Sanctions must be placed on Nigeria after horrific Christian persecution, lobby group says
IS UK foreign policy about to acquire some teeth? First, Boris Johnson announces that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development are to be merged into a single Whitehall unit – a new Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
The UK is embarking on phase one of POCA enforcement, and will be looking for other cases of human rights violations.
Sadly, there are so many around the world, it is perhaps hard to know where to start. A recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on religious liberties, led by MP Jim Shannon, provides a credible answer. MPs and peers looked into the horrors of Christian persecution in Nigeria. The report is a damning indictment of the mayhem there and the wholesale murder, destruction of property and persecution of Christians in the middle belt region of that country.
The situation is horrific. In July 2018, the Nigerian House of Representatives declared the killing of Christian farmers in the middle belt to be genocide, and requested the government to act by establishing orphanages, among other critical steps. Two years later, this has not happened.
Churches continue to be burned in Nigeria – five hundred churches in Benue State alone. Many Christians) fear for their lives. And prominence is no protection – witness the murder of the Chairman of the Christian Association in Nigeria, the Reverend Lawan Andimi. Shockingly, Theophilus Danjuma, a former Army Chief of Staff has alleged that “[the Nigerian] army is not neutral. They collude [in ethnic cleansing of Christians]”.
Given the Nigerian government’s complicity in the persecution of Christians, in clear violation of the Nigerian constitution and international law, it is to be hoped that the full force of the Magnitsky-style powers will be used against the perpetrators. The UK can seize the assets of persons who have engaged in conduct connected with such human rights abuses, including directing, sponsoring or profiting from it, or materially assisting with it.
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act (2018) empowers UK ministers to impose sanctions to provide accountability for or be a deterrent to such actions (which amount to a gross human rights violation).
The silence of Nigeria’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney-General Abubakar Malami, is damning and will surely be considered by the UK and others who examine how best to use human rights sanctions.
The Fulani herders who are committing these atrocities certainly see the Attorney-General’s silence as tacit approval for their actions and enjoy the comfort of knowing there will be no meaningful sanction from law enforcement.
Sanctions must be placed on Nigeria after horrific Christian persecution, lobby group says.
As Britain stands for liberal trade, competition and the protection of property rights, its foreign policies should deliver those around the world. The protection of individual liberty and the protection of the security of your person and your property is a critical value of the UK’s liberal economic democracy, and has been so since Magna Carta. The protection of human rights abroad is crucial to reflecting modern British values.
Sadly, there are so many around the world, it is perhaps hard to know where to start. A recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on religious liberties, led by MP Jim Shannon, provides a credible answer. MPs and peers looked into the horrors of Christian persecution in Nigeria. The report is a damning indictment of the mayhem there and the wholesale murder, destruction of property and persecution of Christians in the middle belt region
All the signs that Boko Haram are attempting in Nigeria what ISIS failed to do in Syria are crystal clear. In the last ten months alone they have invaded and permanently occupied 350 Igbo villages and communities. Localities such as Kajuru have shown their vulnerability, and many remained unprotected by the Federal Government.
Added to all this, rampant political and media corruption in Nigeria has drawn the spotlight on President Buhari, who lacks either the willingness or capability to confront the issue head on.
An endemic lack of transparency makes it harder to expose this corruption. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 ranked Nigeria at 146th in the world – two places lower than 2018 – scoring an abysmal 26 points out of a possible 100, level with Iran. It is difficult to imagine these statistics describing one of the most prominent members of the Commonwealth, and a long-time friend of Britain.
Combined with this inadequate response to perhaps Africa’s largest ever terrorist insurgency, Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, and those responsible for it, have been slammed by the IMF: “persistent structural and policy challenges continue to constrain growth.”
The UK, like many other countries has now armed itself to deal with this type of violation of its values. The government must now act: it is obvious that carrots alone will not change behaviour in Nigeria, nor will the violence and butchery end until there is a clear message from the West, to Nigeria’s leadership, that such actions will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of law.