Bishop in Nigeria: Government must provide security

Archbishop Matthew Man ‘Oso Ndagoso visited the Nigerian village of Adama Dutse, which was attacked in February. There was widespread destruction, and 11 people were killed.

Following another attack on Christians in his diocese, the archbishop of Kaduna, Nigeria has expressed disappointment in the federal government for not ensuring the safety of the people.

His declaration came during a visit to the village of Adama Dutse in Kajuru, a Local Government Area of Kaduna State. According to information received by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the village was attacked in the early hours of Sunday, February 18th, leaving 11 dead, including five children, and seven injured. The attack also resulted in the destruction of 28 houses and the local Catholic church. Before leaving, the gunmen, who are still unknown, set fire to the village’s food supply.

Bishop in Nigeria: Government must provide security
Damage to homes in the community of Adama Dutse

After the incident, Archbishop Matthew Man’Oso Ndagoso, who was away at the plenary meeting of the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference, immediately sent representatives to assess the damage and console survivors. But last week, he paid a personal visit.

He thanked the local security services, saying that if they had not been so quick to respond, the situation would certainly have been much worse. But he had sharp criticism for the government, whom he accused of not providing local security forces with weapons and technology sufficient to fight the rampant terrorism in Nigeria today.

Archbishop Matthew suggested that the government should face consequences if it cannot live up to its promises. “Nobody has any excuse to leave this country worse than the way he found it. You promised Nigerians that you are going to make the country better. Therefore, do whatever it takes to make it better. It has been said time and time again that if you are there and you can’t do it, you know the honorable thing to do. But if you remain there, you must do whatever it takes to protect our lives and make the country better.”

“This is an agrarian community, and most of the food we eat [in the country] comes from agrarian communities. Therefore, we are only reminding the government of their responsibilities,” he said. The archbishop added that while in this case, people chose to stay in the village, farms are often abandoned after attacks in other communities, which can lead to food shortages.

Part of the Archdiocese of Kaduna is located in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, which has been badly affected by violence in recent years. Mostly Christian farmers are attacked by predominantly Muslim herdsmen in disputes over land, and this sometimes leads to the religious persecution of Christians. Many regimes have promised to address the problem, but there have been no visible results. ACN funds many projects in Kaduna and other dioceses in Nigeria.

—Filipe d’Avillez