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Poverty no explanation for Boko Haram, archbishop writes: Church of England Newspaper, November 21, 2014 November 21, 2014

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The Archbishop of Jos, the Most Rev. Benjamin Kwashi has written to The Times stating that claims the insurgency in Northern Nigeria “ is fueled more by poverty than by Islamic extremism” were naive. Those who peddle this myth, the archbishop wrote were blinded by political correctness that was “unwilling to face the connected and organized global jihadist network we face today. “Poverty does not explain the death by suicide bomb of 40 school children- Muslim children- in Potiksum yesterday,” he said nor does it explain “the abduction, forced conversion, and forced marriage of some 200 girls in Chibok. To say that this is the result of poverty and corruption is to play down the evil of Boko Haram, and their form of Islam.” Archbishop Kwashi acknowledged the “poverty and corruption” plaguing was “real”, “[b]ut so is the global terror ideology of which Boko Haram is a practitioner, and the global terror network of which it is a part. It is both untrue and unhelpful to conflate and confuse these issues.”

Prayers for Nigeria’s bombing victims: The Church of England Newspaper, May 30, 2014 June 17, 2014

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The Church of Nigeria’s Archbishop of Jos, the Most Rev Ben Kwashi, has released a call to prayer for peace and urged forbearance following an attack on the central market of the city on 22 May 2014. Twin bomb blasts killed 118 and wounded 45 people. The first explosion was detonated at 3:00 pm and the second at 3:30, a move police say was designed to kill those helping the victims of the first blast. No group has so far claimed responsibility, but the attack bears the hallmark of Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram security experts report. The attack on Jos marks the group’s continued drive south from their strongholds in the Northeast and may exacerbate tensions in the region, which has witnessed sectarian violence between Christian Berom farmers and Muslim Fulani cattle herders over the past decade. President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the blasts, calling the perpetrators “cruel and evil,” adding the government “remains fully committed to winning the war against terror, and this administration will not be cowed by the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilization.”

No negotiations with Boko Haram says Okoh: The Church of England Newspaper, May 23, 2014 June 2, 2014

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The Primate of All-Nigeria has urged Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan not to negotiate a prisoner swap with the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh told reporters that Boko Haram had rejected all offers of negotiation, and that its proposal to exchange over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped last month for its members held in custody was a mistake. The captured gunmen were “criminals” the archbishop said, and should be treated as such. Speaking to reporters during the Diocese of Abuja synod on 18 May 2014, the Archbishop said he supported the government’s imposition of martial law in three states affected by the insurgency. “As long as the problem has not been resolved, we can’t get a normal situation … then it would not be wrong to extend it,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria. The Archbishop of Lagos, the Most Rev. Adebayo Akinde told members of the Synod to hold fast in their faith in the face of the challenges facing Nigeria. “These are not times for Christians to solely depend on the cover, care and protection of human efforts and ingenuity,” Archbishop Akinde said, adding, “I do not know what the solution is to solve the Boko Haram issue, I also do not know how it will come but I want government to take seriously the option of a divine intervention.”

Overseas church pleas to free Boko Haram captives: The Church of England Newspaper, May 16, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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Overseas church leaders have joined the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev. Justin Welby in calling for the release of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. On 7 May 2014 Archbishop Welby denounced the kidnapping as an “atrocious and inexcusable act” and appealed to Boko Haram to “release them immediately and unharmed.” In a sermon given on 5 May 2014 the Archbishop of Cape Town the Most. Rev. Thabo Makgoba called for “all of Africa, and especially South Africa” to rise up and demand their release.  “We are one continent and these girls are our children,” he said. The Archbishop of Canada the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz said the “declared intention” of Boko Haram “to sell them in the market is appalling. It is an abomination against internationally held human rights, and an absolute affront to the efforts of many nations to honour the Millennium Development Goals to empower women and young girls through a good education.” On 8 May 2014 the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori said her church was “horrified at the violence perpetrated against innocent schoolgirls in Nigeria, and the willingness of those who should be addressing this to look the other way.  The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex.” Bishop Jefferts Schori said the “necessary response” to the kidnappings was “education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity.”

