, 31 January, 2020 / 5:33 AM
Days after the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari ordered airstrikes on Boko Haram insurgents and other criminals orchestrating attacks, kidnappings and murders in Africa’s most populous nation, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja has questioned the jihadists’ actions of “killing in the name of God” and called on the Nigerian government to adopt the approach of taking “war to the criminals.”
“Our security agents must do more; our government must take the war to the criminals or those who say they are killing in the name of God,” Archbishop Kaigama who is also the Apostolic Administrator of Nigeria’s Jos Archdiocese has been quoted as saying Wednesday, January 30 during the Silver Jubilee celebration of Jos Ecclesiastical Province at St John's Cathedral, Bauchi in northern Nigeria.
He questioned in reference to the ruthless attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, "How can you meet people and spray them bullets and say you are making God happy? Who told you God needs to be happy? He is happy himself.”
On Sunday, January 26, President Buhari ordered airstrikes against “bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers” who have been operating from the forested areas neighboring Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states in Nigeria.
In ordering the airstrikes, the 77-year-old Head of State has been quoted describing the frequent attacks on local people “a disaster for the nation.”
Expressing hopes that the government will “take its responsibility seriously” and involve all security agencies, Archbishop Kaigama acknowledged the challenges that the security agents are facing in the process of fighting the insurgents.
He said, “You don't blame them (security agents) also because the fanatics also kill them. And when soldiers are killed in battle they are not treated well. I know that because I have friends and relatives who have died. Soldiers are treated shabbily even in death, and worse, their families are not remembered.”
“(The) government should do something apart from protecting us; they should ensure that they have adequate security and those who sacrifice their (lives), should be adequately protected,” the 61-year-old Prelate appealed.
In the face of the challenges due to Boko Haram, the Nigerian Prelate appealed for a change of heart through spiritual intervention saying, “Let us pray for a stop to the violence. We pray that the violence will stop in the name of Jesus. We pray for the conversion of hearts. We pray for repentance on the part of those causing this havoc, the destruction of lives and property."
Addressing the congregation at St John's Cathedral, Archbishop Kaigama appealed for religious tolerance stressing, “we must exhibit a love that has no boundary; we must love one another irrespective of religious ethnic or political difference.”
He continued, “We need peace in Nigeria; we need violence to stop and we must all do this together. We must expose evildoers and not hide them in the name of being members of the same tribe, religion, or political association. Having come this far our Christianity must mature so that we can attract more mercies of God.”
Nigeria, one of the countries in the crisis-stricken Sahel region, has been on the receiving end of various organised criminal groups that have been attacking citizens leading to loss of lives, displacement as well as loss of property.
The Diocese of Yola is constructing a residence that will house members of 86 households who have been displaced by Boko Haram attacks in Northern Nigeria.
According to Human Rights Watch World Report 2020, the northeastern part of Nigeria has borne the brunt of Boko Haram attacks in the last 10 years, with fighting between the insurgents and security forces killing an estimated 27,000 people, among them 37 aid workers. The report indicates that in 2019 alone, 640 civilians were killed following renewed fighting between the militants and government forces.
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Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa