More attacks in Nigeria
One of Nigeria's most senior Catholic leaders called on the international community to stop posturing and start providing practical support in the struggle against extremist violence after another wave of attacks killed more than 100 people.
Attacks rocked the city of Jos, in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, on May 20, 2014. The Islamist movement Boko Haram is strongly suspected of carrying out the twin blasts at a bus terminal and a nearby market, where at least 118 people were killed and 56 were injured.
Critical of the headline-grabbing displays of solidarity and statements of support by the United Nations and a range of governments, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama said the Nigerian government urgently needs more outside help to defeat Boko Haram.
Speaking from Nigeria on May 21st in an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Archbishop of Jos said foreign governments and others had a vital role to play in helping with intelligence gathering, stopping the illegal sale of arms, stepping up border controls and other initiatives crucial to cutting off Boko Haram’s supply lines.
Highlighting Nigeria’s security problems, Archbishop Kaigama, who is president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, said, “The international community can help in a number of important ways. The sale of arms is of grave concern.”
“In short, the [government] needs help in cutting the supply lines of Boko Haram and others.”
Referring to the many international pledges of solidarity, especially in the wake of Boko Haram’s abduction of more than 300 school girls in northern Nigeria, Archbishop Kaigama said: “All this hyperactivity from the UN and different nations amounts to pouring water into a basket.”
The prelate added, “While we appreciate what has been done recently with so many coming together in solidarity with us, and it really is great that the whole world is talking about it, what we need to do is work together to find solutions and put economics and other interests to one side.”
While critical of the government’s efforts to tackle Boko Haram, he said President Goodluck Jonathan’s key problem was that the government had done “too little, too late” and now “lacked the capacity” to deal with the crisis.
Archbishop Kaigama said: “The problem is that the government thought that they did not have to apply all the force that was necessary to defeat them but they have been proved wrong.”
“All the money used for the military has not been used properly. Quite a lot of the budget was used for security but we do not see the fruits.”
Amid reports that yesterday’s attack was Jos’ first major incident of its kind in more than two years, Archbishop Kaigama said: “People were beginning to move freely from one end of the town to another without fear.”
“We thought we had moved beyond all this [violence] and so to wake up to this is very demoralizing. It is very tragic and unexpected,” he said.
The archbishop went on to highlight the religious objectives of Boko Haram, stating: “Even in recent times, the bomb blasts have occurred in places where Christians are the majority.”
“Many of the girls who were kidnapped are Christian, the attacks in Kano took place in a predominantly Christian area and this applies to some extent to what has happened in Jos.”
“Even now, [Boko Haram] is faithful to its target of eliminating and destroying Christianity from parts of the country. The only difference is that we are not just seeing Christians dying and being abducted, we are seeing attacks on Muslims who [Boko Haram] considers are not Muslim enough.”
With picture of Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama (© ACN)