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ACLJ Files Urgent FOIA Request Against Biden Administration Demanding Explanation for Removing Nigeria from Persecution Watchlist as Deadly Violence Against Christians Rages


Jordan Sekulow

July 15, 2022

6 min read

Persecuted Church



We’ve been warning the world that deadly violence against Christians was spiraling out of control in Nigeria. Now the African nation has become ground zero for Islamic radicals carrying out targeted attacks against Christians because of their faith. And President Joe Biden has actually turned a blind eye to these murderers, turning his back on beleaguered Christians.

The ACLJ just took legal action to hold the Biden Administration accountable for its betrayal of Nigeria’s Christians.

According to one report, a Christian is killed every two hours in Nigeria. And yet rather than take action to defend these embattled Christians, President Biden has effectively abandoned them in their darkest hour by removing Nigeria from the State Department’s Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list, a critical persecution watchlist.

It's an absolutely devastating rate of persecution and slaughter. Nigeria alone is reported to be responsible for 80% of all Christians murdered for their faith worldwide. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable persecution, President Biden REMOVED Nigeria from the CPC list the day before his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, visited the nation. It’s an unconscionable betrayal.

We told you how when he served as Secretary of State under President Trump, ACLJ Senior Counsel for Global Affairs Mike Pompeo added Nigeria to the Countries of Particular Concern watchlist for its violations of religious freedom and human rights abuses. Sec. Pompeo actually credited the work of the ACLJ in helping him make that determination. We at the ACLJ were encouraged and hopeful that by adding Nigeria to the CPC list it might pressure the Nigerian government to take proactive steps to stop this violence, protect its Christian people, and bring the violent attackers to justice.

Now, in response to President Biden’s betrayal, we recently sent a letter directly to Secretary of State Blinken demanding that the Administration return Nigeria to the CPC watchlist, but the Biden Administration has failed to respond or take any positive action.

So now we’ve taken legal action to make President Biden answer. We just filed a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking for all records leading up and pertaining to the decision to take Nigeria off of the CPC list. As our FOIA states:

[T]his Request seeks records pertaining to the U.S. Department of State’s knowledge and efforts surrounding the story that the Biden Administration State Department removed Nigeria from the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) – a list of countries that engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom – just days before Secretary Blinken met with Nigeria’s President Buhari.

If this Administration chooses to ignore our FOIA, as it has with the others we’ve filed against it, our legal team is prepared to file another lawsuit to get to the truth. President Biden and company can try to ignore us, but if they don’t answer our FOIA, they will be forced to answer to a federal judge.

Unfortunately, there is no justification for what President Biden did. There is no excuse. Since President Biden’s betrayal, things have not improved for Christians in Nigeria. In fact, if anything, the bloodshed has only increased..

As we explained in our FOIA, the situation has grown dire:

In Nigeria, innocent Christians are being massacred. “In Nigeria, a Christian is killed for [his or her] faith every two hours.” From October 2020 to September 2021, “more Christians were murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country.”  With more than 4,650 Christians killed during that time period, “Nigeria accounts for nearly 80% of Christian deaths worldwide.”

Radical Islamic groups like Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist militia that has sworn its loyalty to ISIS, are committing barbaric atrocities against Christians while the Nigerian government continues to do nothing. Yet, in November 2021, the Biden State Department removed Nigeria from the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list.

Our FOIA also highlights acts of unimaginable violence committed against innocent Christians in Nigeria SINCE President Biden removed the nation from the CPC list:

After the Biden Administration removed Nigeria from the watchlist, in May 2022 the story broke that roughly 20 Christians were slaughtered by members of ISIS. As reported by the Daily Mail:

ISIS extremists have callously executed 20 Christians in Nigeria in a bloodthirsty rampage to 'avenge the killing of the group's leaders in the Middle East'.

The terrorist group published footage of the ruthless killings, showing the masked knife and gun-wielding fanatics standing behind their kneeling victims.

The militants carried out the merciless executions in Borno state where rival Islamist groups Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) have been abducting, looting and killing on a huge scale.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the brutal execution-style murders of these 20 Nigerian Christians. This is hardly the first time such an atrocity has taken place in Nigeria. The ACLJ reported numerous horrific instances of targeted violence and murder committed by Islamic radicals. Nigerian Christians are living in a nightmare. Terrorists have ransacked and burned Christian villages, gunned down entire families, and even beheaded Christians. Innocent young girls have been abducted and sold as slaves, or worse.

Just as we reported how President Biden abandoned Christians along with women and young girls and American citizens in Afghanistan, he has also abandoned our innocent Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Innocent Christian men, women, and children are now forced to endure a living nightmare of continual violent attacks, mass executions, and kidnappings by Islamic terrorist groups.

So I’m brought back to my question of why take Nigeria off the list? We’ve told you that the President is currently on a world tour, seemingly begging for oil. Could this have been some misguided early attempt to grease the wheels with the Nigerian government, so-to speak, in an attempt to obtain Nigerian oil? Surely no sitting U.S. President would allow scores of innocent Christians to be exterminated for their faith in the hopes of buying cheap oil to cover his own problems here at home.

Whatever the reasoning behind this faulty decision, we will get to the bottom of it. The American people deserve to know the truth. And if President Biden refuses to cooperate, we will file a lawsuit and take him to court. Nigerian Christians – men, women, and children – are being slaughtered for their faith.They need our help, before it’s too late. As we demand answers from the Biden Administration, sign our URGENT petition now.

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