By Agnes Aineah
Abuja, Nigeria, Jul 22, 2022 / 15:45 pm
Nigeria’s government has everything it needs to stop the ongoing attacks that are targeting Christians, but has refused to help, a Catholic priest in the West African country has said.
The situation in Nigeria has led meany to believe that what is happening is “state-sponsored terrorism,” Father Patrick Alumuku, communications director of the Archdiocese of Abuja, told ACI Africa at the Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society, and Pastoral Life, being held in Nairobi July 19-22.
He said that the Church in Nigeria does not have the capacity to protect the people, including priests who have been victims of kidnappings and killings, and that it is the role of the government to empower security officers in the country to protect innocent civilians.
“The Church desires to protect its own personnel. But does the Church have the capacity to protect people? Does the Church have an army? Does she have the police?” the Nigerian priest posed, adding, “It’s the government that should have provided the police with whatever is required, the ammunition, the logistics to be able to handle this; but it would appear as if the government is not interested in solving this challenge.”
He continued, “The government appears helpless. In fact, there are those who feel that this is state-sponsored terrorism.”
The priest of the Diocese of Makurdi, who was ordained in 1981, said he finds it baffling that none of the atrocities that have been meted against Christians in Nigeria had been dealt with in courts.
“Of all these priests who have died, not even one person has been arrested. Of all the priests who have been kidnapped, not even one person has been arrested. Of all the churches that have been burnt or bombs that exploded, not one person has been arrested, taken to court, judged and convicted,” Alumuku said.
He added, “It therefore appears as though the government is compromised. The present government is compromised.”
Alumuku said that churches in Nigeria had put measures in place to protect their people, including installing security checks at entrances to keep insurgents at bay.
“The Church has done what it should do. On Sundays, there are usually stringent security searches for people who try to enter the churches,” he told ACI Africa July 20.
Churches in Nigeria have also enlisted the services of civil defense groups who are working to stop people suspected to be terrorists from entering the Church premises.
The defense groups, the priest said, have so far managed to stop many terrorists: SSome of them brought bombs and wanted to hit the church but were stopped, and the bombs, which were set to explode, went off somewhere else.”
“People are also being continually sensitized about the reality of insecurity,” Alumuku said.
He added, “People are told that if they see someone who they are not so sure of, they need to alert the security personnel.”
On top of all the security arrangements that have been put in place to keep Christians in Nigeria safe, the people trust God to provide them with utmost security, Alumuku said.
“The Psalmist says that unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain,” he said. “We don’t have arms; we don’t have ammunition. There is nothing more that we can do than to do this. We see this as a major persecution of the Church.”
Alumuku provided background on the abductions and killings in Nigeria, and noted that insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation did not started recently.
“Insecurity in Nigeria has been growing in the last 10 years,” he said, adding,“The international community only heard about it when militants abducted more than 250 schoolgirls. About 100 of those girls are still unaccounted for.”
Fr. Alumuku said that there is “an Islamization agenda in Nigeria” which, if not tamed, will extend to all other African countries.
“This is an African agenda. It is not just a Nigerian agenda. If it has not reached your country, just know that it is coming. They (Islamists) are only using Nigeria to test the waters. If they can succeed in Nigeria, then it is easy elsewhere. If they can overrun Nigeria and make it an Islamic state, with its huge population… they can succeed in any other African state,” he asserted.
The priest explained that the Fulanis who are terrorizing farmers in the country were first brought in from neighboring countries to vote for their tribesman, with the promise that they would be given land to settle. But on being denied the land, they settled in forests, whence they attack innocent civilians.
Alumuku also addressed the 2023 Nigerian general election, and expressed confidence that a new administration would turn around the insecurity in the West African nation.
“God is in control. God is our hope. God is in charge of all and he sees the minds of men. He does not allow that things in Nigeria go out of hand,” the priest said.
“For us who trust in God, we know that this situation will come to an end, be it through politics or through the leadership,” he said. “we know that by the end of this administration, the situation will improve dramatically.”