YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon – Some Republican U.S. senators have again voiced disappointment at the US Department of State for its refusal to designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).

In a March 6 letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the senators – Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio and Mike Braun – said the killing of Christians in Nigeria has continued to defy basic morality.

The senators noted that the “horrific slaughter of Nigerian Christians around Christmas Day” should have spurred Blinken to action, but the diplomat “again failed to meet the moment.”

“We remain very concerned about the deteriorating state of religious freedom in Nigeria and your Department’s continued failure to appropriately respond using the tools at your disposal,” the letter states.

“During a Christmas season that should have been abundant with joy and peace, Christians in several Nigerian farming villages faced one of the deadliest massacres in the country’s recent history. From December 23 to December 25, 2023, Islamic extremists murdered at least 140 people, including women and children, with an untold number wounded and displaced as a result of this senseless violence. It was a targeted attack carried out with shocking brutality,” the letter states.

Noting violence against Christians runs rampant in Nigeria, the senators cited reports which suggest roughly 5,000 Nigerian Christians have been murdered in religiously motivated violence in each of the last two years.

In April 11, 2023, the Catholic-inspired NGO, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) said 52,250 Christians had been killed in Nigeria since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgents began their murderous campaign to set up a caliphate across the Sahel.

It said 34,000 moderate Muslims were also killed.

“30,250 of those have been killed since 2015, when President Muhammadu Buhari came to power,” underscoring the administration’s Islamization pull. Nigeria, a country of 222 million people, is almost equally divided between Christians and Muslims.

The recent letter by the U.S. senators is similar to the one addressed to Blinken in 2022 urging the administration to immediately reinstate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern because of the worsening Christian persecution in the country. A year earlier, the U.S. State Department removed Nigeria from that list.

The pressure being mounted by the senators has been welcomed by major Catholic voices in Nigeria.

Emeka Umeagbalasi, the board chair of the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) told Crux that it was “gratifying” to see U.S. senators call their own government out on its lethargy when it comes to the killing of Christians in Nigeria.

“It is the right step in the right direction,” he said.

“We commend the U.S. Senators, particularly the Republicans, for their courage and non-partisanship and their conscience in taking up that moral responsibility.”

Some analysts have suggested that the Biden administration, just like Obama’s, might be propping up the corrupt Nigeria regime in order to secure the means to exert influence throughout West Africa.

Nigeria occupies a crucial position in the geopolitical landscape, serving as a linchpin for influencing neighboring nations. The United States and China both view Nigeria as a strategic ally, aiming to gain access to other countries through its doors.

Umeagbalasi said as Americans head to the polls in November, the killing of Nigerian Christians could become a major talking point.

“The issue of the killing of Christians in Nigeria should become a strategic campaign issue. I believe that when Republicans take a public stance on the issue of the killing of Christians in Nigeria and make it a key foreign policy issue for its candidate, that one alone has the capacity of drawing millions of votes in favor of the Republican and conversely, diminish the popularity of the Biden administration,” he told Crux.

He asserted that if Donald Trump eventually wins a second term, the issue of Christian persecution could be central to his foreign policy objectives.

“If Donald Trump comes to power, there will definitely be a major shift in American policy toward Nigeria with regard to the killing of Christians,” Emeka claimed.