The Nigerian Catholic bishops have sounded the alarm against growing national insecurity as kidnappings for ransom have become an epidemic in the west African country.
On Monday, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of the Nigerian capital of Abuja, to protest the escalation of cases of abduction, which now affect citizens of every social class, even the poorest, reported Fides News Agency, the official information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
Protesters blocked the highway between Abuja and Kaduna with burning tires, chanting: “The kidnappings must stop.”
In his homily Sunday, Kaduna Archbishop Matthew Hassan Kuka said that “Nigeria is a confused nation without direction because no one knows where we come from or where we are going.”
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Yola, Stephen Dami Mamza, said citizens “are losing faith in the government because it fails to fulfill its primary constitutional responsibility, which is the protection of the life and property of its citizens.”
As Breitbart News reported, both the Boko Haram Islamic terror group and Muslim Fulani raiders have expanded their territory in Nigeria in recent months with a growing number of attacks and kidnappings outside their usual strongholds.
Among the people recently kidnapped are several Catholic priests, one of whom, the 70-year-old Father Joe Keke, is still in the hands of his captors. Father Keke was abducted on May 20 in a night raid on the parish of St. Vincent Ferrer in Malunfashi, in the state of Katsina, together with Fr Alphonsus Bello, whose lifeless body was found the next morning.
Father Moses Iorapuu, the director of social communications for the diocese of Makurdi, said there is a concerted effort by Fulani Muslim extremists to rid the land of Christians and the federal government does not lift a finger to stop them.
“The inability of the authorities to rein in extremists as they continue to kill, rape, destroy homes and fields, and kidnap, is a confirmation of complicity on the part of the federal authorities,” the priest stated.
While media often attribute these crimes by Fulani herdsmen to squabbles over land and resources, the fact that people are kidnapped away from agricultural land and are killed in church or in their sleep proves that there is another motivation, namely the expulsion of Christians from the territory.
Last month, the Rev. Caleb Ma’aji, secretary of the Kaduna state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), voiced his distress over the Nigerian government’s apparent inability to protect Christians.
“We wonder, what is the crime of innocent citizens, and how come the terrorists appear more free and protected than the citizens?” Ma’aji said. “This is a challenge to the government; indeed a government that is unable to guarantee the safety of its citizens and their properties will be best termed a failed government.”
In February, the Nigerian Bishops Conference released a statement condemning the ongoing situation of insecurity in the country, while also reproaching President Buhari for his failure to act.
“We are really on the brink of a looming collapse, from which we must do all we can to pull back before the worst overcomes the nation,” the bishops declared.
“The very survival of the nation is at stake,” they said. “The nation is falling apart.”