NFL Star Benjamin Watson to Speak Out Against
Religious Persecution, Slaughter in Nigeria
On September 16th, NFL Star Benjamin Watson, Rep. Chris Smith, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Rep. Frank Wolf and John Stonestreet, will condemn the religious persecution and slaughter taking place in Nigeria at an awareness event. More than 90,000 innocent lives – mainly women and children – have been lost as a result of terrorist attacks throughout Nigeria since 2000, including 60,000 killed by Boko Haram and Fulani Militants in the country’s Middle Belt region. Meanwhile, the Nigerian government has done little – if anything – to stop the killings.
Watson, who co-founded a nonprofit dedicated to impacting the lives of those in need with his wife in 2008, has spoken out against Nigeria’s silent slaughter in the past, telling his vast social media following, “We cannot continue to be silent” and imploring President Trump to appoint a special envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.
The event will be open to the public with time for questions. Details are as follows:
- Benjamin Watson – former New England Patriot
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI)
- John Stonestreet – President, The Colson Center
- Rep. Frank Wolf (Rtd)
Wednesday, September 16 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (US)
- Livestreaming on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube.
- (Contact us if you want to be a part of the special broadcast via Zoom).
Last month, we launched our newest campaign called Hear Their Voices. This campaign places attention on the tragic Silent Slaughter of innocent individuals in remote places and villages within Nigeria.
This 8-week campaign is a way for ICON to bring attention and focus to the effects of terrorism on women and children throughout the country. After the brutal attacks and killings of husbands and fathers, these individuals are left to fend for themselves with little to no support from the government.
Throughout the campaign, we have been posting articles, quotes, videos, and facts which bring much-needed light to the darkness these women and children have been forced to live in. Please help us by joining in the conversation and supporting those who are under a burden far too heavy for them to bear alone.
To further elevate the Hear Their Voice campaign, we hope you have been able to view our ongoing videocast, ‘One On One with Ann & Priscilla’, which is streamed live on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube every Tuesday at 12 pm ET.
Every week, Ann and Priscilla have been hearing and discussing stories from victims of the Nigerian crisis. These stories bring concerned individuals such as yourself real-life accounts of how these victims are affected by the many issues in their towns and communities.
Thus far, the three victims we have heard from have told stories of difficulty and hurt, yet also of hope and anticipation for something better. Every Tuesday we hear from survivors and how they support one another in their pain, about the heavy responsibilities placed on mothers who lose their partners, how women and children are left to process trauma, and how children are forced to grow up far too quickly. Although these testimonies are difficult to listen to, we find great joy in giving these victims a hope to cling to in knowing there are people like you who desire to help.
We encourage you to follow and share the stories and support the families who have been heavily persecuted and affected by this genocide. A one-time or reoccurring donation goes a long way.
Please help us make a difference in the lives of these women and children by contributing today: https://iconhelp.org/hear-their-voices/
ICON Demands Accountability After Terrorists Implicate Nigerian Government; Reveal Next Phase is Civil War
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 12, 2020 The International Committee on Nigeria (ICON), a nonprofit working to secure a future for all Nigerians, is demanding accountability after it was revealed for the first time publicly that a Northern Nigeria governor is commanding Boko Haram. In a live interview, former deputy governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank Dr. Obadiah Mailafia said repentant terrorists told him this directly. He also said now that terrorists have infiltrated Southern Nigeria, their plan is to start a civil war by the year 2022 and that the Buhari Administration is complicit. Since going public with this knowledge, Dr. Mailafia was brought in for questioning by the Department of State Services (DSS) to discuss specific details, including sharing the name of the Boko Haram commander. “For far too long, there has been great darkness in Nigeria where people of faith face persecution and daily violence that most of us cannot even begin to comprehend – and no one should have to endure,” said Stephen Enada, co-founder of ICON. “By refusing to hold perpetrators accountable, the government has failed its people over and over again. Today, that needs to stop. Dr. Mailafia has given the name of one of the highest-profile perpetrators to the government, and we expect swift action to follow.” Last month, ICON released a new report proving ongoing religious persecution and genocide in Nigeria. The report shows more than 90,000 innocent people have been killed between 2000 and 2020 – mainly women and children. Names of victims have been logged, but the names of perpetrators have been largely unknown. “We commend Dr. Mailafia for coming forward and encourage others with information on perpetrators to come forward as well,” continued Enada. “The Nigerian government has an opportunity here and should remember that the world is watching. They need to act on this intelligence and our government needs to prioritize discussions on sending a special envoy,” said Kyle Abts, co-founder of ICON. “Innocent Nigerian people have been dying in droves, for too long. At the end of the day, the people responsible for these crimes must be held accountable and the killing must stop.” According to ICON’s incidence tracker, more than 2,500 have been brutally killed already this year. Yet, the Nigerian government has done nothing. This should greatly concern the United States and other Western nations. Nigeria is the lynchpin of regional stability and a strategic partner with the U.S. in the struggle against extremism. Swift and precise policy decisions from the U.S., in partnership with Nigerian civil society, can have profound stabilizing effects. On the reverse, a destabilized Nigeria will have negative impacts on the region, and around the world. “We must act now to move toward a peaceful, unified Nigeria and to prevent another African genocide,” Abts continued. “We need a special envoy and the terrorists committing these crimes need to be held accountable.”
