Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

The EU should help Nigeria stamp out religious extremism

15th March 2012

The rise of attacks on Christian minorities in Nigeria, and the kidnappings by the jihadi group Boko Haram require the EU to take all action it can to support the government in preventing the country from completely destabilising, Charles Tannock MEP and Peter Van Dalen MEP, said today.

They were speaking during a debate in the European Parliament with the EU External Action Service on the situation in Nigeria. The ECR had requested the debate many weeks ago following the Christmas attacks on churches in Madalla and the north. The situation in Nigeria was once again put under the spotlight last week with news that two European hostages had been killed following a failed rescue attempt by British special forces.

Peter Van Dalen MEP, Netherlands Christian Union delegation leader, said:

"I strongly condemn the violence unleashed by the terrorist organization Boko Haram and express my condolences to the victims' families.

"Boko Haram has embarked on a campaign to drive all Christians out of northern and central Nigeria and to make the country one of the most hostile places on earth for religious minorities. We need to counter this campaign and prevent Nigeria from sinking into a morass of violence.

"I call upon the Nigerian authorities to address the many and complex root causes of the violence. These include hate speech and the almajeri system, a system of education where children are indoctrinated with hatred. But also clashes over fertile farmland, poverty and inequalities. The EU should assist wherever possible.

"The Nigerian Government also needs to intervene in the cases of people tried under shari'ah law in the 12 northern states. Many are sentenced to death, amputation, flogging or other terrible punishments that violate international human rights law, as well as the Nigerian Constitution."