Call to fasting and prayer for Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, May 2, 2014 June 2, 2014

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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called for a nationwide day of fasting and prayer in response to the escalating war with the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. On 25 April 2014 the national president of the country’s pan-Christian association, the Rev. Ayo Oristsejafor said that Nigeria’s hope lay in the Lord. Last week the militant group detonated a bomb at an Abuja commuter bus station killing and wounding several hundred people. In the Northeastern state of Borno near the border with Cameroon the group kidnapped 230 girls from a state boarding school and has fled into the bush with their hostages. Last year, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, but martial law has not halted attacks. Amnesty International estimates that at least 1,500 people — more than half of them civilians — died in the first three months of 2014. “The escalation of violence in northeastern Nigeria in 2014 has developed into a situation of non-international armed conflict in which all parties are violating international humanitarian law,” said Netsanet Belay, an official with that rights group. “Civilians are paying a heavy price as the cycle of violations and reprisals gather momentum.”

Boko Haram forces closure of Nigerian diocese: The Church of England Newspaper, April 18, 2014 June 2, 2014

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The Church of Nigeria has temporarily closed the Diocese of Damatura in Northeastern Nigeria’s Yobe State due to the terror campaign waged against Christians by Boko Haram. The Primate of All Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh reports the Rt. Rev. Abiodun Ogunyemi has been evacuated to Jos and the “clergy are just being paid to keep it on.” The Islamist terror group has sought to drive Christians out of Northern Nigeria and in recent months has moved the war south. On 14 April 2014 over 200 people were killed when a bomb detonated at a commuter bus station outside Abuja. The previous day approximately 60 Christians were murdered in the Northeastern State of Borno. However “our church in Maiduguri is miraculously on but the churches are being attacked here and there,” Archbishop Okoh said. “The Bishop has escaped so many attacks, but he is still there; so what we are doing is to find a way to support the Bishop to support his members. The Bishop is there to ensure that the church does not die.” “Let me say that evil will not win this battle no matter how long it takes,” Archbishop Okoh said.

Half a million driven from their homes by Boko Haram: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

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The insurgency in Northeastern Nigeria waged by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram has forced nearly 500,000 people from their homes and threatens the stability of West Africa, U.N. High Commissioner for Human rights Navi Pillay has warned.  “With thousands of refugees fleeing from Nigeria, and arms and fighters reportedly flowing across international borders in the other direction, this terrible conflict is no longer solely an internal matter,” she said last week during a tour of the country. Human Rights Watch reports that 2014 is on track to becoming the deadliest year of the insurgency with 700 people reported  dead so far.  Speaking to the media following a service commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Archbishop Vinning Memorial Cathedral in Lagos on 8 March 2014, the Primate of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh warned that no one was safe, adding “As we pray for God to help this nation, we also call on the Federal Government to double their effort.” The Bishop of Lagos West, the Rt. Rev. James Odedeji added “government should take full responsibility of securing the life and property of its citizenry which it took an oath to do.”

150 dead in Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria: Anglican Ink, September 22, 2013 September 23, 2013

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Over 150 people were killed in a series of terror attacks in northern Nigeria last week. On 17 September 2013 the Islamist militant group Boko Haram blocked the highway from Maiduguri to Damatura, killing 143 travelers, and on the 18th Boko Haram gunmen attacked two towns.

On the 17th, the terrorist group ambushed a military convoy on the Baga to Maidurguri highway. The army reports that an officer and 15 soldiers were killed in the attack, though local news sources report 40 soldiers dead and 65 missing. The ambush followed a clash between government forces and Boko Haram earlier in the week in Kafiya Forest in Borno State, which killed 150 Boko Haram fighters.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 72, May 18, 2013 May 18, 2013

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Episode 72 of Anglican Unscripted brings even more news about the Anglican Church (Communion) around the world. Kevin and George talk about stories from Tanzania and Nigeria, who are dealing with internal conflict and Muslim-on-Christian violence.

It is also time to give an update on the Temporary Same Sex Liturgies the Episcopal Church passed at General Convention last year and who is using them and who is not.
AS Haley updates all the major legal cases around the country and discusses the late breaking news from The Falls Church.

