West & Central Africa

Archbishop condemns ‘unacceptable’ killing of Christians

Politicians who cannot protect Nigerians should not seek political office, warned the Archbishop of Jos, Plateau State.

Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi

He told members of the Anglican Church at a meeting of the Diocesan Synod that the crisis was an election campaign issue. He argued that the manner in which the Nigerian government and security operatives are handling the insurgency and killing of innocent Christians across the predominantly Christian populated middle belt region of the country leaves much to be desired.

“The lack of concern for the protection pf the poor is the most wicked thing that is going on. The people being killed are the (most) poor of the poor. They will never be millionaires, they are isolated in the villages and the only response we get from the army is that they can’t protect lives of the people in those places, I think that is unfair.” Archbishop Kwashi added that “the ways in which our security is responding to decimation of lives and properties in the rural areas is unacceptable.”

Nigerian Soldiers in Dorowa, near Jos

The Archbishop challenged “the response of the government” which he said “is even more questionable as to whether they care about the lives of Nigerians at all.”

He criticised recent remarks by a government minister who called for the anti-grazing laws to be suspended arguing that this ignored the plight of communities which had been attacked, killed and displaced.

The Archbishop pointed out that irrespective of the grazing law, Islamic Fulani herdsmen still attacked villages and towns that do not have these laws.

“In Zamfara, there is no anti grazing law and yet only a few days ago 25 people were kidnapped by the herdsmen. The response of government of today in response to human lives leaves a lot to be desired. They show no mercy, they show no sympathy, they show no empathy and it is not acceptable.” Benjamin Kwashi declared.

Fulani Cattle Herders

He argued that “security is not to be bought in any nation, it is provided for by trust of leaders. It is not bought and paid for.”

He reminded political office holders: “If you don’t want to protect people then don’t accept leadership.”

Archbishop Kwashi pointed out that but for the church, many communities would have been in a state of anarchy. “The people who are restraining (the people) is the church. We preach peace we pray for peace, and we are asking people to be restrained by the word of God.” But “Government is not helping our work because even if they show a few arrests, and interest in the care for poor people, that will help. We will be able to show evidence to people that we have a government that cares.” Kwashi pointed out.

The Archbishop warned, “When people choose to take the security by themselves, the government will have nowhere to hide. And when people reach a place of desperation, death is no longer a threat. They welcome it. To play with the security of lives and property is to invite uncontrollable emotions that lead to chaos.”

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

Image Credits: Author