In June of 2021, we petitioned Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE, District 1) to help end the slaughter and enslavement of Nigerian people. We understood that, due to his role in advocating for the enslaved and brutalized Christians of Sudan in the past, Representative Fortenberry is in a unique moral position to advocate for enslaved Nigerians’ human rights.
We appeal to his commitment to fight for religious freedom and human rights for all peoples. We appeal to him because all black lives matter. Read our letter below:
Dear Congressman Jeff Fortenberry,
We write to ask you to help us end the slaughter and enslavement of our people. We understand that in your role as a member of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee, and a Congressman active on international peace and religious freedom, you have expressed deep concern over Iraqi minority groups like Christians, Yazidi, and minority Muslim.
As you may know, in Nigeria, jihad terrorists are storming our villages and murdering our people. So far this year over 1,500 Nigerians who are mostly Christians, have been murdered by these jihadists and over 2,000 people have been abducted or kidnapped.
We, leaders of the Nigerian diaspora in America, have decided that we no longer can stand by and allow this to continue.
Along with murdering our people they are abducting, enslaving, and trafficking their fellow Nigerians. Many, like the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 — which inspired Michelle Obama’s “#BringBackOurGirls” hashtag — are Christians, but some are also Muslim. A large percentage are young women and girls taken and trafficked as slave concubines, like 18-year-old Leah Sharibu, kidnapped from her school in Dapchi. They endure horrendous abuse and physical mistreatment. The Christian girls are forced to convert to a religion not their own; Leah, for example, a slave for over 3-years because she chooses to remain a Christian.
We appeal to your commitment to fight for religious freedom and human rights for all peoples. We appeal to you because all black lives matter.
We believe that adding your voice to ours can help end the murders and free those of our people who are in bondage and in fear for their lives.
We are holding a public demonstration to bring awareness to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. We ask you to join us. It will be held Saturday, June 5 at 10 A.M. at the corner of 72nd and Dodge Street in Omaha.
Your voice will surely elevate the issue to national attention.
We know that America is now deeply divided. But on one thing all Americans agree: We are a nation of abolitionists. We fought a Civil War which took the lives of over 600,000 Americans so that the crime of one man owning another would be put to an end. We believe raising the issue of the black slaves of Nigeria would garner sympathetic support across America’s political spectrum. We all recall that the jihad in Sudan was ended due in great part to the anti-slavery campaign that took place in America with the support from all corners of American political and ethnic life: black, liberal, conservative, Christian, and Jewish. Representative Frank Wolf (Rtd) and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) were part of that.
In addition to inviting you to our demonstration, we ask you to:
1. Issue a public statement decrying the capture and enslavement of black Africans, whether Muslim or Christian, by jihadists in Nigeria.
2. Discuss with us plans to employ the power of the United States — by force or diplomacy — to emancipate these slaves.
3. Help us educate the American public about the plight of blacks in Nigeria, both Muslim and Christian, who are being slaughtered, enslaved, and trafficked by religious supremacists.
Please get back to us with your thoughts.
Co-Founder, International Committee on Nigeria
1 (404) 988-0611
Additional members of our Committee:
Pastor Ayo Adedoyin
Dr. Oluwasayo Ajiboye
President, Mission Africa International
CEO and President, Stefanos Foundation
The Venerable Dr. Samuel Orimogunje and Deborah Orimogunje
Dr. Gloria Puldu
President, LEAH Foundation
Suleman A. D. Sukukum
Pastor Yakubu Bakfwash
Committee to Free Nigerian Slaves