NIGERIA’S Catholic bishops have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to do something urgently to correct a growing distrust among Nigerians that his government is not interested in combating the violence against Christians by Boko Haram and other Islamic groups.
Since 2009, Boko Haram has been waging a war against the Nigerian state as it seeks to establish a pure Islamic theocracy in the northeast of the country. Christians and churches have been one of its main targets, as it has blown up numerous faith houses across the north of the country, prompting Nigeria’s clergymen to cry out that they have been left unprotected by the government.
Over the weekend, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), met to review the current state of insecurity in the country and expressed alarm at the limited response. According to the clerics, there is doubt about the sincerity and ability of President Buhari’s administration to tackle Boko Haram and end the regrettable killings and kidnappings going on across the country.
As a way out of the helpless security situation, the bishops urged the president to seek the intervention of the global community towards ending the activities of Boko Haram terrorists. They also urged the western media to pay more attention to the atrocities being committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram and other armed groups against Christians.
CBCN president and the Archbishop of Benin, His Grace Archbishop Augustine Akubueze, said that lack of significant action to prevent attacks and secure the release of those being held in captivity by Boko Haram is fast breeding distrust and lack of confidence in the Buhari-led administration, especially its ability to act decisively and without bias. He said the bishops were embarking on a peaceful protest on behalf of over 50m Catholics and over 100m Christians in Nigeria.
Archbishop Akubueze said: “The guns of the terrorists do not know who is a member of PDP or APC. Mr President, Nigeria is a secular state, so act to reassure Nigerians that there is no agenda to Islamise Nigeria or to give Islam and Muslims undue advantage over other religions and their adherents.
“Your silence is sowing and breeding seeds of mistrust and the longer it stays this way, the more you lose those who could have given you the benefit if doubt. As things stands now, it appears only a few Nigerians can defend you with reasons and only few Nigerians can argue that your silence is not an endorsement if the barbaric actions of the terrorists and criminals.”
According to the CBCN, the government seems completely insensitive to the plight of Nigerians as it totally ignores the cries of those who elected it. On demands for the sack of service chiefs the bishops urged President Buhari to heed the advice of the many well-meaning Nigerians, including members of the National Assembly.
Yesterday, the bishops marched through the streets of Abuja before the commencement of their rosary procession organised to mourn all those killed or wounded by Boko Haram terrorists and armed herdsmen across the country. Their precession was led by Cardinal John Onayaikam, Archbishop Kaigama, Archibishop Akunueze, Bishop Hassan Kukah and other bishops.