‘No reprisals’ Nigerian archbishop tells embattled Christians: The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2012 August 4, 2012Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Islam, Persecution, Politics.
Tags: Boko Haram, Diocese of Kebbi, Edmund Akanya, Kaduna
The Archbishop of Kaduna has called upon Christians in Northern Nigeria to “stay and pray” in the face of sectarian attacks by Islamist militants and not respond to violence with violence.
In an interview published last week in the Sunday Tribune, Archbishop Edmund Akanya urged Christians “to pray. We are against the issue of reprisal and attacks because that would not lead anybody anywhere. Two wrongs don’t make a right. What we preach is peace; we do not preach violence. We do not encourage it and we are telling our members not to join in that kind of reprisal. That is the stand of the church on this issue.”
On 7-8 July, Muslim Fulani herdsmen reportedly attacked Christian Berom farmers in Plateau state killing more than 100 people including two government officials. While clashes between migrant herdsmen and farmers have taken place in the past, the Muslim militant group Boko Haram has claimed involvement in the latest clashes.
Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa, told Nigerian reports his group “wants to inform the world of its delight over the success of the attacks we launched…in Plateau State on Christians and security operatives, including members of the National Assembly. We will continue to hunt government officials wherever they are; they will have no peace again.”
Security experts have questioned the Islamist terrorist group’s involvement in these latest attacks, but former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell writing on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations stated “whether Boko Haram was actually involved or not, Abu Qaqa’s rhetoric looks, indeed, like he is trying to incite all-out religious war.”
Reprisal attacks have also been launched against Muslim targets, and on 17 July a Muslim school was bombed in the state capital of Jos killing a boy.
Archbishop Akanya said churches in Northern Nigeria were taking steps to defend themselves. “We are encouraging our churches to put fence and gates; they should disallow cars from entering. They should get security men who can man the place. In many churches that I have visited, the bombers were not able to get access because of these barricades that are there.”
Those carrying out reprisal attacks were not true Christians, the archbishop said. “These boys that even carry out these reprisals do not go to church. That is the truth. I know what I am saying because those who go church will put their succor and relax their case in the hands of God and not going to fight back because they went to fight outside of the church environment. If it is self-defense, it would not have been outside of the church environment.”
Christians must not take the law into their own hands. “I do not think, by my conviction and the Bible I read that we have that instruction to go and be fighting people as a church or Christian. If anything, we should all cry to God to forgive our iniquities. Who knows if God is using this to warn us and to turn our hearts back to him. We should look at those facets and begin to think of how to cry unto God. We have seen cases that were worse than this in scriptures and how God delivered the people and it is still the same God. He can still do it for us,” Archbishop Akanya said.