Peter Ould talks about the growing conflict and investigation in Jersey. It is hard to tell if the biggest issue is jurisdiction or lack of trasparency.
Finally, in the blooper real at the end of the episode (after the credits) one of our contributors reveals a hidden talent. #AU72 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

“No amnesty for Boko Haram” says the Church of Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, May 5, 2013 p 6. May 5, 2013

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The Archbishop of Nigeria Nicholas Okoh has warned that a blanket amnesty for the terror group Boko Haram would see Christians driven from Northern Nigeria. In a position paper prepared by the church in response to the creation of an amnesty commission by President Goodluck Jonathan, the archbishop warned that amnesty without reconciliation would not solve the problem.

“If the Federal Government goes ahead through the amnesty committee to make peace on BH’s terms, it would have inadvertently and effectively banned Christians and Christianity from the North. In the amnesty committee, who will speak for the right of the church, not to be tolerated, but as Nigerian Christians to exist side by side with Islam and Muslims, build churches, worship freely, move about freely without being hunted down with all sorts of weapons?,” said the document entitled “’The rough edges of the amnesty proposition”.

According to extracts published by the Vanguard newspaper on 29 April 2013 the Archbishop asked: “Will the amnesty committee ensure that Christians are not merely tolerated in the north but are allowed to live abundant life as Muslims as Christians do in other parts of the country?”

In the most recent clash between the Army and Boko Haram, aid agencies report 187 people were killed after two days of fighting in the town of Baga near the border with Chad.

105,000 Christians murdered for the faith in 2012: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 6. January 21, 2013

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Over 105,000 Christians were killed because of their faith in 2012, an Italian sociologist told Vatican Radio last week, with reports from Africa, India and Asia showing a surge in anti-Christian persecution over the Christmas holidays.

Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy from Islam but released after an international protest campaign was re-arrested at his home on Christmas Day, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.

In a 26 December 2012 statement, CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said Pastor Nadarkhani had been returned to prison Iran. CSW reported he had “been returned to jail on the orders of the director of Lakan Prison, who claimed he had been released several days too early due to the insistence of his lawyer Mohammed Ali Dadkhah,” who is also in an Iranian jail for having defended Mr. Nadarkhani.

The Mohabat News service reported that on 27 Dec 2012, approximately 50 converts to Christianity from Islam were also arrested by police in Tehran for unlawful assembly.  The converts were released after several hours of police interrogation, but the Rev. Vruir Avanessian, remains in custody.

In Nigeria, the Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, attacked a church service on Christmas Eve in a village in Yobe State, killing the pastor and several members of the congregation.  The First Baptist Church in the northern city of Maduguri was attacked by gunmen during a Midnight Service on Christmas Eve and the church’s deacon was killed.  Reports on the total death count vary, with reports ranging from 12 to 24 killed.  CSW reports that since 2010, 45 Christians have been killed in Christmas church attacks launched by Boko Haram.

On 29 Dec, terrorist believed to belong to an Islamist militia group attacked the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in Dafniya a town near Misrata Libya.  Three members of the church’s staff were killed and two were injured in the attack.  As members of the congregation left the church following the Saturday evening service, a bomb exploded inside the church.  The Coptic Church in Egypt reports the death toll could have been much higher as the blast went off after the congregation had moved from the church to the parish hall at the conclusion of services – those killed were those still inside the sanctuary when the bomb detonated.

A Catholic priest in Zanzibar was shot on Christmas Day, missionaries on the majority Muslim island off the coast of Tanzania tell The Church of England Newspaper.  Fr Ambrose Mkenda was shot by two men riding a motorcycle as stepped out of his car after returning home from celebrating Christmas Day service.  Sources on the island tell CEN Fr. Mkenda, who is recovering in hospital, was not believed to be the primary target of the attack and was mistaken for the Catholic bishop of the island.  Last year the Anglican and Catholic bishops and clergy on the island were forced to flee to the mainland for a week after Uamsho, an extremist Islamic group, sparked riots.

In an interview broadcast on 26 Dec, the Feast of St Stephen the Martyr, Prof. Massimo Introvigne reported that in 2012 it was believed 105,000 Christians were “murdered for their faith”, or “one death every 5 minutes.”

