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Nigeria’s Christian Leaders Warn of Looming Food Crisis amid “increasing insecurity”

Logo of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Christian leaders in the West African nation of Nigeria are warning of a looming food crisis in the country due to what they are calling “increasing insecurity.”

In their Wednesday, June 16 statement, the Church leaders under the auspices of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) say, “The increasing insecurity in the country has prevented farmers in many rural communities, particularly, in the north, from going to the farm.”

“The rains are here, but farmers cannot go to the farms for fear of being killed or abducted by bandits,” the Church leaders say.

They add, “The implication of this is that a looming food crisis stares us in the face and unless steps are taken to provide a secured environment for farmers to return to the farms, we may be in for more trouble with a hungry and frustrated population.”

According to CAN officials, “Thousands of Nigerians, especially in rural communities, have been rendered homeless by bandits.”

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“On a daily basis across the country, communities are being raided and people are being killed or abducted by rampaging bandits and other criminal elements,” CAN representatives say, adding that “the security situation has crippled the economy as travelling on the highways across the country has become a nightmare to Nigerians.”

In their June 16 statement, CAN officials also condemn reported attacks and abduction of children from schools in a number of Nigerian States.

“We fear that these attacks, if not checked, parents and children would be forced to abstain from school, given the recent cases in Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states, where parents of abducted school children paid hundreds of millions of naira to bandits for the release of their children,” they say in their statement signed by CAN Chairman for the North-East, Rev. Jechonia Albert.

Choosing to abstain from attending school, CAN officials say, will bring about a serious setback to the quest by the north to bridge the wide educational gap between it and the southern states of Nigeria.”

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began targeted attacks with the aim of turning Africa's most populous nation into an Islamic state.

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Since then, the group, one of the largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks on various targets including religious and political actors as well as civilians.

The situation of insecurity in the country has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia, who have, in recent times, frequently clashed with Christian farmers over grazing land.

Last month, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria’s Ecclesiastical Provinces of Onitsha and Owerri said that the West African nation is in “great danger” and urgent action is required to address the high levels of insecurity.

“We expect a stoppage of the carnage that is taking place in farmlands and in various locations,” the Catholic Bishops said in their May 11 statement, calling on the Federal government of Nigeria to “look into security matters and restrain those who are using weapons of various sorts to intimidate the people and to create this unrest.”

In their June 16 statement, CAN officials note that “the current state of the nation has plunged the vast majority of the people into hunger, poverty, frustration and despondency.”

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“We are particularly concerned about the security situation which appeared to have overwhelmed the government,” the Christian leaders in Nigeria reiterate.

They call on the Federal Government “to urgently address the security situation once and for all to liberate Nigerians from criminal gangs and their reign of terror.”