By La Croix International staff | Nigeria
“Our country now looks like a boiling pot that everyone wants to escape from”, says Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto
Atrocities against Christians have gone unchecked
The bishop’s allegations have been corroborated by other sources who reported that the atrocities were perpetrated by Nigeria’s main Islamic Jihadists — Militant Fulani Herdsmen, Boko Haram and its offshoot ISWAP, said the civil rights group. The Nigerian civil rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law or Intersociety, has reported that their investigations showed that in March 2020 no fewer than 350 Christians were hacked to death and that 11,500-12,000 Christians were killed by the Boko Haram and Jihadist herdsmen since June 2015. No less than 32,000 Christians were killed by the Jihadists since 2009.
Atrocities against Christians have gone unchecked and risen to alarming numbers with the country’s security forces and concerned political actors looking the other way or colluding with the Jihadists, it said.The group alleged that houses burnt or destroyed were in their hundreds and that the killers have intensified their anti-Christian violence in the old Middle Belt and Northeast regions of the country. “Boko Haram since 2009 has been attacking mainly Christians and collaterally extending such attacks to Muslim targets and Government facilities including its security establishments in revenge for Government successes against the terror group” the Intersociety group said.
Bishop Kukah, in his statement, said that the Nigerian military’s arbitrary use of violence has contributed towards a culture of corruption. “The military, perhaps even worse than the colonial state, destroyed the very foundations of our democracy, bureaucracy and public service by introducing a culture of arbitrariness and violence as a means to power. A combination of these laid the foundation for corruption as the worst manifestation of a culture of total lack of accountability,” he said.
Criticism of how the country is run
It is not the first time that the bishop has criticized the government. After Jihadists released a video showing the killing of 11 Christians in Nigeria’s Borno state on Christmas Day, Bishop Kukah said the government is “using the levers of power to guarantee the supremacy of Islam.” Bishop Kukah in a July townhall meeting had also been scathing in his criticism of how the country is run, saying it is yet to fully embrace democratic norms and values. “We are mistaken in assuming that we have had a transition from dictatorship to democracy. We still haven’t,” he said. “This is why we are showing all kinds of systemic malfunctioning. When we talk about political parties, we have assumptions. The truth of the matter is that in our own case, in Nigeria, we have the greed and the political interest,” Bishop Kukah said.
Bishop Kukah most recent remarks are a follow up of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Day October 1 and very much in keeping with what the thinking of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria. The Catholic bishops in Nigeria have also criticized the federal government for failing to provide security in parts of the country witnessing ongoing anti-Christian violence. In view of the ongoing violence, the bishops have declared 40 days of prayers against terrorism. They called on Catholics to join in praying Aug. 22 – Sept. 30 September, the eve of Nigeria’s Independence Day. “We, the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria have been following the recent events in Nigeria closely. We continue to hear of increasing insecurity and unabated acts of terrorism in Northern Nigeria. So, we are all tired of this situation,” read a statement signed by CBCN President, Archbishop Augustine Obiora.
“We do not want any politician to politicize the killing of Nigerians. There should be one response from everyone, and that is; the killings must stop,” the bishops said.