The Local Ordinary of Makurdi finds it regrettable that the Nigerian government continues to do nothing about the persistent attacks in the West African nation.
He says that the behavior on the side of the government “says it all: complicity.” This way, the Catholic Bishop senses that the authorities may in a way be colluding with militants to mete suffering to defenseless locals.
He decries the silence of the international community amid the suffering in Africa’s most populous nation, saying, “Sadly, we continue to draw the attention of the outside world to the plan by Islamists to Islamize Christian territories countless times with little or no attention paid to our cry and call for help. Sometimes it appears we have been abandoned to the mercy of the jihadists.”
The Catholic Bishop says that the people of God in Nigeria have found themselves in “daily, incessant, brutal killings of innocent defenseless villagers.”
“No right-minded human being can look at these events and not get angry. Sometimes, I do not know how to react or what to wish for,” he says.
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Bishop Anagbe recalls that since 2012, Benue State, especially Guma, Makurdi, Gwer-West, and Agatu LGAs, has had to bear the brunt of “incessant, sustained attacks” on farming communities by militant groups who he says are hiding as Fulani herdsmen.
The attacks, the Catholic Bishop says, have resulted in massive displacement of huge populations that have then had to seek temporary shelter in internally displaced persons’ camps.
“Every year at this time, killings and displacement of communities hitherto safe and agriculturally viable begins to intensify,” he says, and explains that in Benue State, the period between end of February, March and April is the farming season. “Unfortunately, many villages are now under occupation and inaccessible to farm work,” he says.
“My people are mainly subsistence farmers whose farm work usually would suffice for feeding and sorting out their personal needs but going back to 2014 when the killings and displacement started to peak, thousands have been unable to return to their farms,” the Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Makurdi Diocese since March 2015 says.
He adds that the consequences of attacks against farmers in Benue State are immense, and include severe food shortages, inability to pay for basic needs of life, and to pay for medical or health care needs.
The attacks, Bishop Anagbe says, have also robbed victims of their dignity as they have to rely on donations to survive.
“There is the loss of human dignity and the prevalence of harmful practices as the thousands who are displaced and taking refuge in makeshift shelters have to rely on unsafe coping strategies to survive,” he says, and adds, “The situation of want has reduced many to a condition unworthy of human dignity often relying on food rations contributed by others whose economic conditions is not better off in any way.”
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.