INFORMATION minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed has conceded that Boko Haram and Islamic State in West African Province (Iswap) have been targeting churches in the recent campaigns saying they are doing to so create religious discord across Nigeria.
Since 2009, Boko Haram and its offshoot Iswap, have been waging a war against the Nigerian state as they seek to establish a purist Islamic caliphate in the northeast of the country. Although the military has taken back some of the vast territories the terrorists held, they still have the capacity to launch terror attacks and sporadic raids.
Of late, both Boko Haram and Iswap have been targeting churches across northern Nigeria but the government has denied that it is an attack on Christianity, saying the terrorists attack all faiths. Speaking on Abuja yesterday, Alhaji Mohammed finally conceded that the terrorists have changed tact of late, focusing on Christians and churches.
Alhaji Mohammed said relentless and brutal attacks by the military against the two terrorists sects have forced them to change their pattern of indiscriminate onslaught on Nigerians, focusing on Christians and churches. He insisted that the unceasing pounding of the terrorists and their allies by the military had forced them to lose territories they once occupied, collected taxes, installed and deposed emirs.
“Recall that Boko Haram insurgents did not discriminate between Christians and Muslims when they carried out their attacks in the past. Churches and mosques, Christians and Muslims were attacked without discrimination as when they targeted motor parks, the religion, gender, ethnicity or political leaning of the victims didn’t matter, as long as they inflicted the maximum damage to lives and property.
“But in the wake of a renewed onslaught by our tireless military against Boko Haram and their Iswap allies in recent times, the insurgents have apparently changed their strategy. They have started targeting Christians and Christian villages for a specific reason, which is to trigger a religious war and throw the nation into chaos.
“Apparently, they have realised how emotive and divisive religion can be, when exploited by unscrupulous persons. Lest I am misunderstood, let me repeat, the insurgents, delude themselves as Muslims whereas they are nothing more than blood-thirsty, rapacious killers who subscribe to no religion and have recently started targeting Christians with a view to sowing the seed of confusion between the two great religions.
“This does not in any way signify that they have stopped attacking Muslims. However, they seem to now have a deliberate policy of attacking Christians,” Alhaji Mohammed explained.