By: Diana Chandler for Baptist Press
NORTHERN NIGERIA (BP) — A declaration of a state of emergency in three northern Nigerian states does nothing to address the root cause of a surge in Islamic terrorism against Christians and others, an expert in Islamism told Baptist Press.
Further, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s May 14 declaration is only a partial state of emergency because local governments in the northeastern states are still in place, said Adeniyi Ojutiku, a native Nigerian Christian and founder of Lift Up Now, a Christian nonprofit outreach to improve living conditions in his homeland.
“Nigeria is the number one country where Christians are killed. Nigeria tops that list,” Ojutiku said. “And it’s an ideological warfare. It’s a coup d’état. [Jonathan] wants to stem the tide of violence without really addressing the basic factors that are associated with Islamism.
“What Jonathan did is an immediate measure that is only palliative. It’s really not addressing the fundamental issues of Islamic terrorism,” Ojutiku said. “What Jonathan has done is a show of brute force, state force.
“Unfortunately, what is going to happen is that these people are going to retreat for a while. They are going to regroup and restrategize.”
Within an hour of the state of emergency declaration, gunmen killed Faye Pama Musa, leader of the chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the state of Borno, following him home from the evening Bible study he led at his church, Morning Star News reported.
Last year, more than 900 Christians were killed in Nigeria because of their faith, accounting for more than 70 percent of Christians killed globally, and outpacing Christian casualties in Pakistan, Syria, Kenya and Egypt combined, according to Morning Star News.
In northern Nigeria, Ombatse militants May 7 stormed a prison in Nasarawa, killing 50 police officers and civilians, the Wall Street Journal reported, describing the Ombatse as extremists seeking to convert both Christians and Muslims to a quasi-religious organization. The Nasawara raid occurred on the same day Islamic extremists killed another 50 people in Bama, according to the Journal and Reuters news service.
Dozens of insurgents killed 53 people and burned 13 villages in central Nigeria’s Benue state May 14, BBC News reported.
Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group whose name translates “Western education is forbidden,” has focused particularly on killing Christians in the northern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, where Jonathan declared the state of emergency and sent troops to stop the violence. Boko Haram is blamed for killing more than 4,000 people since 2009.
Jonathan has been ineffective in battling Islamism, Ojutiku said, leading to the formation of other terrorists groups in Nigeria.
“For example, we know what the Islamists want. They want to Islamize Nigeria by all means, including violence, through legislative processes involving the establishment of a sharia federal system. That is their goal and they will not compromise,” Ojutiku said. “Because Jonathan has been unable to deal with Islamic insurgency, Islamic terrorism, other terrorist groups are rising up … and are now posing a serious threat to the security situation in Nigeria. But we still at this point in time don’t know the connection between these new groups and the Boko Haram. It’s difficult to know the connection.”
Under the Nigerian president’s declared state of emergency, Ojutiku told Baptist Press, “the government is still in place in the state. The governor is still the chief executive officer of the state. The legislative branch is still there. The judicial branch is still there. So nothing has changed in terms of government functionaries.
“What has only changed is the security, the improvement of the security situation, and that … is only temporary and it is, what I would consider, too little, too late.”
Ojutiku, who moved to the U.S. nearly 30 years ago, co-founded Lift Up Now in Nigeria to address political, economic and social challenges such as poverty, hunger, disease, war, religious extremism and terrorism. He works with a small core group in the U.S., managing a team of what he estimated as 2,500 volunteers in Nigeria, mainly Christian youth leaders available for mobilization as needed.
“Our goal is to work with the people in restoring their individual self-dignity and worth through improved work ethics as well as personal efforts at sustainable wealth creation,” Ojutiku said, “rather than continued reliance on dehumanizing welfare and ‘hand-outs.'”
He and his wife Elizabeth are longtime members of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.