The United States has advised the Federal Government to do more in protecting Nigerians and humanitarian organisations that are assisting the country in the face of activities of Boko Haram insurgents and other religious and ethnic violence.

The US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, made the call in Washington DC on Tuesday during a joint media briefing he had with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, after the US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission meeting.

Pompeo made the call amidst increasing attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on aid workers and residents of the North-East as well as the rising killings by bandits in other parts of the country, particularly, Niger, Zamfara and Katsina states.

Pompeo said although the US government was aware that the issues involved in the security challenges were hard and complicated, there was the need for the government to protect its civilians.

To achieve this, he said the US would provide $40m in humanitarian assistance to Nigeria in addition to the nearly $350m that was provided in 2019.

The NSCIA stated this at a press conference addressed by its Director of Administration, Alhaji Yusuf Nwoha.

Nwoha said, “The level of insecurity in the country has reached an unacceptable crescendo that declaring a state of emergency on it appears not only necessary but also pressing.

“Therefore, the NSCIA stridently calls on the Federal Government and all its agencies (including the military) to use whatever means possible to arrest this descent into anarchy. Nigeria cannot just continue like this with the blood of the innocent being shed unjustly and human security being at its lowest ebb.

It also gave the names of Christians who had been arrested for terrorism. The NSCIA added, “Christians have been known to engage in terrorism in Nigeria with a view to blaming it on Muslims.”

The NSCIA said the aborted bombing of the Living Faith Church in Kaduna, would have been blamed on Muslims if the suspect was not arrested.

It also made a tactical reference to the nationwide protest against killings organised by CAN and attended in Lagos by the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

Criticising CAN, the NSCIA stated that Boko Haram did not represent Islam or Muslims. It stated, “The group and the enemies of Islam hiding behind its mask are pursuing a rogue, venal and doggy agenda far removed from Islam.

“It is, therefore, the height of insincerity, wickedness, falsehood and hypocrisy to suggest that Boko Haram is a ploy to eliminate Christians, a dummy being promoted by some dealers camouflaging as religious leaders to their followers and the outside world.”

The group added, “To suggest that Christians are killed because they refuse to embrace Islam stands logic on its head. Were Muslim scholars and individuals killed in mosques, market squares and villages killed because they refused to denounce Islam?

CAN’s Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Samuel, In his response to NSCIA’s statement, said it was unfortunate that the Muslim group digressed from the reality to presenting names of Christians who were engaged in terrorism.

He said besides providing the names, the NSCIA ought to have named Christian organisations sponsoring them, their leaders, their headquarters, where they were being rehabilitated and their international partners.

“The Christian Association of Nigeria has much respect for the leadership of the NSCIA but regretted that they are being misled into taking issue with CAN. That attempt to exonerate Boko Haram as an Islamic organisation has failed! ”

He said CAN was not surprised that Boko Haram used Christian agents “because facts abound that most of the kidnapped Christians are forced to change their faith and work for the insurgents.”

“Is it not a likely outcome that with the rehabilitation packages and possible absorption of the so-called repentant terrorists into Nigerian Army, a high number of jobless youth will join the group for the sake of survival?

“I think at this point displaying names of Christians who have participated in terrorism will not help justify the case of the NSCIA because Nigerians already know that they are being killed by Boko Haram, Fulani militiamen, ISWAP, bandits, kidnappers and their likes. Nigerians know also their religion and the angle they come from. We cannot deny the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.”

On its part, the Presidency disputed CAN’s allegations that the Federal Government refused to pay ransom to secure the release of the Chibok schoolgirls because the majority of them were Christians.

CAN had alleged on Tuesday that the Dapchi schoolgirls kidnapped in Yobe State almost four years later in 2018, were speedily released because the government paid random, having realised that most of them were Muslims, except Leah Sharibu, whom the insurgents held back on account of her Christian faith.

But, in its reaction, the Presidency dismissed CAN’s claim on payment of ransom to Boko Haram, saying that the regime of Buhari did not pay any ransom for the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls.

It added, “We urge CAN to desist from disinformation which can further divide Nigerians. The letter and spirit of the Holy Bible do not support discord, which CAN’s allegations are liable to cause.

However, the Presidency said Buhari was committed to having the Chibok schoolgirls released and would pay ransom if his regime needed to do so.