Christians were most at risk in areas with a strong Islamic fundamentalist presence, Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, Pakistan and some parts of Egypt, in Communist North Korea, and in countries with strong ethnic national identities, where national identity is tied to religion.  In Orissa State in India, he said, Christians are considered “traitors to the nation.”

Ideology lay behind the persecution of Christians, Prof.  Introvigne said: “the ideology of radical Islamic fundamentalism, the more aggressive versions of ethno-nationalism and, of course, the vestiges of the old Communist ideology.”

He noted that “when it comes to the 105 000 deaths per year, these are not all martyrs in the theological sense of the term. However, within this number there those people who very consciously lay down their lives for the Church and often also pray for their persecutors and these offer forgiveness,” he said.

This forgiveness of those who persecute them is the “unique feature of Christianity, because many other cultures – even pre-Christian and post-Christian – speak, the right and duty of honor and vengeance. Christianity had this great civilizing function, which today we tend to forget, to have replaced the logic of revenge with the logic of forgiveness,” Prof. Introvigne said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Terror attack at base chapel in Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Islam, Terrorism.
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Terrorists have attacked the base chapel at the Nigerian Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) in Jaji in Kaduna State, killing an undisclosed number of people.  While no group so far has claimed responsibility, the twin suicide attacks follows a campaign of bombings and shootings mounted by the Islamist Boko Haram terror group, which has demanded Christians convert to Islam or leave Northern Nigeria.

Government reports state that on 25 Nov 2012 at approximately 1:00 pm a terrorist driving a bus packed with explosives detonated his vehicle outside the Protestant Chapel at the Nigerian Army’s staff college. Services had concluded for the morning and only the parish council remained in the building. Aside from the bomber, no deaths occurred in the attack, though the exterior of the building was damaged.

However, as a crowd gathered to inspect the damage and help the wounded a second bomb exploded.  Reuters reported that at least five people were killed while the Vanguard newspaper reported 11 deaths.  The Kaduna state police command declined to comment on the incident telling This Day newspaper that as the attack took place at an army compound, only the army could discuss the incident.  A military spokesman in Kaduna, told AFP that two bombs have exploded at the AFCSC, but he declined to offer further

Last month, at least 10 people were killed and 145 wounded in the bombing of a Catholic Church in Kaduna, and an estimated 3000 people have died in terror attacks since Boko Haram began its jihad in 2009.

Last week, the Nigerian Armed Forces offered a reward of 50m Naira (£198,000) for information leading to the capture of Abu Bakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Nigerian police out of control charges Amnesty International: The Church of England Newspaper, November 11, 2012 p 6. November 15, 2012

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The Nigerian government’s heavy handed response to Boko Haram’s terror campaign was violating the civil liberties of Muslims claims the international human rights group Amnesty International.

The 1 November 2012 report, Nigeria: Trapped in the cycle of violence, documented the crimes of the Islamist terror group, which is seeking to impose Sharia law on the West African nation and drive out Christians from the country’s North. It also lambasted the government for what it called serious human rights violations carried out by the security forces including enforced disappearance, torture, extrajudicial executions, the torching of homes and detention without trial.

The report follows the news of the latest terror attack which left eight people dead and over one hundred injured in a suicide bombing of St Rita’s Catholic Church in Kaduna.

According to a report printed in the Daily Trust, Fr. Michael Boni, the rector of St Rita’s, said the church was unexpectedly left unguarded on 28 Oct. “We only had the catholic cadets who secure the area on Sundays during service,” he said from his hospital bed, noting that unlike previous four Sundays, the police were not at their posts during the worship service.

Fr. Boni said that the attack came as the sign of the peace was being exchanged when a lone bomber rammed an explosive-packed car into the outside wall of the church.  “I moved to bring out the Holy Communion and at that point I can’t say what happened because there was pandemonium everywhere, people stamping on one another to gain access to outside.

“So all I noticed was that I was drenched in blood completely, I thought at first that my left eye is blown off, because the eye was covered in blood and I could not see, but I quickly recovered as people came to my aide, they even asked me where my car key was so that they could take me to the hospital and remarkably, I remembered where the keys were and they brought me to the hospital,” he said.

