Congress Must Investigate U.S. Aid to Nigeria

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TAKE ACTION now to help us pressure members of Congress to immediately investigate and audit U.S. aid going to Nigeria’s military and internally displaced peoples and to report back their findings. We make it super easy for you to contact your elected representatives and to promote this effort via social media.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and will eventually, over the next few decades, overtake the population of the United States. That nation is, moreover, rich with resources—including oil. Unsurprisingly, the United States and China are competing head-to-head for influence in Nigeria, often at the expense of human rights and religious freedom. America’s failure to hold Nigerian leaders to account for the ongoing religious-based violence ravaging the country has made pawns of the persecuted.

Violence related to religious and regional disputes and tracked in Nigeria since the inauguration of Good Luck Jonathan on May 29, 2011, continues on a daily basis. More than 40,000 have been killed since 2011 according to the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations' Africa program that documents and maps violence in Nigeria that is motivated by political, economic, or social grievances. In the first six months of this year alone, no less than 5,222 were killed by violent non-state actors.

Hundreds of formerly, mostly Christian farming villages have been violently invaded and taken over by Islamic terrorist groups, especially in Kaduna, Benue, Borno, and other northern states. The UNHCR reports that:
“Over 3.2 million people are displaced, including over 2.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in north-eastern Nigeria….”

Benue State bears much of the burden of caring for the people who have fled their homes and communities. Benue’s Governor Samuel Ortom, in several trips to Washington, D.C., claims hundreds of millions in U.S. aid intended to help provide for the needs of IDPs is not making it to the victims or those states supporting them. Military aid from the United States has only served to build up Nigeria’s corrupt military-industrial complex while their half-hearted and ineffectual campaign against “terrorism” drags on.

Matters have been made worse by the fact that, before Secretary of State Anthony Blinken traveled to Nigeria last November, unexpectedly and without explanation or justification removed that country from the U.S. State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern” (CPC). As you know, the CPC list designates nations guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 and empowers U.S. agencies to place sanctions on these nations and leaders for these abuses.

Human rights advocates decried the shocking reversal as a political deal to counter growing Chinese influence and improve U.S. relations with the Buhari regime. It is unknown whether Blinken will re-designate Nigeria in this year’s International Religious Freedom Report, as he certainly should.

America must hear the cries of Nigeria’s religious violence victims and stand firm in our commitment to promote and defend freedom of religion or belief as a continuing top priority of U.S. foreign policy or risk losing our moral authority in such matters. We must ensure accountability even as geopolitical pressures pit the U.S. and Communist China against each other in Africa.
"Congress must investigate where hundreds of millions of U.S. aid intended to support millions of internally displaced people has gone."

Dede Laugesen

Executive Director for Save the Persecuted Christians