Nigeria’s Government “either helpless or uninterested” in Addressing Insecurity: Bishop

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese has told the U.S. Congress that the failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria to address insecurity in the West African nation is either due to helplessness of disinterestedness.

In the Wednesday, July 14 virtual address to the 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C., Bishop Kukah said the Muhammadu Buhari-led Government has failed to handle insecurity that it promised to do before ascending to power in 2015.

“The whole country, especially the North, is invaded by armed bandits and kidnappers who attack communities at will. The fact that the government seems to be either helpless or uninterested in dealing decisively with these people has added more confusion,” the Nigerian Bishop said.

Nigerians are yet to see any tangible move towards tackling insecurity, he said in his July 14 virtual presentation titled, "The Crisis of Religious Freedom in Nigeria."

Targeted attacks on Christians in Nigeria have been a recurring experience of many years, the Bishop noted, adding, however, that the spate of the attacks had seen a steady rise in the last 10 years.


The Islamic extremists, he said, have mainly targeted Christian institutions in the North, “indoctrinate the children and end up converting the girls to wives, cooks, spies, sexual slaves and so on.”

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country, Africa’s most populous nation, into an Islamic State.

According to a July 13 report, records drawn from Kaduna State Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs show that 222 people have been killed, and 774 others kidnapped in the Nigerian State in a three-month period, from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.

“The story of Leah Sharibu suggests very clearly that there is, in many instances, a relationship between the conditions in which people find themselves and the faith they believe in,” Bishop Kukah said July 14 of the only remaining student abducted by ISIS-WA from the 2018 Dapchi school kidnapping who has not been released.

“In 2020, some of our priests in the North were killed. The extremists kidnapped our children and forcefully converted them to Muslims. What is significant here is that we are in a democracy; with weak structures and institutions,” the Nigerian Bishop further recalled during the virtual event.

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He added, “These are existential issues. So, we require practical assistance that can help us and our children.”

Bishop Kukah was addressing a dinner of the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C. that was hosted by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International.

The July 13-15 summit is a gathering of religious and civic leaders from around the world to discuss religious persecution and promote global religious freedom.

The Catholic Bishop who was recently appointed to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development as a member further bemoaned the practice of nepotism in government appointments.

President Buhari, he said, is “deliberately appointing more people of his ethnicity and faith into political offices.”


“The contradiction here is that the President has blatantly pursued nepotistic agenda and policies that show very clearly his preference for men and women of his faith,” Bishop Kukah who has served as a member of Nigeria’s Truth Commission, and as chairman of the Committee on Interreligious Dialogue in Nigeria and West Africa said.

The Local Ordinary of Sokoto Diocese who doubles as Nigeria’s Secretary of the National Peace Committee explained, “For the first time in Nigeria, the people heading the three arms of government; President, Senate President, Speaker and Chief Justice are all Muslims.”

He continued, “These are all fine gentlemen, but that is not the point. The level of rivalry between Christians and Muslims has worsened. This kind of situation has never happened before.”

While the 68-year-old Bishop admitted that he shares the “pessimism” of those who say the West African nation is collapsing amid rampant insecurity, nepotism, and government corruption, he said that “as a Christian, I believe in the Resurrection.”

The challenge in Nigeria, he said, “is one of the quality of leadership.”

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“Nigeria may be a collapsing state, but those who want Nigeria’s oil are feeding fat and doing pretty well,” Bishop Kukah said July 14, and added, “You see the possibly of Nigeria’s greatness in the lives of ordinary people.”