ICON Visits Dafo
Local coordinators and volunteers from ICON visit Daffo village
June 25, 2020

In this article of Religious Freedom and Global Security News:

  • June Off to a Deadly Start in Nigeria
  • Nigerian Government and Militant Fulani Herdsman Feeling Pressure from International Community?
  • Buhari Blames Others
  • Reports on Religious Freedom Demonstrate Critical Need for Action
  • President Trump Empowers DOS, USCIRF
  • Happening in the states
  • The Situation in Nigeria is Critical; We Need to Send a Special Envoy Now

June Off to a Deadly Start in Nigeria
A surge in the frequency and severity of terrorist attacks in Nigeria this month is making headlines, drawing a fresh round of criticism aimed at President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration.
The United States publicly condemned the “senseless and brazen” killings in Nigeria that has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of civilian lives. In a statement released on June 16, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “the government of Nigeria needs to do more to strengthen ongoing efforts to address this violence, hold those responsible accountable, and protect civilians.”
After a United Nations (U.N.) humanitarian hub was burned down in one of several recent and brutal attacks in the Borno State, the U.N. said it was “appalled.” The attacks happened over a matter of days and killed dozens of civilians, including a four-year-old girl. Other examples include:
  • On June 10, suspected members of Boko Haram killed at least 81 and wounded many others in an attack in the Gubio area of Nigeria’s Borno State. Governor Babagana Zulum described the attack as “barbaric.” The Washington Post was quick to point out that the massacre left more people dead than months of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On June 13, ISWAP soldiers killed at least 40 civilians and injured hundreds more in twin attacks in the Borno State.
In all, approx. 500 innocent people have been killed as a result of the escalating violence in Nigeria in just the first three weeks of June. To put that into perspective, the ICON/PSJ Silent Slaughter Incidence Tracker shows a total of 245 deaths in April and 363 in May. Already, there has been more death and destruction reported in the first half of June.
And the world is obviously watching.

President Buhari

President Buhari seated in Ayo Villa

Nigerian Government and Militant Fulani Herdsman
Feeling Pressure from International Community?
Over the last decade, tens of thousands of innocent lives have been lost, mostly women and children, at the hands of Militant Fulani Herdsman, Boko Haram, ISWAP, and others committing a genocide against Nigerian Christians and crimes against humanity on the wider population. 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.
Yet, the Nigerian government has turned a blind eye.
In fact, U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom Commissioner Johnnie Moore recently said, “The most essential responsibility of any government is the protection of its own citizens. Nigeria’s government keeps failing at this.”
Recently, however, Nigeria has come under increased scrutiny for allowing the violence to continue unchecked, and there is a renewed commitment to protecting international religious freedom.
Buhari Blames Others
President Muhammadu Buhari seemed to acknowledge the worsening violence on Thursday when he blamed his heads of security for their handling of the recent attacks. According to reports, “he is extremely unhappy about what is happening… and wants an immediate reversal of the current trend.”
But actions speak louder than words. If President Buhari desires change, he can and must drive that change.
In lieu of that, as Rev. Moore says, “It is time for the U.S., U.K., [European Union] and others to evaluate every single area of cooperation until the Nigerians fix this.”
New reports and research seem to support this statement.
Reports on Religious Freedom Demonstrate 
Critical Need for Action
Over the last month, there have been a number of new reports on the prevalence of religious persecution worldwide and others that confirm the need for action in Nigeria, specifically.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2020 Annual Report, recommending that Nigeria remain a “Country of Particular Concern” and that Nigerian teenager Leah Sharibu remain a religious prisoner of conscience after more than two years in Boko Haram captivity.
The Department of State also released its 2019 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, which highlighted concerns about the deterioration of religious freedom conditions in Nigeria.
Outside of the U.S., the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief launched a new report in entitled Nigeria – Unfolding Genocide? that urges the Government of Nigeria and the international community to implement its recommendations to help save the lives of Nigerian citizens and to improve their welfare.
Around the release of the reports, President Trump made a bold move.
President Trump Empowers DOS, USCIRF
On June 2, President Trump doubled down on his commitment to protecting religious freedom and signed a new executive order. The first-of-its-kind order directs the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to take action to combat religious freedom violations and calls for a budget of at least $50 million for programs to fight religious violence and persecution abroad and to protect religious minorities.
ICON issued a statement applauding the order, saying “The president’s new order empowers DOS and USAID to take the necessary steps to drive positive change in Nigeria. We applaud this development and hope it is a turning point in stopping Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis once and for all.”
The order and reports are part of the critical discussion that is gaining momentum not just nationally, but also in the states.
Happening in the states
Kyle Abts, co-founder of ICON, appeared on the podcast Stand Up for the Truth on June 15. The podcast can be found online and on-air in Green Bay, Wisconsin, home to Congressmen Mike Gallagher (R). During the interview, Abts discussed the persecution of Christians in Nigeria and the need for the U.S. to appoint a special envoy in order to help prevent the killing of innocent women and children.
In addition to his appearance on Stand up for the Truth, Abts spoke with Iowa’s number one talk news radio station WHO 1040 am about Senator Joni Ernst’s letter to President Trump asking his administration to appoint a special envoy to the Lake Chad region of Nigeria.
Senator Ernst and Senator Chuck Grassley’s support for the issue is starting to spread to others. On June 11, Pastor Terry Amann of the Church of the Way located in West Des Moines, IA held a fireside chat. In the video posted onFacebook, Pastor Amann explained what is happening to Christians in Nigeria and urged his congregation to reach out to their members of Congress and ask for help in preventing the killings.
January to May 2020 Killings in Nigeria
The Situation in Nigeria is Critical;
We Need to Send a Special Envoy Now
Experts have said that with violence escalating, the Government failing to take steps to meaningfully stop that violence, and fed up people starting to defend themselves, Nigeria is nearing a tipping point.
In a column for the Christian Post, ICON’s Stephen Enada recently said, “Nigeria has been sitting on this powder keg for a while now, with civil unrest building. Western nations have a vested interest in making sure that things get better from here.”
His statement is even more true today. We cannot let violence continue in Nigeria. Every single crime committed creates a devastating ripple effect that impacts more things, events, and people far and wide more than we will ever truly know – and sadly, the insurgent groups we are dealing with are relentless.
We need to send a Special Envoy as soon as possible – before more innocent lives are lost.
About the International Committee On Nigeria (ICON)
ICON is 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
For more information on ICON’s Silent Slaughter campaign, visit