Nigerian Christian Leaders: ‘The Terrorists Are in Charge’

Newly appointed cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja Nigeria, attends a mass held by Pope Benedict XVI at the St. Peter's Basilica on November 25, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Franco Origlia/Getty Images
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the archbishop of Abuja, has sharply criticized Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari this week over the country’s notorious lack of security.

“Is it until the President himself or a member of his immediate family is kidnapped before the government will do something about kidnapping?” the cardinal asked.

“How come kidnapping is going on consistently on specific roads and the security agents can’t do anything?” he added. “Does it mean there are collaborators among them and the people at the top levels of government?”

Onaiyekan went on to suggest that despite promises the government has effectively done nothing to restrain the lawlessness that reigns in much of the country, which suggests a lack of political will to seriously address the problem.

“The government and police have told us several times that they have put up high-level security checks and that they have cleared the roads but the criminals are still operating on the roads,” he said.

“It is sad that the kidnappers operate regularly on the highway and demand ransom and go to the extent of collecting the ransom without being arrested. It seems some people are doing business with the nation’s insecurity,” he said.

Another Nigerian Christian leader, Pastor Tunde Bakare, had even harsher words for the president, insisting that the country is under siege.

“It is evident that the bandits, criminals, killing people every day; those kidnapping people all over the place; and cattle rustlers and killer herdsmen terrorising the people are in charge in this country; they are the commander-in-chief,” Bakare said. “Nobody seems to know what to do anymore.”

“The terrorists are in charge,” Bakare continued. “They have even extended their regime to these areas. They now kidnap lecturers; doctors are no longer safe. The whole nation is under the control of terrorists.”

“But in the name of the Lord, Nigeria shall be delivered. I shall witness the deliverance and greatness of Nigeria,” he said.

Emeka Attamah, spokesman for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo cultural group, expressed his agreement that “terrorists are really in charge of whatever is happening now in Nigeria.”

“If terrorists are not in charge, why should officials of this government negotiate with leaders of Miyetti Allah who are demanding N100 billion to enable its members to stop killing Nigerians?” he said.

“I never knew that Nigeria would descend to this level of open brigandage. It has never happened before,” he added.

“There is nowhere in the world where the government is in tacit understanding with terrorist organisations,” he concluded. “Governments usually fight to eliminate terrorists and not to encourage them. The Nigerian government should face terrorists and treat them as such and not to eat or dine with them.”

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