Christian leaders from many denominations met at an international conference to discuss religious freedom and the state of persecution in Nigeria. These leaders especially expressed concern over the Nigerian government’s inability to protect Christians living in northern Nigeria from the extremist group Boko Haram. Out of the 52 churches that used to stand in Maiduguri, a major city in the north, all but 2 have been destroyed. This lack of security and surge of extremism has made northern Nigeria one of the most dangerous places to be a Christian on earth.
5/29/2013 Nigeria (Spy Ghana) – The Catholic Bishops, priests and clergymen from other denominations have condemned the violent persecution of Christians in the north. This was part of the outcome of the International Conference on ‘Religious Freedom and Tolerance, Need for Dialogue’, which held at the Ofuobi Cultural Centre, Enugu. The clergymen asked for God’s mercy just as they called on Christians to be security conscious and be their brother’s keepers. Speaking during the conference organized by Catholic Institute for Development, Justice and Peace (CIDJAP) in collaboration with Christian Defense Force on Wednesday, the Catholic Bishop of Enugu, Rt Rev Dr Callistus Onaga endorsed the emergency rule imposed by President Jonathan in parts of the north. The cleric decried the situation where out of 52 churches in Maidugeri and environs, 50 have been destroyed by Boko Haram terrorists. He urged the Igbos in the north to consider relocating to the East to avoid more casualties.
In his contribution, the chairman of the occasion and Catholic Bishop of Minna Diocese, Rt Rev Dr Vincent Mbaukwu recounted how 47 of his parishioners died on Christmas day as a result of Madalla bomb blast, while another 147 are left with life disabilities, including blindness. He called on concerted prayer efforts by both Christians and Muslim devotees alike to contain the ugly solution.
Rev Obinna Akukwe, a political columnist and human rights crusader disagreed with the United States position that poverty was responsible for Boko Haram uprising. He alluded that there is state sponsored terrorism in the North citing the example of the recent Kano bomb blasted Bus Park which the state government was bent on converting to Islamic school, despite protestations from Igbos and Ohaneze leadership. The Pentecostal cleric wondered why it took president Jonathan ages before declaring state of emergency.
Venerable Ezeji, representing the Anglican Bishop of Enugu, disagreed with Rev Akukwe’s position that the imposition of State of emergency was coming too late. He believed that President Jonathan merely ran out of patience with the north. He asked Christians to add legal means while enforcing their rights especially in the North.