Alternative By Reno Omokri
On February 4, 2017, it was reported that the Congress of the United States had cited Nigeria as the worst place in the world to be a Christian.
Buhari’s minister of information, the aptly named Lai Mohammed, denied that this was the case and raved and raged against the US Congress’ report.
But was the US Congress lying?
The Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa, a Nigeria (EYN), which is English for the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, is one of the oldest Christian denominations in Northern Nigeria.
EYN is the largest national congregation of the Church of the Brethren in the world, but not for much longer. Their buildings are being destroyed and their members are being killed, and these killings are being suppressed in the media by the Buhari administration.
According to documentary evidence provided by Reverend Joel Billi, who is the head of the EYN denomination in Nigeria, 700,000 members of their congregation have been displaced, while many pastors and over 8,370 lay people have been killed.
This is just one denomination. Other denominations that operate in Northern Nigeria, such as the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), have their own tales of woe.
And who can they turn to for help? No matter what you might think about the Trump administration, at least that regime was concerned about the plight of Nigeria’s Christians.
On April 30, 2018, President Trump confronted Buhari privately and openly before the press on Nigeria’s mistreatment of Christians and asked him to do something about it.
Not satisfied by the Buhari government’s actions, the Trump administration placed Nigeria on a blacklist of countries that impugn religious freedoms, with then Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, tweeting as follows:
“Today the U.S. designates Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, the DPRK, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as countries of concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for engaging systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations.”
But since the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the Buhari administration appears to have been emboldened to continue in its policies that impugn religious freedoms, because of the body language of the newly minted US President.
Look at the way the Nigerian Presidency came hard on Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, over his Christmas homily. They even coordinated with Islamic groups that incited violence against Bishop Kukah.
And what does America, a nation that was founded by European pilgrims, as a beacon for religious freedoms, do?
One question that troubles me today is why US President Joe Biden is so much more concerned about the rights of the LGBTQ community in Nigeria, but less about Christian rights? Christians are more endangered in Nigeria. Tens of thousands of Nigerian Christians have been killed for their Christianity. How many gays have been killed for their homosexuality?
Thousands of churches have been firebombed, burnt, demolished or otherwise taken over. I do not think I have ever read that a gay club has ever suffered such a fate in Nigeria.
So, again, why is Biden more concerned about the LGBTQ community than the Christian community?
I read President Biden’s Executive Order “on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World”. What about an Executive Order to protect Christians. Come to Nigeria and see who is suffering between Gays and Christians!
This week marks the third anniversary of the abduction of Leah Sharibu. The Trump administration was concerned with Leah’s fate, and I sincerely hope the Biden administration will show some concern for Leah.
On February 19, 2018, radical Islamic Terrorists of the Boko Haram sect abducted 110 girls from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe, in Nigeria
5 girls died on the day of their abduction, while all others were released in March 2018 except the lone Christian girl Leah Sharibu as she refused to abandon her faith and convert to Islam.
I, Reno Omokri, have been to 35 nations campaigning for her release, and urge you to join the effort by following the hashtag #FreeLeahSharibu.
I have not collected a dime from any country, foundation, church or mosque. The Free Leah Sharibu campaign is something I was inspired to do after listening to her mother speak to me and tell me about her pain.
Yet, despite my efforts, the Buhari administration has directly and indirectly falsely accused me of making money from this campaign. On December 23, 2020, President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, described Leah as an “unfortunate Christian” girl and accused me, falsely I might add, of making money from my efforts.
I challenged and still challenge that notorious liar, Garba Shehu, to prove his allegations. It is so sad, because it is obvious that an administration that can make such a wicked statement would not lift a finger to help Leah. So, it is up to us.
We must stand in the gap. We, as Nigerian citizens, must rise up and demand that Boko Haram free Leah. I hate to say this, but would the Buhari administration be so cavalier about Leah Sharibu if she were a Muslim? In proof of this, I present the leaked audio call by a Katsina official stating that the government paid a ransom for the release of the over 300 male students abducted by bandits on December 11, 2020 at Kankara.
Nigerians may want to note how Buhari personally and publicly led the struggle to free Zainab Aliyu, a Muslim girl who was arrested in Saudi Arabia, after the drug, Tramadol, was found in her possession. Consider the speed at which a normally sluggish Presidency acted when Zainab was in trouble.
Buhari has not shown that level of speed or commitment to Leah’s cause. I wonder why? Is it because they consider her an “unfortunate Christian girl?”
Other than being a Christian, what is Leah’s crime in the eye of the Buhari government? Her father is a policeman, who has served and continues to serve the Nigerian state. Why were the Kankara boys worthy of release, after paying a king’s ransom, while Leah continues to languish in Boko Haram’s custody, even when the Buhari administration has repeatedly boasted of their “back channels” link to Boko Haram?
Leah Sharibu has all but been forgotten by the Buhari government. The only time they remember her is when they want to make false allegations against me of profiting from the #FreeLeahSharibu campaign. It is so sad that a girl whose only crime is that she refused to abandon Christ has been abandoned by a government that refused to abandon crisis!
But as much as they want Leah to be swept under the carpet, we will continue to sweep her out of the carpet and back into reckoning. And I will not go away until Leah Sharibu is freed.
A cow eats grass and gets fat but if a lion eats it, it won’t thrive. Never compare yourself with others. Run your race. What works for one person may kill you. Focus on the gifts God gave you and don’t be envious of the blessings He gave others. Always aspire to improve your situation. But that does not mean you should be discontented. Discontentment makes rich men feel poor and contentment makes poor men feel rich. Pursue money, but also pursue contentment. They are not mutually exclusive.