“Why do you allow your citizens to be killed?” Priest in Nigeria Decries State Inaction

Fr. Remigius Ihyula comforts a camp resident. Credit: ACN

The Federal government of Nigeria has ignored the plight of the people of God, a Catholic Priest in the West African nation said, and decried government’s inaction amid cases of Nigerians being “butchered and slaughtered daily”.

In an interview with the Catholic charity and Pontifical foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Fr. Remigius Ihyula faulted the Muhammadu Buhari-led government for targeting and intimidating those who speak against violence.

"In Nigeria, when people say injustice should be addressed, they become a target," Fr. Ihyula says in the ACN report published Tuesday, March 14.

The member of the Clergy of Nigeria’s Makurdi Diocese further says, “Show me any place on Earth where people are displaced in their thousands and their government or president doesn’t visit. Our people are butchered and slaughtered daily, and our president does not come to see them.”

He continues in reference to Governor Samuel Ortom of Nigeria’s Benue State, “When our governor wants to speak about this, the president shuts him up. He says it’s an age-old thing. We ask him: why do you allow your citizens to be killed?”


The Nigerian Catholic Priest who is at the helm of the Foundation for Justice, Development and Peace (FJDP) of Makurdi Diocese goes on to say he is concerned about his own safety.

He says, “If, by chance, our leaders read this interview, I will become a target. For them, I am the problem – not the president who has failed to do his duties, who has failed to protect his citizens – but me, for speaking the truth."

“I am a Catholic Priest. If you kill me, you are killing one person. If you target me, you target one person. But I’m not going to live forever, anyway, and the truth should be told,” Fr. Ihyula says. 

He decries the atrocities in Benue State under the watch of President Buhari, saying, “The President has heard and seen a lot of news about Benue State; can he come here for once and see what is happening? Do our people deserve to be punished like this?”

Fr. Ihyula says insecurity in Benue State, a territory covered by the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, is worsening. 

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“What is called Fulani violence should be called Fulani terrorist attacks on innocent villages. Some say their motive is religion; others say that they’ve come into the Benue valley because of climate change. But it’s not because of climate change, because that is a factor all over the country, and people are not killing each other everywhere,” he says. 

He adds, “Our interpretation is that there are terrorists who use these herdsmen to displace the local population.”

In Benue State, the terrorists have reduced the people to begging despite the State being considered the food basket of Nigeria, said the Coordinator of the FJDP. 

“It is the region with the highest agricultural productivity and caters to the food needs of people in Nigeria and beyond. Crops feed farmers’ families, and the sale of produce pays for medical fees, tuition and other vital things. But terrorist activities have denied Nigerians these opportunities,” he says. 

The Nigerian Catholic Priest adds that the people “now beg and rely on non-governmental organizations and, in some cases, private individuals who give them food where they are encamped or hiding” as they cannot go back to their farms.


The terrorists are not only destroying crops but also killing people and occupying their lands, a situation that has caused “hunger and hardship,” he decries.

To help alleviate the suffering of the people, Fr. Ihyula says that FJDP has been visiting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the camps and providing for their basic needs.

He recounts atrocities at the IDPs camps, saying, “Some camp residents have suffered multiple displacements. Others have seen their loved ones slaughtered, shot at, and butchered like animals.”

“We have staff who give psycho-social counseling to address their trauma, and we also provide spiritual help because the Christian faith sometimes helps people heal better and faster,” he says, adding, “If not for the Christian faith, I am sure that many people would have taken up arms to go back and fight.”

The Church is also providing education for the students in the camps, Fr. Ihyula says, and adds, “We also teach students entrepreneurial skills so that when they are out of school, they have something to fall back on.” 

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In the March 14 ACN report, Fr. Ihyula expresses the hope that the new leaders in Nigeria will address insecurity without bias. 

“We only pray that God gives us leaders who will not be biased and help those driven from their villages to go back and continue their lives. Our present leadership, it seems, neglects their plight, because these people don’t speak their language or worship like they do. It’s as if they are lesser human beings and so whatever happens to them is none of their concern,” Fr. Ihyula laments.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.