By Uduma Kalu, Caleb Ayansina , with agency reports
LAGOS—The Government of President Goodluck Jonathan came under attack from Nigeria’s senior bishops yesterday over the spate of bomb attacks in the country as they said the government was too weak to deal with growing threat from terrorists waging a campaign of terror against Christians.
This came as Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, declared that the serial bombings in some parts of the country was all about radical religious ideology.Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, and Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja both denounced government’s response to the growing threat from Islamist groups, saying Christians were increasingly at risk of attack.
Both spoke after at least 21 people were killed and more than 20 others injured last Sunday in coordinated attacks targeting Sunday services at the Bayero University in Kano, and a chapel in Maiduguri, belonging to the Church of Christ in Nigeria.
Speaking in interviews with Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity based in the United Kingdom, which helps suffering and persecuted faithful worldwide, both bishops said they had lost patience with government’s efforts to stem the crisis caused by an Islamic sect and other militant groups.
Archbishop Onaiyekan said: “At first we were ready to be patient with the government when it was saying that this kind of Islamic terrorism is new. They have had adequate time to learn how to deal with this situation, gathering intelligence about those directly involved and bring them to book.
“It has become clear that we have a weak government that has put together a whole lot of compromises; that means that the action that should be taking place is not taking place.”
The Archbishop said the government was too divided “to muster the political will” to deal with the crisis.
Archbishop Kaigama, in his reaction said: “The rampant attacks show that government security is not working. The government is not able to cope with the security situation and we feel quite apprehensive as a result.
“Why the government cannot identify the people involved baffles the imagination. We pay tax and we have a right to know what is being done about the problem.”
Archbishop Kaigama, whose northern diocese of Jos has been among those worst affected by Islamist violence, said: “Those young people killed at the university (BUK) represented the hope of our country. It defies all logic. They were people trying to build a better country.”
It is not about poverty, but religion —CAN
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria yesterday, said it was now convinced that the principal reason behind serial bombings in some parts of the country was not about poverty and youth unemployment, but about radical religious ideology.
The President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor at a press conference in Abuja said focusing on individual businesses, churches and masses is “to instill fear with the subsequent aim of eradicating religious freedom, democratic liberties with the church and Christianity as its primary target”.
The cleric who appealed to Christians to stay calm, however stressed the need for the government to use all the resources at its disposal to neutralize the activities of the Islamic sect, in the country.
Oritsejafor who said international community was made to understand that the problem of the sect is about poverty in the land noted that poverty and almajiri syndrome were babies of past northern leaders who amassed the country’s resources for themselves.
He said: “The question we should ask is that in the 51 years of governing this nation, who are those that have governed this country? They are from the north; what did they do with the opportunities and the resources they have? We need to ask the question, the Almajiris, can they read and write? We need to ask questions to understand what is happening, it is a pure religious ideology.
“Let me interject here that it is not to say we don’t know the beginning or the origin of this sect and all we are witnessing; it is basically a radical religious ideology, help us tell the world that western world is being deceived that the young people became terrorists because they were poor but they became terrorist because of religious ideology. The young Nigerian man who was about to bomb a plane did not do it because he was poor, his father is known in this country, very rich family. So it has nothing to do with poverty, that is not to say that people are not poor.
“We have been witnesses to the step-by-step escalation of violence on citizens with the Christian and the church suffering the greatest loss. We have persistently pleaded with government to take courage and act to stop the surge of terror.
“My first call to all peace loving Nigerians is to remain calm in the face of all the insecurity challenges as I am aware that the greater part of the overall design is to instill fear in the populace. I will now make final call to the Nigerian government to use all resources available to it to clearly define and neutralize the problem as other nations have done.
“The church leadership has hitherto put great restraint on the restive and aggrieved millions of Nigerians but can no longer guarantee such cooperation if this trend of terror is not halted immediately.”
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