Catholic Bishop in Nigeria Blames Country’s Cycle of Killings on Inciteful Reporting

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese during the April 13 Mass. Crédit : Catholic Broadcast Commission of Nigeria

The Bishop of Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Sokoto has blamed the unending killings in various parts of the West African country on inciteful reporting that identifies victims with their religious affiliations.

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah made reference to the August 14 attack and killing of 23 commuters at Rukuba road, in Jos North Local Government Area of Nigeria’s Plateau State, with victims of the attack being described by their religious affiliation.

“In Nigeria you die either as a Muslim or a Christian. Nigerian citizens don’t die,” Bishop Kukah said in his Sunday, August 15 homily.

The Nigerian Bishop added, “We know that when you say that Muslims have been killed, you boil the blood of Muslims and when you say that Christians have been killed, you boil the blood of Christians so as to prepare for revenge. These are some of the reasons why violence continues in Nigeria.”

A media report on the weekend attack read, “After an attack on a convoy of 90 Muslims in the outskirts of the capital of Nigeria's central Plateau state Jos that killed at least 22, victims are buried and motorists are still stuck on Rukuba road where the attack took place.”


Africa News further reports, “Northwest and central Nigeria have for years struggled with violence between mainly Muslim nomadic herders and Christian farmers over control of resources, water and land.”

A survivor of the attack said the assault happened along Rukuba road, on the outskirts of Jos, the capital of Nigeria’s Plateau State.

The Muslims were returning from Bauchi State, he said, after attending an event to celebrate the Islamic New Year.

Government authorities in Nigeria have condemned the attack, with the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari directing security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the crime.

The attack has also attracted countrywide condemnation, with the leadership of the Jama’Atu Nasril Islam (JNI), an umbrella group for the Nigerian Muslim community headquartered in the city of Kaduna, warning of the rise in ethno-religious conflict in the country.

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Led by their Secretary-General, Dr Khalid Abubakar Aliyu who also serves as Sultan of Sokoto, the Muslim leaders blamed politicians for the August 14 incident, which they noted could snowball into ethno-religious conflict, if not urgently managed.

“We call on governments and the security agencies not to be deterred on the search for the Rukuba Road assassins and whosoever is found wanting should be dealt with accordingly. The Plateau State Government should also be more proactive in saving the lives and property of innocent Nigerians,” they said in the August 15 statement.

In their call for prayers from the entire Muslim community, the leaders added, “Muslims, particularly those residing in Plateau, should be steadfast with supplications, as all hands must be on deck to make Plateau State a peaceful and tourist attraction it used to be, for the benefit of the State and all peace-loving Nigerians.”

The Muslim leaders call on Christians in Plateau State and Northern Nigeria “to be wary of the diabolical attempts by some frustrated politicians to ignite an all-out ethno-religious conflict in Northern Nigeria.”

They further say that no Muslim is responsible for attacks in regions that have been said to experience religious extremism, and add, “Many states in Northern Nigeria, especially Nasarawa and Kaduna States, and by extension North-Western States, have suffered from the scourge of herders and farmers conflict. It is on records that Muslims in these States have never blocked highways or roads to attack Christians or other non-Muslims in their localities.”


“Therefore, a stitch in time saves nine and nobody should live under any illusion of having a monopoly of violence,” the JNI members say in their call to the government to act fast to restore calm in the embattled Nigerian State.

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Plateau chapter have expressed solidarity with victims of the August 14 attack and urged security agencies to act fast to nab those behind the killings.

“We wish to express deep pain over the recent attacks in Riyom, Jos North, Barakin Ladi and Bassa, leading to loss of lives and property,” CAN chairman in the State, Rev. Fr. Polycarp Lubo, said in an August 15 statement.

Fr. Lubo added, “The leadership of CAN totally condemns these attacks and pleads with security agents to ensure normalcy is restored.”

“Every human life is precious and the unlawful killing of any human being, regardless of their identity and affiliation, is unacceptable. We mourn with the families of those who lost their loved ones, as well as those who have been displaced or suffered harm of any kind,” he further said.

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Members of the Christian association, Fr. Lubo added, would continue to work toward ensuring peaceful coexistence in Nigeria’s Plateau State.

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.