In its report, Amnesty International said the situation had become intolerable.  “The cycle of attack and counter-attack has been marked by unlawful violence on both sides, with devastating consequences for the human rights of those trapped in the middle,” said its Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

“People are living in a climate of fear and insecurity, vulnerable to attack from Boko Haram and facing human rights violations at the hands of the very state security forces which should be protecting them,” he said.

The government of Nigeria must take effective action to protect the population against Boko Harem’s campaign of terror in northern and central Nigeria, but they must do so within the boundaries of the rule of law. Every injustice carried out in the name of security only fuels more terrorism, creating a vicious circle of murder and destruction,” said Mr. Shetty.

“Only by clarifying the truth about events, establishing accountability for abuses, and bringing to justice those responsible can confidence in the justice system be restored and human rights be guaranteed.”

40 students murdered in Nigerian sectarian massacre: The Church of England Newspaper, October 14, 2012 p 6. October 16, 2012

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Christian leaders in Nigeria have denounced the murder of 40 university students in Mubi, Nigeria and have called for the government to implement tough new laws to combat sectarian terrorism.

On the evening of 1 Oct 2012, terrorists dressed in military uniforms went door to door in a student dormitory at Adamawa State University shooting students or cutting their throats with machetes.  Some press accounts reported the killers were working from a list, and asked each man his name and then freed him, or took him outside to be killed.  No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Boko Haram is suspected of having been behind the attack.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) released a statement last week condemning the massacre. CAN national secretary the Rev. Musa Asake said “CAN rejects the theory of election dispute as responsible for the massacre of over 40 students, considering the manner it was reportedly carried out. It believes that the reason is phony and that such a theory, arrived at in haste, can only serve to shield the real culprits and cover up their motives.”

He applauded President Goodluck Jonathan’s promise to track down the killers and urged Christians not to respond to the murders with revenge attacks. “We call on all men and women of goodwill in Nigeria to join the government to fight what may snowball into a religious or ethnic war,” Mr. Asake said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

2 Dead in Nigerian Sectarian Bombings: The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012 p 5. October 5, 2012

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Two people have been killed and 45 wounded in a car bomb attack on St John’s Catholic Church in the Northern Nigerian city of Bauchi.

On 23 September 2012, a car attempted to enter the church compound shortly after 9:00 am. Police report the driver detonated an explosive device and the car exploded in the church’s parking lot, killing him and one other person attending mass in the church.  The militant Islamic group Boko Haram is suspected to be behind the attack.

The Bauchi bombing is the first major incident since the Nigerian army reported that it had killed several of the group’s leaders in a gun battle on 17 September outside of Kano.  Boko Haram had switched tactics in recent weeks, also, destroying 30 mobile phone towers in Northern Nigeria, cutting off communications in some parts of the country.

The chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Rev. Pokti Lewis told Sahara Reporters, “we are sad but are appealing to all Christians to be calm and not seek revenge, we have not kicked against anyone and his or her religion but God is watching and time will tell.”

“Just few Sundays ago we lost nine persons in a suicide bombing and today again,” he said, warning Boko Haram was engaged in a war of religion. “This clearly cleansing agenda by those perpetrating this act” designed to convert, kill or drive out Northern Nigeria’s Christians.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Boko Haram violence a threat to the “Nigerian project”: The Church of England Newspaper, August 26, 2012 p 6. August 29, 2012

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The Archbishop of Nigeria has called upon the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to stop the drift towards anarchy as more Christians were killed last week by Islamist terrorists.  Attacks on churches and Christians were reported across Northern and Central Nigeria, with 19 worshipers attending a Pentecostal service in Okene in the central Kogi state murdered by gunmen.

In an interview with Punch, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said that at the “rate we are going, the country is drifting fast into anarchy and if people now capitalise on that situation, it will degenerate to dog eat dog.”

Anti-Christian violence has prompted some Christians to flee the North, while many churches report sharp decreases in worship attendance.  The Bishop of Kaduna, the Rt. Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon told his synod last week that the latest outbreak of violence had caused a 30 per cent drop in attendance.

On 6 August 2012, gunmen attacked a Bible Study held at the Deeper Life Bible Church in Okene.  Local press accounts of the attack say that the attackers shut off the generator plunging the church into darkness and then sprayed the building with machine gun fire.  Nineteen were killed in the attack, and two soldiers were killed in a firefight the following morning with the suspected gunmen.

