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Ending The Persecution Of Nigerian Christians By Muslim Fanatics (Part 3)

By Abuchi Obiora

This Part 3, the final part of this discourse takes a conclusion on how to permanently end the prolonged, unwarranted intolerance of the Christian religion in Nigeria, which have resulted to the wanton kidnapping, maiming and killing of Nigerian Christians by Muslim fanatics who do not also spare Christian Churches, Christian homes, farms belonging to Christians and Christian business places.

I will start this by completing the narration of the severe persecutions of Christians in the hands of the emperors of the Imperial Rome. Christianity passed through severe persecutions at the hands of Roman Emperors. These Emperors were Nero Claudius (54-68 A.D), Domitian the Emperor (81-96 A.D), Emperor Trojan (78-117 A.D), Emperor Marcus Aurelius (160-180 A.D), Emperor Septimus Severus (193-211 A.D), Emperor Alexander Severus (211-255 A.D), Emperor Decius (?), Emperor Valerian (?) and Emperor Diocletian (303-311 A.D).

The severe persecutions by these Emperors lasted before the game changer for the Christian Religion, Flavius Valerius Constantinus, a Byzantine Roman, known as Emperor Constantine the Great the son of Flavius Constantinus, a Roman Army Officer who had been one of the four rulers of the tetrarchy, and Helena Constantinus. Constantine the Great was born on the 22nd May, 288 A.D in Naissus, Dacia Mediterranean, and he ruled Roman Empire between 306 and 337 A.D having ascended the throne after a deadly contest for the emperorship.

Christianity survived the severe persecutions before the emergence of emperor Constantine the Great as a result of what may be regarded as the presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst. For example, to finally destroy Christianity, Emperor Valerian who had earlier in 257 A.D, passed an Edict to confiscate the property of the clergy and the wealthy members of the laity, also forbidding both public and private assemblies in that Edict, passed another edict in 258 A.D ordering the execution of the higher clergy and the forfeiture of the remaining wealth of the laity. Like other such extreme measures of persecution of Christians by some emperors before him, this would have permanently destroyed Christianity but they never saw the light of the day. In this case, Emperor Valerian was soon to be captured by the Persians in a brutal battle. He was later killed.

The ascension of Constantine the Great in Rome as an emperor was by divine arrangement. Constantine prevailed over other contestants to the throne to become the emperor. In his book, “Sketches from Church History” (BPC Consumer Books, Britain: 1975), S.M. Hughton explains that “In the struggle for the throne, Constantine had lost all confidence in the national gods, and therefore he was driven to call on the God of the Christians for help. Eusebius tells us that shortly before the battle of Milvian Bridge, the emperor has seen in the sky, a flaming cross with the words inscribed in Greek, ‘By this Conquest’. He adopted the cross as his emblem and beneath the standard of the cross his soldiers marched to victory”.

Believing that the Christian God gave him victory, Constantine with his ally Licinus, met at Milan and made the famous Edit of Milan which gave total freedom of worship to all religions. In summary, the Edict says that “We desire that anybody wishing to practice Christianity should be able to do so without slightest fear of being harassed. The Christians have full liberty to practice their religion”. With that proclamation, persecution of early Christians stopped and Christianity became ‘religio licita’.

The second part of the Edict by Constantine the Great proclaimed that the Roman Empire would help the Christians rebuild their ruins while the emperors (Constantine and Licinus) further proclaimed in the Edict that the Christian God was superior to the pagan god. It was a total triumph for the Christian religion: Constantine the Great had become a Christian!

Having become a Christian, Constantine the Great, like St. Paul, went further to become a gallant soldier of Jesus Christ. Licinus, his ally who was in charge of the eastern part of the Roman Empire (Constantine oversaw the western part) breached the Milan edict by re-initiating the persecution of Christians in his domain. A battle arose between Constantine and Licinus in 314 A.D and lasted till September 324 A.D when Constantine defeated him and imprisoned him for six months. He later killed him and became the sole ruler of the vast empire of Rome.

Free of persecution and operating with unfettered freedom, the Church expanded to all the nooks and crannies of the world. In the words of R.F. Youngblood (Nelson New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Washville, Nelson publishers, 1995), “Persecution is the hatred and affliction that follows the witnesses and holy life of God’s people in a hostile world”.

In the book “The Early Church: Historical Perspective”, Reverend (Canon) Dr. Eric Emeka Anozie adds that, “It was mainly on religious and moral purity that the Christian differed from the pagan”. This means to say that religious purity that is spiced up with moral impurity which is the trade mark of those who wantonly maim and kill Christians in Nigeria, is hypocrisy and paganism. Any religious believer who indulges in religious purity but fails to practice moral purity is simply a pagan, no matter in whatever religion he is disguised.

