". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Redesignation of Nigeria as CPC Moves Forward: ‘Americans Stand With’ Persecuted Nigerians

February 7, 2024

When Family Research Council President Tony Perkins served as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in the Trump administration, Nigeria was designated as a country of particular concern (CPC). This was done to put sanctions in place and elevate international awareness about the violations of religious freedom occurring in the country. But once President Joe Biden took office, Nigeria was removed from the CPC list, even though Christians in Nigeria continue to face severe persecution.

Since 2009, 52,250 Christians in Nigeria have been slaughtered. According to Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), an international nonprofit focused on persecuted Christians, “51% of Nigerians are Christians,” and the terrorist group Boko Haram and the militant Fulani herdsmen are the main persecutors. Their goal is “to drive Christians out of the region and continue their push to create a separate Islamist nation governed by Islamic law.”

VOM summarized life as a Christian in a hostile country such as Nigeria:

“Nearly all Christians in northeastern Nigeria have lost family members or friends in attacks. … Entire congregations have been displaced, and many pastors have been forced to leave the region. … Thousands of Christians remain in camps designated for internally displaced people. With few schools able to function because of the violence, families are concerned about their children’s education. Life is a constant struggle, and in some places it is difficult for Christians to find food. Famine threatens farms in the north as a result of ongoing Islamist violence, and militant Fulani Muslims kill farmers when they attempt to return to their farms.”

“Despite these ongoing attacks,” said Perkins on Tuesday’s episode of “Washington Watch,” “the Biden administration continues to refuse to place Nigeria on its list of countries of particular concern.” But earlier on Tuesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup for House Resolution 82 that covered the need to reinstate Nigeria on the CPC list.

During the markup, the resolution was voted to move forward, despite the opposition from Democrats who claimed “it failed to also include the LGBTQ population,” The Daily Signal reported. As Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said, “Congress can’t simply say, ‘We’re only concerned about Christian persecution.’ We’re concerned about anyone’s human rights being violated.” In response, Republican lawmakers urged that this markup was about specific religious freedom matters, which applied to the Christians being persecuted.

Additionally, Akila Yusuf, pastor of House on the Rock in Nigeria, further highlighted on “Washington Watch” about the reality of the persecution Christian Nigerians face — including how its effects bleed into other parts of society at large.

“[W]hat we noticed over the years was that … nothing has changed. Rather, things have escalated,” Yusuf said. “I’ve been in that part of the country for over 20 years, and I’ve witnessed the circle of violence escalating to what it is today.” He acknowledged that things were better when former President Trump was in office because they were on the CPC list, which put pressure on the Nigerian government. But “we do not have [that] right now,” he added.

And the economy is “becoming derelict right now,” Yusuf explained. “A lot of things [are] just piling up, … and something needs to be done quickly, … or else we’re going to have a real crisis.” He further emphasized that if it continued to worsen, it “would not just be a Nigerian problem, [but] will become an African problem.”

In Nigeria, “There’s so much anxiety and so much insecurity,” Yusuf noted. He then referenced James 2 where it says faith without works is dead. “We are praying and then we are working. So, we’re using both hands at the same time,” he said. “We have also called on churches to intensify prayer in their local churches.”

Yusuf continued, “[We’re] praying to understand why [we’re] suffering because of [our] faith, [we’re] praying that [we] should stand strong in the faith, and then [we’re] praying that the Lord will supply every need [we] have arising from the crisis.” Perkins shared that we must also pray for those things and “put feet to” them, too.

Sean Nelson, legal counsel for Global Religious Freedom with ADF International, commented to The Washington Stand, “Both the victims of persecution in Nigeria and international religious freedom advocates have been crying out for years for the U.S. to take a greater response to the slaughter of Christians in Nigeria and the increasing and devastating use of blasphemy laws and allegations.”

Nelson continued, “For many in Nigeria, the State Department’s lack of a designation for now three years has felt like abandonment.” Referring to the progress of the resolution to recognize Nigeria as a CPC, “One of the most difficult hurdles” is “now cleared,” he emphasized, “and we look forward to seeing the resolution pass soon.”

Nelson concluded, “If passed, the resolution would send a very strong international message to Nigeria to stop the impunity for these attacks and free those imprisoned on blasphemy charges. And most importantly, the resolution would show the victims of persecution in Nigeria that their cries have not been in vain, but that Americans stand with them.”

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.