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Nigerian Catholic Bishop Faults Government for Years of “silence” amid Loss of Human Life

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

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese in Nigeria has faulted the Federal Government of the West African nation for year of silence amid kidnappings and loss of human life.

In his Christmas Message shared with ACI Africa December 26, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah says the government seems to have left the fate of Nigerians in the hands of “evil men.”

“Today, after over seven years, our over one hundred Chibok Girls are still marooned in the ocean of uncertainty. Over three years after, Leah Sharibu is still unaccounted for. Students of the Federal Government College, Yauri, and children from Islamiyya School, Katsina, are still in captivity,” Bishop Kukah says, and adds, “This does not include hundreds of other children whose captures were less dramatic.”

For the Nigerian Catholic Bishop, “Nothing expresses the powerlessness of the families like the silence of state at the federal level.”

Nigerians have lost count of hundreds of individuals “who have been kidnapped and live below the radar of publicity,” Bishop Kukah says.

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“We have before us a government totally oblivious to the cherished values of the sacredness of life,” he further says, and continues, “Tales and promises about planned rescues have since deteriorated into mere whispers.”

The Local Ordinary of Sokoto further notes that the silence of the government was only feeding the “ugly beast of complicity in the deeds of the evil people who have suspended the future of entire generations of Nigeria’s children.”

“Every day, we hear of failure of intelligence, yet, those experts who provide intelligence claim that they have always done their duty diligently and efficiently,” Bishop Kukah says in his Christmas message, and poses, “Does the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria not believe that he owes parents and citizens answers as to where our children are and when they are coming home?”

He further probes, “Does the President of Nigeria not owe us an explanation and answers as to when the abductions, kidnappings, brutality, senseless, and endless massacres of our citizens will end? When will our refugees from Cameroon, Chad or Niger return home?”

“We need urgent answers to these questions,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop who was appointed a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in January says.

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He urges the Presidency and those at the helm of States “to develop a more honest, open and robust strategy for ending the humiliation of our people and our restoring social order to our people. We have borne enough humiliation as communities and a country.”

This time last year, the Catholic Bishop who has been vocal against bad governance in Nigeria recalls raising an alarm about the perilous state of affairs in the Northern part of the country, a stance that resulted in “all kinds of accusations … especially by Northern brethren.”

The 2020 Christmas Message of the Bishop of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese has sparked controversies in the West African nation, some quarters accusing the Bishop of “very serious crimes like treason and incitement for a coup.”

He also recalls that when Catholic Bishops protested openly against the killings in March 2020, they were accused of “acting against the government with religious motives being imputed to their noble intentions.”

“Now, we are fully in the grip of evil. Today, a feeling of vindication only saddens me as I have watched the north break into a cacophony of quarrelsome blame games over our tragic situation,” Bishop kukah bemoans. 

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He continues, “A catalogue of unprecedented cruelty has been unleashed on innocent citizens across the Northern states. In their sleep, on their farmlands, in their markets, or even on the highway, innocent citizens have been mowed down and turned into burnt offerings to gods of evil.”

“Communities have been turned into gulags of misery, death, pain, and perfidy. We must move quickly before Arewa, our beloved Arewa, descends into Arewanistan,” he cautions in his 2021 Christmas Message shared with ACI Africa.

The Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Sokoto Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in September 2011 further notes that the “challenge before us religious leaders now is to rescue religion from the clutches of those who are simply keen to use it to feed their ambitions for power.”

“Religious leaders must stand together and condemn lack of fairness to any group because the powerful and the powerless all need to be saved. If we are to learn any lesson today from the tragedy we are in, it is the consequences of the mismanagement of our identities,” he says.

Bishop Kukah adds that the greatest lesson from “our collective tragedy in Nigeria is for us to move away from thinking that we can triumph as members of one faith, a clan, or a tribe.”

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“A good society has to build bridges instead of walls, use differences to build a beautiful coat of unity like that of Joseph,” he says and continues, “This is why Jesus taught us to pray to ‘Our Father,’ and not ‘My Father.’”