FTO was the most logical next step, in view of the current situation in Nigeria and USCIRF's advisory role to the US Government.
Apparently reacting to recent report by USCIRF that the Nigerian government has not been prosecuting perpetrators of religious violence, CANAN wants the commission to make concrete recommendation to the US government on the matter.
According to CANAN, several US departments, including the FBI, Justice Department and several US Congressmen have called for the designation of Boko-Haram as an FTO. It said the State Department, which was empowered by the US government to make such a decision refused to do so.
The US government had last year labelled three leaders of the Islamic sect as global terrorists.
The group also decried ongoing attacks and retaliation by Muslims and Christians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt area, criticising the government for absence of meaningful prosecution of culprits.
"CANAN and the other US groups, including Justice for Jos, Jubilee Campaign, Institute for Religion and Democracy, Westminster Institute, among others commends the statement of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), The data is clear that Christian villages have overwhelmingly been targets of multiple midnight massacres; 36 in 2012 alone, resulting in hundreds of deaths of Christians in the last couple of years," he said.
The statement explained that what had been deemed a reprisal attack by the Commission was an uncoordinated defensive action forced by the failure of the Nigerian government to provide security of lives and property.
"The rare instances where villagers were able to engage in defensive action in a context of state security failure have been broadly termed 'reprisal attacks' without acknowledging that Christians have exclusively been at the receiving end of systematic genocide in Plateau State of Nigeria."
According to CANAN, Boko Haram has unequivocally stated its goal is to exterminate Christians in the north and impose Islamic rule in Nigeria. It has consistently bombed churches and killed Christians to this end, with occasional collateral damage to or targeted assassination of Muslim critics.
The group added that USCIRF under-counts the number of churches attacked in 2012, even though available data shows that more Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2012 than were killed in the rest of the world.
CANAN however called on commission to be alive to its responsibility, on making true representation of the situation in Nigeria.
"It is hoped that USCIRF which has generally fared better in fulfilling its statutory reporting requirements than the State Department is not regressing following last year's reorganisation of the commission."