Click here to view ICON’s message of support for Dr. Mailafia, pictured above, addressing select media executives in the DSS Office Jos, flanked by Akubu SAN, Yakubu Bawa Esq, and his wife Mrs Margaret Vou Mailafia.
ICON’s Data Tome Shows Nigeria is a Ticking Time Bomb; ICON Argues That if Nigeria Implodes, So Goes the Whole of Africa; Western Intervention is Needed Now
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 28, 2020 – The International Committee on Nigeria (ICON), a nonprofit working to secure a future for all Nigerians, launched a new Data Tome (“report”) today proving the religious persecution and genocide that has been occurring in Nigeria over the last 20 years. The report includes recent testimonies of some of the more than 60,000 victims in Nigeria, including statements from witnesses who have been targeted specifically for their Christian faith, among a comprehensive collection of other data and statistics.
In a video teleconference call, ICON’s co-founder Kyle Abts introduced the report, entitled “Nigeria’s Silent Slaughter: Genocide in Nigeria and the Implications for the International Community,” saying, “The firsthand accounts of the ongoing religious persecution and genocide are shocking and cannot be tolerated. While the country’s own government has failed to stop the violence, Nigeria has been transformed into an epicenter of terrorist activities and a ticking time bomb. This report shows us that action is needed now and intervention by the United States is critical.”
Using data from January 1, 2000 to January 31, 2020, ICON’s report exposes how one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups, Boko Haram, has killed more than 43,000 Nigerians, the vast majority women and children. Additionally, it raises awareness of the continuing onslaught by Fulani Militants, who have killed nearly 19,000 Nigerians, primarily Christian farmers. Based on data collected, between 2000-2019, deaths resulting from Fulani Militant attacks include 17,284 across the country, 13,079 in predominantly Christian states (Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, and Taraba). That means three of every four Fulani Militant victims during this time were Christians.
The Nigerian government claims to be “on top of the situation,” but terrorist attacks continue to ravage different parts of the country, and perpetrators appear more emboldened by the government’s complacency.
“The ongoing violence and brutality perpetrated against innocent Nigerians by Islamist terrorists like Boko Haram and Fulani Militants has to stop; it’s that simple,” stated ICON co-founder, Stephen Enada. “President Buhari and his administration are attempting to dictate the narrative and condition the world, really, to believe that Nigeria’s Christians are safe from terrorism, which is simply untrue, as our report verifies. A U.S. Special Envoy is key to turning things around in Nigeria.”
Fulani Militants Deaths 2000-2019
ICON has been advocating for the U.S. to send a Special Envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region for several years. Earlier this year, the organization partnered with the International Organization for Peace Building and Social Justice (PSJ) to launch the Silent Slaughter campaign. Silent Slaughter is a global campaign created to shine a light on the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria and advocate for peace. The goal is to engage global partners to hold President Buhari accountable.
Silent Slaughter supports a peaceful, unified Nigeria and believes unequivocally that sending a U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region is key to achieving this.
Others participating in today’s teleconference include Dr. Gregory Stanton, chairman and founding partner of Genocide Watch; Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom; Reverend Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and commissioner of USCIRF; and Former Congressman Frank Wolf.
“Nigeria’s Silent Slaughter” report has received praise from multiple political and religious individuals, proving the document’s validity. Endorsements for the document include the Family Research Council, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, Genocide Watch, International Christian Concern, members of Benue State Government, the U.K. Parliament, and more.
ICON IN THE NEWS:
ISWAP Executes 5 Nigerian Aid Workers in a Video Warning to Christians
Militants aligned with the Islamic State in Nigeria have executed five aid workers, declaring in a video posted online that the killings were meant as a warning to “all those being used by infidels to convert Muslims to Christianity.”
