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NIGERIA, July 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Islamic terrorists are slaughtering thousands of Christians – killing pregnant women and children and raping girls – in Nigeria in a bid to force sharia law on the country, says a Nigeria-born Roman Catholic priest.

“They are supplied with AK-47s, dangerous weapons, and swords … and they move into Christian villages and communities,” said Father Vitus Ikeme, a Nigerian Catholic priest now living in a small Atlantic Canadian city. “Just last month, they went into a church, killed two priests, cut kids and 15 members of the church.”

Christian church leaders are calling on the international community, particularly the United Nations, to step in and bring peace to the impoverished and war-torn country.

“It is a kind of jihad war going on in Nigeria,” said Father Ikeme.

U.S. President Donald Trump raised the ire of critics in April when he expressed sympathy for the plight of Christian farmers being targeted by Fulani herdsmen, the majority of whom are Muslim, after meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We’re deeply concerned by religious violence in Nigeria, including the burning of churches, and the killing and persecution of Christians.  It’s a horrible story,” said Trump.

“We encourage Nigeria and the federal, state, and local leaders to do everything in their power to immediately secure the affected communities and to protect innocent civilians of all faiths, including Muslims and including Christians,” he said.

Father Ikeme would like to see Ottawa take a similar stand and also put pressure on Nigeria to stop the killing.

So far, more than 6,000 people, mostly women, children and seniors, have been maimed and killed by Fulani herdsmen, claims Rev. Dr. Soja Bewarang, chairman of the Denominational Heads Plateau and Christian Association of Nigeria Plateau State.

“What is happening in Plateau state and other select states in Nigeria is pure genocide and must be stopped immediately,” Bewarang wrote in a statement. 

Father Ikeme agrees the death toll due to Islamic attacks on Christians in Nigeria is probably upwards of 5,000 people.

His own family, including his mother, seven brothers and sisters and 24 nephews and nieces, live in the southeastern part of the country and have so far been spared. The Fulani have not attacked their community.

Those who do fall victim to the Fulani, though, either die or suffer forced religious conversions.

Girls who survive these attacks are often spared death only to be forced to become Muslim and be taken as wives by young Muslims, claims the Christian association in Nigeria. 

“We observe the continuous abduction of underaged Christian girls by Muslim youths who are forcefully converted to Islam and taken in for marriage without the consent of their parents,” wrote Bewarang.

“This does not only violate the fundamental human right of the girls but is also a call to anarchy when such actions are retaliated by Christian youths. This is even more worrisome as such acts are supported by several highly-placed clerics and emirs,” he said. 

In Nigeria, President Buhari has publicly stated his government is doing everything it can to stop the bloodshed. 

“We are doing all we can to secure the release of the remaining abducted schoolgirls from Dapchi and Chibok,” Buhari said in a statement in April. 

“In this context, we will continue to welcome United States collaboration in intelligence gathering, hostage negotiations, and information sharing,” he said. “The government is taking necessary steps to promote the peaceful coexistence of herdsmen and farmers by focusing on boosting security and enforcing legislation that will guarantee borders and farmers’ access to land.”

Father Ikeme, though, maintains the Nigerian president is simply making diplomatic statements to placate the international community.

In Nigeria, the Denominational Heads Plateau and Christian Association of Nigeria Plateau State agrees, describing Buhari’s actions as little more than window dressing. Those who kill innocents are being allowed to roam free, said Bewarang.

“We are particularly worried at the widespread insecurity in the country where wanton attacks and killings by armed Fulani herdsmen, bandits and terrorists have been taking place on a daily basis in our communities unchallenged despite huge investments in the security agencies,” he said. “The perpetrators are being deliberately allowed to go scot free.”

In Canada, Father Ikeme is urging Christians to raise their voices up in prayer to end this genocide.

“They should pray for Nigeria in distress,” said Ikeme. “Our country, Nigeria, needs prayer … The solution is for God’s intervention.”