Emmanuel Ogebe: Nigerian Attorney
Emmanuel Ogebe likes to describe his native Nigeria as “the America of Africa.” Nigeria has the largest population of any country on that continent (equal to more than half that of the U.S.), its people divided between a mostly Muslim North and a mostly Christian South. In recent years, Muslim extremists—like the notorious Boko Haram, whose attacks include the kidnapping of 300 schoolgirls earlier this year—have been moving to exterminate Christians in the North.
“You have revival going on in the South,” Ogebe says, “an explosion of churches. But in the North you have this horrendous persecution, the largest killing of Christians anywhere in the world.” This year, more Christians were murdered in northern Nigeria—about 350 a month—than in the rest of the world combined. Under Boko Haram, entire states have eradicated virtually all Christians and churches; areas that once had thousands of pastors now have only a few dozen.
What is happening is essentially “ethnic cleansing,” Ogebe says, “except this time, it’s ‘religious cleansing.’ This is an evil unlike anything that we’ve seen in recent times. The world needs to rise and stand against this and crush this.” He and other Nigerian leaders are looking to U.S. Christians for help. Alliance Defending Freedom has financially supported Ogebe’s work, which produced an in-depth report on Boko Haram that led the U.S. State Department to declare it a terrorist group, freezing the group’s international assets, and posting warrants for its leaders.
Nigeria’s president has also called for constitutional reform; ADF is working to help Ogebe and other Christian attorneys secure protections for religious freedom throughout the country. Recalling how, as a young man, he was tortured and imprisoned by government officials, Ogebe now expresses endless gratitude for all ADF is doing to bring justice and freedom to his nation.
“When no one else was standing with us for the persecuted,” he says, “when my heart was overwhelmed, I prayed for God to ‘lead me to the rock that is higher than I am,’ and that was when ADF came into the picture.”