Violence in Plateau State, Nigeria – from FIDES News Agency
AFRICA / NIGERIA – “We denounce all perpetrators of this shameful conspiracy,” say Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan
Abuja (Agenzia Fides) – The Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan completely denounce the recent incidents in Jos in a statement sent to Fides, published at the close of their meeting held January 18-19, 2010.
“Our country, in the last few months has spent a huge amount of time and resources on a purported rebranding campaign,” the Bishops write. “Of late, government, groups and individuals have berated the United States of America over its reaction to the unfortunate case of Farouk Abdulmutallab, a young Nigerian, accused of attempting to commit a terrible terrorist act,” the statement continues. “We shouted ourselves hoarse to convince the whole world that we are no terrorist nation. Yet, unfortunately, the most recent religious crisis in Jos, Plateau State, has badly exposed our hypocrisy and ineptitude. Some extremists claiming to be Muslims suddenly set upon Christians in their Churches and homes, killing and burning. We as a nation have yet again been caught napping, and as a consequence, precious lives and property have been lost.”
“It is sad that such occurrences in the recent past have not been convincingly investigated and addressed and are not found preventable. This persistent situation does not augur well for a nation claiming to be on the path of development and national integration,” the Bishops continue.
“We are compelled, yet again, therefore to sympathize with the innocent victims of the current crisis and pray for the repose of the souls of the dead. We denounce all perpetrators of this shameful conspiracy against a particular segment of our nation and we call on the competent authorities to act decisively before things get out of hand. We also call on all religious leaders to speak up with courage to denounce and oppose religious extremism and fanaticism wherever they are found…May Mary, Mother of Good Counsel, intercede for us before God’s throne that Nigeria may rediscover her unity, prosperity, strength and progress in the forthcoming years,” the statement concludes. (LM) (Agenzia Fides 20/1/2010)
Complete version of Bishops’ statement (in English)
AFRICA/NIGERIA – “The spread of false information increases the violence,” Archbishop of Jos tells Fides
Jos (Agenzia Fides) – “The spread of false information incites the people and increases the violence. There should be attention placed so as not to spread news that has not been verified,” Agenzia Fides was told by Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos, the capital of Plateau State (central Nigeria), where in recent days there have been serious clashes that have claimed hundreds of lives. “The situation has returned to calm. Police and army are patrolling the streets of the city and have imposed a curfew. I cannot give figures on the number of victims, how many houses, churches, or mosques have been burned, in part because of the curfew that does not allow me to move about freely. I fear that both Christians and Muslims will inflate figures regarding their victims. The authorities should be impartial and honest in presenting data on casualties and damage to structures,” says the Archbishop of Jos.
Archbishop Kaigama clarifies the Fides news report from yesterday (see Fides 20/1/2010): “It was affirmed that the spark that had caused the violence was from an attack and fire started at a Catholic Church. This has not happened. It is true that a Protestant church was burned. From what I have so far managed to find out, several churches have been burned, but most are not Catholic. I repeat: there are too many rumors, including one on the destruction of the Cathedral, which is absolutely not true.”
To calm the people, yesterday (January 20) several Christian leaders (including Archbishop Kaigama) and Muslim leaders held a meeting. “Next Monday (January 25), the Islamic-Christian Joint Committee will meet to assess the situation and take measures to avoid similar incidents from happening again,” concluded Bishop Kaigama. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 21/1/2010)
AFRICA/NIGERIA – “Human life is sacred,” say Christian and Islamic leaders of Nigeria, condemning violence in Jos
Abuja (Agenzia Fides) – “Human life is sacred and belongs to God alone to give and to take away. It must therefore be respected, protected and preserved by all men and women who claim to believe in God under any name,” affirms a joint statement signed by Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, President of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), and Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, Sultan of Sokoto and President, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).
In the statement, the leaders of the two most important associations, Christian and Islamic, express their strong denunciation of violence in the city of Jos, capital of the Plateau State (see Fides 20 and 21/1/2010) and invite all to work for peace and reconciliation.
The two leaders met in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, along with other religious representatives, under the auspices of the Nigerian Inter-religious Council (NIREC) which is a council of Christians and Muslims who seek to promote interreligious dialogue.
“Settling any kind of grievances through violence and bloodshed is ungodly. Rather than solve problems of misunderstanding in any society, violence and bloodshed only compounds them,” the document affirms. “In the name of the religious communities that we represent, we vigorously condemn the new wave of violence that has once again erupted in and around the city of Jos in recent days.”
“We commit all those who have been killed to the mercy of God. We offer our sincere condolences to all the bereaved. At the same time, we fully support and reinforce the passionate appeal of the Inter-religious Committee of Plateau State, issued in the very heat of the events, calling on all to eschew violence, seek peace and work for it.”
The statement says: “NIREC observed that the primary responsibility of ensuring the security of life and property rests squarely with government and commended the efforts so far made by government at all levels to contain the crisis. It however appealed to government and the various security agencies to remain vigilant not only to prevent a spread of the crisis to other parts of the country, but to also fish out and deal with not only the material perpetrators of violence but those who recruit, arm and support them.”
“If Nigeria must pull itself out of this problem of civil disturbances and violent communal clashes, security agencies must not treat perpetrators of these acts like ‘untouchables’ or ‘sacred cows’ any longer,” the statement concluded. (LM) (Agenzia Fides 22/1/2010)
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