Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "When we learnt that a Catholic church was attacked in Sokoto, it became clear that that attack was on Bishop Matthew Kukah because he is the one who is like a voice to the voiceless in this country. He is speaking truth to power every day", says Chris Annge, Vice President of the Kaduna State of CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) in challenging the threats against His Exc. Msgr. Mathew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto after he had forcefully denounced the killing of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a Christian student, lynched on May 12 for "alleged blasphemy" (see Fides, 18/5/2022). Msgr. Kukah had defined the lynching of the girl "a criminal, inhumane act and that it has nothing to do with religion", underlining that "Christians and Muslims have always lived together peacefully over the years".
The police had arrested two suspects, but the day after the arrest, several hundred people demonstrated in Sokoto to demand their release, destroying shops and clashing with law enforcement. Precisely for this reason, in order to contain the unrest, the authorities had imposed a total curfew in the city. While denying that his residence was attacked, Archbishop Kukah had prudently suspended the celebration of masses in the diocese, after two parishes had been attacked and devastated.
"We are calling on the Nigeria government to charge those in charge of carrying guns or agencies responsible for taking care of us, to be up and doing and protect the life of Msgr. Kukah and every believer as well as every Nigerian from this menace. It is unacceptable", said Annge, who stressed that Nigeria is a secular state with laws that guarantee freedom of association for all citizens and reiterated the need for religious tolerance.
In the meantime, the violence in various areas of Nigeria does not stop. On May 20, some parishioners from the church of St. Michael's Agasha in the diocese of Makurdi are among the dozens of people killed when Fulani armed militants attacked villages in the Nigerian state of Benue.
The assault, unlike the previous ones, took place in broad daylight. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 24/5/2022)