A new report published this week by the International Committee on Nigeria, a U.S.-based nonprofit working to secure a future for all Nigerians, includes testimonies of some of the over 60,000 victims of violence in Nigeria. The report features researched compiled and produced by the collaborative efforts of ICON and the International Organization on Peace-building & Social Justice
Mass Burials Common as Nigerians Face Daily Violence
Faith communities in Nigeria face daily violence and persecution, a U.S.-based rights group said. It called for U.S. intervention after a terrorist group executed five men abducted while providing assistance in northeastern Nigeria.
Perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Nigeria “appear more emboldened as the political will to professionally investigate the crimes and hold perpetrators accountable is grossly lacking,” the ICON report said.
Welcome to the first issue of Religious Freedom and Global Security News, a project of the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON).
COVID-19 has stopped the world in its tracks – and yet, religious persecution continues at an alarming rate. Last month, terrorists in Nigeria killed approx. 250 innocent people. That’s more than 8 people killed each day, on average, and far more than the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Nigeria, as of May 18.
This newsletter will report on what’s happening with respect to religious persecution – and what still needs to happen – to stop this trend and why.
In today’s issue:
- Religious Persecution Today / During COVID-19
- US Senator Charles Grassley Speaks Out / A Special Envoy to Nigeria
- USCIRF’s 2020 Annual Report
- The Global Impact of Genocide / A National Security Issue
- President Buhari Deceiving Nigerians and International Community
- Next Steps
Religious Persecution Today / During COVID-19
Long before COVID-19 became a household name, religious persecution had become a troubling reality, with increasingly tragic results worldwide. Torture, kidnapping, imprisonment, slavery, trafficking, and even death are among the issues running rampant as people of faith face seemingly endless attacks.
Studies by domestic international organizations have found that Christians are the most widely persecuted religious group in the world. According to a report by Open Doors USA, more than 260 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution.
Pew Research Center says that Nigeria is among the countries with the largest reported increase in religious violence by organized groups since 2007. The country is currently ranked the 12th worst in the world in terms of Christian persecution.
In December, the country was placed on the State Department’s “special watch list” of countries that tolerate or engage in severe violations of religious freedom.
Even as the world turns its collective attention toward stopping the spread of COVID-19, terrorists in Nigeria are not letting up. Instead, they are exploiting the crisis.
- On March 24, Boko Haram killed ninety-two Chadian soldiers in an ambush around the Lake Chad area; and
- At least forty-seven Nigerian soldiers died in northeastern Nigeria in an ambush by Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) fighters.
As governments shift military personnel to support the COVID-19 response, Nigeria will be even more vulnerable to these types of attacks.
To make matters worse, it’s being reported that Christians are receiving the leftovers of government aid – while Muslims receive greater relief support, especially in areas governed by Sharia law.
The senseless killing and discrimination of innocent Nigerian Christians must stop.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (gettyimages-10417463081)
U.S. Senator Charles Grassley Speaks Out / A Special Envoy to Nigeria
U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) is among those paying attention to the atrocities taking place in Nigeria. On May 13, he sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback saying, “I am concerned about a rise of communal violence in Nigeria that disproportionately affects Christians in the country, particularly in the Northeast and throughout the Middle Belt.”
In his letter, the Senator asks for information, including information about the appointment of a special envoy to Nigeria, to ensure “that Christians and other religious minorities in Africa’s most populous country are safe from persecution” which he says will prevent the further destabilization of the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel, and is consistent with our nation’s values and interests.
Senator Grassley’s support for a special envoy to Nigeria was good news for the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON). Leaders of the organization launched a global campaign to turn the eyes of the world to Nigeria’s “Silent Slaughter”.
They add their voices to the growing chorus advocating for action, and specifically – for a special envoy – that is gaining momentum.
On January 27, 2020, more than 140 non-government organizations, faith-based groups, policy experts, and others delivered an open letter to President Trump and his administration to continue to urge a U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region.
Calls for the envoy began months ago, with groups like ICON, Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), lending their voices to the cause. Their calls were heightened following news that Rev. Lawan Andimi was beheaded by Boko Haram after refusing to deny Christ. That same month, Pastor Denis Baguari of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, a well-known political advocate for Christians, was reportedly killed in a night attack; and the Islamic State released a video of an 8-year-old child soldier killing a Christian man in Nigeria and another showing the beheading of 10 Christian aid workers.
