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Nigerian journalist arrested after covering attacks on Christians

A Nigerian Christian journalist has been jailed over his reporting on attacks on Christians in Nigeria’s central belt and his criticism of the government’s response, the Barnabas Fund reported on Monday.

Kaduna state officials arrested Era journalist Luka Binniyat on November 4 and charged him with transmitting electronic information deemed “false” under the national cybercrime law.

The charge is a federal offense punishable by three years in prison and Binniyat has not been released on bail and is to be tried in a higher court.

A local source told the Barnabas Fund that Binniyat’s arrest “is intended to silence any dissenting voices and to intimidate both Luka and the communities in southern Kaduna”.

As Breitbart News reported, last July unidentified gunmen kidnapped some 140 Christian students from Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna state.

At the time, demonstrators denounced the failure of the civil authorities to protect their children against Fulani Muslim bandits and looters who carried out the kidnappings with impunity.

“This government has abandoned the people of Kaduna,” said Mustapha Kumbe, the father of one of the kidnapped students. “We will continue to demonstrate until our children return.

“Today is a day of mourning as we mourn the gravest attack and the greatest tragedy to impact the Baptist community in Nigeria,” said Elijah Brown, CEO of the Baptist World Alliance. “I echo the words of a Baptist leader in Kaduna, ‘Our church is in severe pain.'”

Complaints about the government’s inaction in the face of relentless attacks on Christians in Kaduna state have been lodged for years.

In 2020, the Association of Human Rights Writers of Nigeria (HURIWA) called on President Donald Trump and Pope Francis to intercede with their government to end “genocidal killings of Christians”.

Spokesmen for the group said they made the appeal following a series of well-coordinated attacks on Christians by armed Islamists in Kaduna state.

“Since the Nigerian State and the Kaduna State Government do not treat these threats as a national emergency, we have decided to let the world know the real state of affairs and we are happy that some organizations have made similar conclusions, ”said a statement signed jointly by HURIWA National Coordinator Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Director of Media Affairs Zainab Yusuf.

“At last count, virtually all major Christian denominations in Kaduna State have witnessed dozens of attacks, just as dozens of pastors have died from these targeted armed invasions and kidnappings,” the statement said. . “We are not accusing the Kaduna state government of any implication, but we are concerned about the conspiratorial silence in the face of this series of attacks.”

The human rights group also expressed deep concern that Christians are not represented in the government of Kaduna state, since the governor, deputy governor and president of the National Assembly are all Muslims, despite constitutional provisions according to which members of different ethno-religious communities must be represented in positions.

The group insisted that this state of affairs is not an accident, but rather “the government of Kaduna State and the office of the President of Nigeria are deeply entrenched in the selective appointments of most Muslims as that hold virtually all strategic positions “.

This has the effect of returning “millions of Christians to the inglorious position of second-class citizens,” the statement said, making them “cannon fodder for spiraling armed attacks by armed Islamists posing as shepherds, kidnappers and bandits ”.

“It was the fuel that sparked widespread ill-treatment of Christians,” the group says. “The incessant attacks by armed Islamists targeting only pastors; Christian schools and clerics of the Christian denomination have become a national emergency. “

For his part, Binniyat has repeatedly challenged the Kaduna state government over the security issue as well as the targeted killing of Christians in southern Kaduna.

Binniyat’s arrest was directly linked to a story he wrote on October 29 titled, “In Nigeria, Police Call Massacres ‘Bad’ But Do Not Make Arrests.” In his article, Binniyat quoted Senator Danjuma Laah, who criticized Kaduna’s Homeland Security and Home Affairs Commissioner Samuel Aruwan for hiding facts about “genocide against Christians in the south of the state. of Kaduna ”.

Binniyat has “written extensively on the plight of the population under persistent attacks by Fulani Islamist militias, and has challenged the accounts of the Kaduna state government on security issues and killings in southern Kaduna,” reported the Barnabas Fund, citing their local source.

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