In a communique released at the close of the 19th Kaduna Synod, the diocese warned Nigeria was sliding towards anarchy. Nigeria could soon see its own version of the Rwandan and Bosnian “ethnic cleansing” of recent years.

The Muslim militant group Boko Haram posed a threat to the “98 year old Nigerian project”  the synod warned by its “acts of bombing, shooting and other forms of destructive attack on the Nigerian state.”

First posted in The Church of England Newspaper.

‘No reprisals’ Nigerian archbishop tells embattled Christians: The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2012 August 4, 2012

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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.

Akinola warns of a Nigerian jihad from Boko Haram: The Church of England Newspaper, June 10, 2012 p 7. June 8, 2012

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The former Primate of Nigeria has rejected claims that the Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria is driven by economic deprivation or tribal jealousies.

Speaking to a congregation that included the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, and its political elites, Archbishop Peter Akinola lambasted the country’s parlous political state. Human sin, tribal passions and Britain’s determination to get out of Africa before it had prepared the new nation for independence had led to the present state of affairs.

“Shun all political claims that Boko Haram is not against Christianity. It is,” Archbishop Akinola said on 27 May 2012 in a sermon at the National Christian Centre in Abuja in celebration of Democracy Day.

The war has been “going on since 1966. They are committed to Jihad. You can’t stop them it is their religious obligations. They have been doing it for 36 years; they have not stopped and they won’t stop,” Archbishop Akinola said.

Recent press reports in the West have argued that the Boko Haram insurgency is not, at heart, a religious war.  On 24 May 2012 the Voice of America reported that a report by the NGO Human Rights Watch claimed that while the conflict may be along ethnic and religious lines, but the “root of the fighting is often political and economic.”

“We have ignored the truth. Boko Haram must be seen in the right context. It is a continuation of the past,” the archbishop said.

“Boko Haram means Jews and Christians are abomination. They have been unleashing terror since 1966 and they have a mandate. This problem is not peculiar to Nigeria, many other stakeholders are disenchanted but waiting for their time. They want to eliminate infidels which includes you Mr. President,” the archbishop said to the congregation, which included Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan.

Archbishop Akinola warned the country’s leaders gathered for the Democracy Day service that Nigeria had lost its way.  “We are still disunited.  Leaders are interested in their own, no national identity. We are blood thirty and bloodletting society with no regards for sanctity of life. Nigeria is at war against itself. Selfish politicians are doing all things on basis of political exigency.”

Nigeria’s former colonial master had done the country no favours by its hasty grant of independence, the archbishop said.  “A word of truth about our past amalgamation, there was no consent from the South and North. It was done for political and economic gains of the colonials. Our leaders failed to gather the authentic representatives of Nigerians to seek the kind of independent Nigeria they want.”

“This would have led to a new Nigeria,” the archbishop said according to accounts of his speech published in the Nigeria press.

“The euphoria of independence was consequently short-lived,” he said and the “political atmospheres” were now “full of acrimony. There is tribal war. The country has been fragmented with inhibitions to progress.”

The general election of first republic was based on a “faulty census leading to blood-letting that led to the [Biafran Civil War],” he said, as national unity cannot be maintained by “military fiat.”

The 1970s and 1980s in Nigeria were “characterised by unrest, military rule, coup, and armed robbery.” The year 1999 saw the “return of democracy,” but since that time “rather than dealing with the causes, successive governments have been hiding from the truth putting new wine in old bottle.”

“Insecurity has been with us. About 30 crises so far has occurred in the country leading to religious and ethnic cleansing. In 1980 another religious riot with Christians killing took place. In all cases, we have failed to address the causes,” the archbishop warned.

Nigeria’s structural problems were also coupled with the moral failings of its people. “Corruption, the hydra-headed monster, has taken over the soul of Nigeria,” Archbishop Akinola said.

“Officials are stealing us blind,” he said, and they scavenge the country’s “carcass” for their own ends.  Government anti-corruption campaigns were “selective” and short lived. The police and judiciary did not have “clean hands” while the country’s universities had become diploma mills giving honours and “questionable titles” to the powerful.  All of this “will continue because government pays lip service to the fight against corruption,” the archbishop said.

