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Although the archbishop is skeptical that the ruling party will allow the 2023 vote to be fair, the Church has been encouraging everyone to register and to try and change the country through the ballot box. The worst that can happen, he adds, is for the ruling party to use the violence and instability as an excuse to postpone the elections indefinitely.
“To be honest, even I am scared. Fear has taken the best out of us. But I will not stop preaching the Gospel, I will not stop winning souls for Christ, because that is my calling.”
“We make sure the children get an education, from primary school even, if possible, to university. This is key to defeating Boko Haram. When people have training to secure their livelihood, then they don’t go and kill people.”
Conflicts between nomadic herders and settled farmers date back centuries, but the influx of high-grade firearms over the past several years has made the attacks much more deadly and destructive.
According to data compiled by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), at least 18 priests have been kidnapped in Nigeria since the beginning of 2022, five in the first week of July alone. Although most were released unharmed, three were killed.
“With this situation, nobody is safe anywhere. If you go out of your house, even in the daytime, until you come back, you are not safe.”
“What but pure evil would make a man kill a four-year-old and a two-year-old like this, in church during Mass?” the bishop asked. He added, without reservation, that the Pentecost attack was an “act of genocide.”
Father Vitus Borogo was murdered during a botched kidnapping attempt. Father Joseph Aketeh Bako was abducted at the beginning of March and spent one month in captivity, after which he died of illness and mistreatment.
“As I was lying there, one of the gunmen threw a tiny light close to me. It immediately registered in my head that it could be dynamite, so I started dragging myself away for safety, but before I could go far, the dynamite exploded and burned my back and my left leg.”