Nigerian Christians must therefore understand that, first, they are dealing with some pagans – the murderers of Christians and their accomplices whether in government or anywhere, disguised as Muslims because a Muslim friend told me that true Islam does not encourage killing. They need prayers for salvation by the cross.

Secondly, Jesus Christ taught that God’s Prophets always faced persecution (Matt. 5:12), so his disciples and subsequent followers on earth should expect to face persecution (Matt 10:23). No wonder, Tertullian, (The first major Christian author and true defender of the Christian faith to write in Latin language) says that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” of Jesus Christ on earth because, for every Christian who died, there were many more people converted to the faith by his death. This is already happening in Nigeria and I am sure that because “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, (Math:16:18), the Church of Jesus Christ shall take deeper root and blossom in Nigeria by the time the persecution of Nigerian Christians comes to an end.

Recently, (on June 21, 2022) it was reported by Michael Cohon of that Bloomberg, an International News Agency Headquartered in New York, was recently granted an interview by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari. The President was asked several questions including one about the killing of Nigerian Christians. The interviewer asked, “Are you concerned that the people accused of blasphemy still get stoned to death on the streets in northern Nigeria? What do these long-standing religious divisions mean for Nigeria’s future?”

In answer, the President said, “No person has the right to take the law into his or her own hands. Christianity and Islam, our two Great Faiths and their Great Books have far more in common than they have apart. Nigeria has a long tradition of tolerance that we must draw on, and we must strive to find common ground. What comes out of this tragedy is to cherish what we share, while at the same time, respect our differences”.

A good answer indeed, but I must observe that the ‘long tradition of tolerance’ the President was talking about is only on the part of Christians. You dare not ‘try’ Nigerian Muslims because they are always ready to set the country ablaze at the slightest provocation while not respecting the opinions and value system of the Christian religion. Though the President evaded the second lap of the question, I am sure that every Nigerian knows that there is no future for the country called Nigeria if the government allows the religious intolerance on the part of some Nigerian Muslims to persist and deteriorate.

Thirdly, the President’s answer did not give the reason why the government has not been able to address religious killings decisively through legislation. My thoughts on this as a patriotic Nigerian is that it, most probably may be because of the reason that his religion, Islam, is not at the receiving end of the religious killings in Nigeria.

Were it to be so, I am very sure that the leaders of Islam in Nigeria would have prevailed on him to quickly put in place a legislation to checkmate religious killings in Nigeria, that is, if those leaders have not incited their followers to respond to the killings.

Are there no dedicated, passionate Christians in the National Assembly to sponsor a Bill to stop extra-judicial killing of Christians in disguise for their blaspheming the Islamic Prophet or the Islamic Holy Book? I understand that even the Sharia Law that is operational in some states of northern Nigeria requires that such persons accused of blasphemy must be tried by competent Islamic Courts before judgment of death by stoning or in whatever form is passed. What is actually happening in Nigeria?.   

Nigerian Christians must cast their minds back to the revelations of Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, a Christian and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria whose death as a result of Covid-19 was smeared in controversies as the family accused the government hospital authority of negligence. With the recent consistent onslaughts on Christians and Christian worship places in Nigeria, Dr. Mailafia’s revelation on a planned Islamization of Nigeria, which was denied by government, may not, after all, be a hoax.

If the aim of the assaults on Christians and the Christian religion in Nigeria is to Islamize the country – ‘like dipping the Qur-an in the sea’ – it is not only going to be an attempt in futility but it will also end up to be an impossible and wild daydream borne of unbridled folly for any religious bigot, irredentist and ideologue to contemplate a wholesale religious control of a country founded on a multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic foundation.

It is important also to remember that Nigeria came to be a country through Portuguese Christian merchants on the auspices of British companies owned by Christians, later to be colonized by Britain, a Christian country whose historical imperialist Pax Britannia exploits was inherited from another powerful, historical Christian-controlled Roman Empire of the Pax Romana legendary era. The religious irredentists in Nigeria will wrongly believe that the Nigerian Christians and the international community, including America, the first-born of the nascent kingdom of Britain, will sit back and watch them blot out some vital part of history upon which the civilization of man on earth was founded.

A Christian song writer writes that “Let freedom ring whenever the mind knows that it is in chain. Let freedom ring whenever the heart knows pain”, while the American novelist and short story writer, Louis Dearborn L’ Amour (22nd March 1908 – 10th June 1988) opines that good men are really in trouble when all the arms are in the hands of evil men. Issues that are never addressed never get sorted out.