Tony Perkins (USCIRF Chairman) with Rebecca Sharibu (Leah’s mother)
USCIRF’s 2020 Annual Report
The ongoing atrocities in Nigeria are detailed in the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)’s just released 2020 Annual Report, which provides recommendations on U.S. foreign policy. The report is critical for two reasons:
- Nigeria is included as a “Country of Particular Concern” for its egregious violations of religious freedom; and
- Leah Sharibu, who has been in captivity for more than two years, is included as a Prisoner of Conscience
Among other things, the Nigeria report includes the individual views of Commissioners Gary L. Bauer and Johnnie Moore who state that, “it is our conviction that Boko Haram, and those tribesmen inspired by them, intend on ethnically cleansing Nigeria of any Christian it cannot subjugate while threatening everyone that stands in their way, whatever their religion or ethnicity.”
This confirms Nigeria is failing her citizens to provide freedom of religion and basic protection and confirm the need for action.
ICON released a statement on the report that Breitbart’s Thomas D. Williams, PhD, highlighted in a piece titled, Committee Calls for U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria to Stop the ‘Silent Slaughter’ of Christians:
“terrorist groups like Boko Haram have perpetrated ‘unspeakable violence’ against unarmed and undefended Christian communities over the past decade, and the persecution has gone from bad to worse, resulting in a “silent slaughter.”
“Tens of thousands of innocent lives have been lost, the vast majority of them women and children,” the group said. “Thousands of churches have been torched. Entire communities, villages, and towns have been devastated. Millions have been kidnapped or displaced from their homes following persecution.”
The Global Impact of Genocide / A National Security Issue
The need for action is critical.
While this genocide may seem worlds away, the effects are vast and far-reaching, and will be felt far into the future. If things go from bad to worse in Nigeria and the country implodes, the consequences will not be contained by the country’s borders. Indeed, there is very much at stake here.
Journalist John L. Allen, Jr recently said:
Nigeria is an emerging African superpower, it’s the largest oil producer in Africa with proven reserves of 37 million barrels (10th-largest in the world), and it’s also the country with the world’s largest mixed Muslim/Christian population. If things go bad, the consequences won’t be confined to Nigeria’s borders, but could spark economic, military and cultural upheaval around the world.
Sooner or later, the international community will be forced to recognize that the fate of Nigeria’s Christian population isn’t just a human rights issue – though it’s certainly that – but also a major global security concern.
Sadly, we’ve been here before.
When the United Nations was confronted with warnings of an impending genocide in Rwanda, experts did nothing effective. At least 800,000 people died as a result of the crisis.
Four years later, U.S. president Bill Clinton went to Rwanda to apologize for the U.S. government’s failure to act. He said in part:
The international community, together with nations in Africa, must bear its share of responsibility for this tragedy. We did not act quickly enough after the killing began.
We must not let history repeat itself. Action is needed in Nigeria now.
President Buhari Deceiving Nigerians and International Community
In case we need another reminder why swift action is critical in Nigeria, Christian teenager Leah Sharibu was kidnapped by Boko Haram during an attack on her school more than two years ago. More than 100 girls were taken along with Leah – and while five of the girls perished and the rest released through back-channel efforts, Leah remains in captivity. Although unconfirmed, it’s been reported that the devout Christian has been forced to accept Islam, marry a Boko Haram commander, and gave birth to a baby boy earlier this year.
This month, Leah celebrated her 17th birthday – the third birthday in captivity. While President Buhari has vowed to redouble efforts to save Leah and the other girls, Leah’s parents have recently said the Federal Government has been deceiving Nigerians and the international community with promises of rescuing Leah from captivity.
A spokesperson for the Sharibu family said, “It seems that the government simply wants to make Nigerians and the international community who demand the release of Leah to be quiet.”
Sadly, Leah’s story is not the only tragic one coming out of Nigeria. There are a number of girls still held captive from an April 2014 attack on a boarding school in Chibok and attacks are ongoing.
We need to bring Leah and all of the missing girls home.
Read more on Leah’s story here.
The Nigerian government has shown it will not take action on its own accord. The U.S. government must do everything in its power to help stop this crisis before it goes from bad to worse.
Stephen Enada (ICON President)
About the International Committee On Nigeria (ICON)
ICON is a consortium of Nigerians and other nationalities who have combined efforts to help Nigeria. Our mission is to create a community where rule of law guides every facet of societal interactions in Nigeria. ICON promotes human dignity, the right to live, religious freedom, and the protection of the vulnerable against all forms of persecution.
For more information on ICON, visit www.ICONhelp.org.
For more information on ICON’s Silent Slaughter campaign, visit www.SilentSlaughterNigeria.com.
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