Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "There is massive insecurity. People are being killed every day. The bandits and the terrorists seem to have a free hand. We don't know where the security forces are". This is the alarm launched by the Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan on the occasion of the XIX Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of the Bishops' Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) which ended on July 31 in Accra, Ghana (see Fides, 1/8/2022).
"Nigeria’s security situation is getting out of hand. Nobody is safe, not just Christians. It is as if the government has lost control", he said, underlining the unprecedented levels of insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation. Cardinal Onayekan said that Christians and Muslims are victims of violence perpetrated by "criminals who go around illegally killing innocent people".
Since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency emerged with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic state, Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity. Boko Haram, one of largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks on various targets, including religious and political groups as well as civilians. The insecurity situation has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia, who have been clashing frequently with Christian farmers. "They are killing more of Muslims than Christians, which confirms that this is not a war of Muslims against Christians. Many Muslims are suffering as much as we are suffering", he said.
"When a Priest is killed, the whole world hears. But when 50 villagers are killed somewhere in the middle of Katsina state, nobody hears. We are certain that more Muslims are dying than Christians because the center of the violence is in the Muslim dominated northern states".
The Cardinal goes on to say that it is no longer possible to continue like this "if the government doesn't rule well, then there is open space for all types of non-state criminal elements whether they are Boko Haram or whoever. This is not a matter of Christians and Muslims. It is a matter of respect and defense of human life". "Unfortunately - explains the Cardinal - many of the perpetrators have continued to carry the banner of Islam. My own response to it is that whatever anybody may have as an agenda, the Christian must remain firmly Christian and know how to be faithful in your religion. When it comes to defending one’s self, we must start working at ways and means of defending ourselves against criminals who go around illegally killing innocent people. Our religion does not say that we should sit down and allow ourselves to be killed. We have every right to defend ourselves!"
The Cardinal concluded by encouraging Christians to remain faithful to their calling, saying: "be a good Christian wherever you are. If you are a Christian and you are in the armed forces, do your good work to protect people".
Nigerian voters will be expected to vote for the President, Vice President, Senators and Members of Parliament in polls that are scheduled to take place between February and March 2023. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 3/8/2022)