So, how did the early Christians manage and survive persecution during the time of the emperors and the mediaeval period? The survival of Christianity during the early persecution did not happen in a vacuum. There were Christian Apologists who had the combined duties of reaching out to the Roman Government and the people to defend the Christian faith. These Apologists were the silent, sometimes hidden saints that worked out the survival of Christianity for us to meet it. Will we allow the Christian faith to be extinguished in our time? God forbid!

Some of the Christian Apologists like Tertullian who was murdered on the orders of Marcus Aurelius paid the supreme sacrifice defending the Christian faith. Others, like the wife of Constantine the Great, worked assiduously underground to encourage her husband to play the masterstroke that saved Christianity at its greatest point of need. Who is working to save the Christian faith in Nigeria from extinction?

Nigerian Christians should stop deluding themselves believing that only prayers and their faith can solve their problems. “Faith without works is dead”. (James 2:20) because I have said before, there have been places where Christian docility resulted in the displacement of Christian religion by Islam. The present day Turkey is the ancestral home of St. Paul, the most important personality responsible for the spread of Christianity in the then world through his three missionary journeys to gain supports for Christianity. Of course, the next important personality for the spread of Christianity, is Constantine the Great, already discussed here. Christians must discover a pattern for the survival and spread of Christianity around the world. This pattern is that God uses the most improbable and well-positioned personalities to advance his work. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whichever he will”. (Proverbs 21:1).

Present day Turkey was one of the earliest Christian countries, being 100% Christian populated. Today, Turkey is almost 100% Muslim-populated as many Churches were reconstructed into Mosques by the order of a young Emir who completed the Islamization of that country. Many of the expensive and magnificent Church auditoria in Turkey were also remodeled to be public places on the orders of the young Emir.

There is an urgent need to have a silent body of Christian Apologists to defend the Christian faith in Nigeria. The intellectual works of the early Christian Apologists cover such areas as:

  1. Justification of the Christian theology both to the government and the Roman citizens.
  2. Subtle pleas on the Roman authorities to treat Christians justly.
  3. Erudite attacks on the pagan religious belief systems in Rome.
  4. Articulation and careful presentation of the true Christian doctrine to both the government and the Roman citizens in order to dispel evil rumors peddled to destroy Christianity.

Talking about Christian Apologists of the first and second centuries A.D, P.C. Ezeme in the book “The Genesis of the Early Church” (Jobus Press, Nsukka) says that “The(ir) arguments were defensive, offensive and constructive”.

These Christian Apologists included Quadratus Aristides, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Manucius Felix, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, The unknown author of the Epistle to Diognetus and several others. Shouldn’t there be Christian Apologists in Nigeria? What are Christians in the government, the Churches, in Business, in the Civil Service, and the Academia doing to save Christianity in Nigeria?

Nigerian Christians must begin to apply all the solutions articulated in this discourse to end their persecution including registering with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), obtain their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and start the process of making Nigeria safe for themselves by voting for the right candidates (not political parties) during the 2023 general elections.

In ending this discourse, let us, in unison sing all the five stanzas of the song in the Gospel Hymn and Songs Book (GHS) of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Number 41 titled: “ONWARD  CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS” viz:

  1. Onward, Christian soldiers!

Marching as to war,

Looking unto Jesus

Who is gone before;

Christ, the royal Master,

Leads against the foe;

Forward into battle,

See His banners go!


Onward Christian soldiers!

Marching as to war,

Looking unto Jesus

Who is gone before

  • At the name of Jesus

Satan’s host doth flee;

On then, Christian soldiers,

On to victory!

Hell’s foundations quiver

At the shout of Praise

Brothers, lift your voices

Loud your anthems raise.


Onward Christian soldiers!

Marching as to war,

Looking unto Jesus

Who is gone before

  • Like a mighty army

Moves the Church of God;

Brothers, we a treading

Where the saints have trod,

We are not divided,

All one body we –

One in hope and doctrine

One in charity.


Onward Christian soldiers!

Marching as to war,

Looking unto Jesus

Who is gone before

  • Crowns and throne may perish,

Kingdoms rise and wane;

But the Church of Jesus

Constant will remain:

Gates of hell can never

’Gainst that Church prevail

We have Christ own promise –

And that cannot fail


Onward Christian soldiers!

Marching as to war,

Looking unto Jesus

Who is gone before

  • Onward then, ye people,

Join our happy throng;

Blend with ours your voices

In the triumph song:

“Glory, Praise and Honour

Unto Christ the King”,-

This through countless ages

Men and angels sing.


Onward Christian soldiers!

Marching as to war,

Looking unto Jesus

Who is gone before

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen”. (Rev. 22:21).



For: Global Upfront Newspapers


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