Nigeria “groans in pain”, Catholic Bishops Bemoan, Condemn Recent Train Attack

Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). Credit: CBCN

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have condemned the March 28 Abuja-Kaduna train attack and bemoaned “bloody attacks” in the country that result in citizens of the West African nation “mourning with anguished hearts”.

On March 28, gunmen reportedly attacked a train traveling from Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to Kaduna and opened fire that resulted in the death of seven passengers; 22 people were reportedly injured during the incident.

In their collective statement issued Monday, April 4, members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) say Nigeria “groans in pain” amid “brutal slaughtering of fellow citizens”.

They express their solidarity and spiritual closeness with victims of the train attack, and call upon the Federal government to rise to its primary responsibility of protecting the life and property of its citizens

“We unequivocally condemn those brutal acts of barbarism and brazen assault on our sovereign dignity as a nation,” CBCN members say.


They add, “The news of the recent attacks on trains by terrorists has attracted public outcry, outrage and grief. Nigerians are still mourning with anguished hearts over the brutal slaughtering of fellow citizens during those bloody attacks.”

“At this moment of nationwide sadness and sorrow, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria stand together in solidarity with the bereaved, the wounded, and those still missing,” they say in their message titled, “Nigeria: A Nation Groans in Pains.”

The Catholic Bishop implore that God grants “eternal rest to the departed, consolation to bereaved families, healing to the wounded and a safe return to those still missing.”

They say the attack on one of the safest routes to Kaduna State shows that Nigerians traveling to the Northern Nigeria State are no longer safe.

“The train route from Abuja to Kaduna has been the safety net for thousands of travelers commuting between both cities. Now terrorists have proven that no one is safe on that route anymore,” the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria lament in their April 4 statement.

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They highlight the March 26 incident where over 200 terrorists on motorbikes reportedly rode  through the runway of the Kaduna International Airport “in broad daylight” and killed at least one person as one of the cases of heightened insecurity in the State.

CBCN members say the train and airport attacks “occurred shortly after the incessant brutal attacks and killings by faceless terrorists in communities of Southern Kaduna and many other parts of the Middle Belt.”

“All these atrocities against the people and the nation happen without a single arrest or prosecution seem to give credibility to the widespread belief that the government is complacent, helpless or compromising,” Catholic Bishops in Nigeria say.

“Considering the billions of Naira appropriated for security and the fight against terrorism in recent times,” the Catholic Church leaders say, “It is difficult to imagine that a large number of terrorists, who unleashed terror on unarmed and law-abiding citizens, can disappear in broad daylight without a trace.”

They add, “It is indeed very hard to believe that our security apparatus lacks intelligence or the ability to fight and defeat terrorists in our nation.”


“Nigerians are sick of flimsy excuses and bogus promises from the government to deal with terrorists,” the Catholic Bishops say in their collective statement.

They call upon the Muhammadu Buhari-led government, “as a mark of honor”, to rise to its primary responsibility of “protecting the life and property of its citizens.”

“Our country has long teetered on the precipice of a failed state,” CBCN members say, and add, “Government should, therefore, stop trying to play the ostrich as the nation profusely bleeds and take urgent steps to unmask these marauding terrorists and their sponsors without further delay.”

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the West African nation into an Islamic state.

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

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The insecurity situation has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia, who have been clashing frequently with Christian farmers.

Abductions for ransom have also become common in the country.

In their April 4 collective statement signed by CBCN President, Archbishop-elect Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, the Bishops also express concern about the “lingering face-off between government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) with its frustrating effects on young students, whose academic aspirations and ambitions are disrupted by a strike with no end in sight.” 

“Our hearts also reach out to many Nigerian citizens who languish for hours in long queues at gas stations to buy fuel at exorbitant prices,” the Catholic Bishops say, and continue, “With severe hardship surrounding them at every turn, our countrymen and women seem condemned to a life of wanton suffering.”

They bemoan the fact that citizens of Africa’s most populous nation “groan daily in pain with anguished hearts and seem resigned to a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.”

“This is totally unacceptable,” CBCN members say. They add, “We, therefore, call on the government to be moved by the plight of our people and take effective measures to liberate them from avoidable pains and agony.”

The Catholic Bishops continue, “As a dark cloud of uncertainty seems to be hanging over our nation, many Nigerians are strongly tempted to succumb to feelings of cynicism or despondency.”

They call upon the people of God in the West Africa nation to recall the comforting and reassuring words of Holy Scripture saying, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.