In his address to the gathering, President Jonathan disputed the predictions of further chaos made by Archbishop Akinola. “Even though people are predicting the disintegration of Nigeria, let me assure you that Nigeria will not disintegrate. Though we have these challenges, but we will succeed,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop Okoh urges Nigerians to keep the faith in the face of terror: Anglican Ink, June 4, 2012 June 4, 2012

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Archbishop Nicholas Okoh

A lone suicide bomber killed at least 15 people last Sunday in a terrorist attack on a church in Nigeria’s Bauchi state. On 3 June 2012 a terrorist drove into the compound of the Harvest Field of Christ Church, Yelwa, Bauchi State, detonating a car bomb as worshipers began leaving the morning service.

While no group has so far taken responsibility for the attack, police believe the attack was the work of Boko Haram, the radical Islamist sect whose name in Hausa means “Western education is sacrilege.” At least 500 people have been killed in mass terror attacks in Northern Nigeria so far this year – church leaders in Nigeria report the death toll is much higher as sectarian murders in the countryside are seldom reported in the media.


“This synod called the whole of the country not to lose faith.  Because of the bombing and insecurity people were beginning to lose faith in God as if God is not able to protect them,” the archbishop said to the 2nd Session of the 8th Synod of the Diocese of Abuja meeting at St. James’ Church Asokoro, Abuja.

People were also “beginning to lose faith in the entity called Nigeria,” he said. “Individuals also are beginning to lose faith — losing courage in themselves, they feel that everything is collapsing.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Bloody Sunday in Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2012 p 7. May 21, 2012

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At least 20 people were killed in two attacks on churches by the militant Islamist terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria on Sunday, while Islamist extremists have been blamed for a Sunday morning attack on a church in Nairobi that has left one dead.

Four people were shot to death during a church service in the northeast town of Maiduguri. “Boko Haram who were six in number came in a Volkswagen Golf car and shot the pastor and three others while they were about to administer the Holy Communion to worshipers,” Maiduguri police spokesman Samuel Tizhe told Reuters.

The attack in Maiduguri in the northeastern Borno state – the home of Boko Haram – followed an attack earlier in the day in Kano.  The Nigerian Red Cross reports sixteen people were dead following an attack by gunmen at a worship service held in a lecture hall at the city’s Bayero University.

Sunday’s shootings are the latest in a series of attacks that police blame on Boko Haram – a militant Muslim group that seeks to impose Sharia law on Nigeria and to expel or convert the country’s Christians.  On Easter Sunday, 36 people were killed when a suspected Boko Haram militant detonated a car bomb inside a church compound in Kaduna, while on Christmas Day 37 people were killed in church bombings.

Kano has been the scene of sporadic fighting between Boko Haram and the security services.  In January the sect killed 186 people in an attack on churches and government offices in Kano.  Last week suicide car bombers attacked the offices of the pro-government newspaper This Day in Abuja and in Kaduna killing four.

In Kenya, in Nairobi, a grenade was thrown in Church linked to the congregation ‘God’s House of Miracles’ just before the start of services. At least one person died and more than ten people were injured, Kenyan press reports said.  While no group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, police suspect the militant Islamist group Somali Shabaab in this latest attack.

In a sermon delivered before the attacks on 22 April, the Bishop of Owo, the Rt. Rev. James Oladunjoye urged President Goodluck Jonathan to use the army to restore order.  Boko Haram was like a cobra, the bishop said.  Stroking its head to appease it would not work, as the snake would soon bite.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Resist Muslim aggression, Archbishop tells Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2012, p 6. March 1, 2012

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh has urged Christians in Northern Nigeria to hold fast and not abandon their homes in response to attacks by the Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram.

The archbishop’s plea for peaceful resistance comes amidst heightened anti-Christian persecution in Northern Nigeria.  The Barnabas Fund reports that 95 per cent of the Christian residents of one northern state have fled in fear. However, the Bishop of Dutse, the Rt. Rev. Yusuf Lumu, told reporters the insurgency had evolved from an anti-Christian to an anti-government campaign in recent weeks.

Nevertheless the Rev. Garba Idi, chairman of the Yobe State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) told the UK-based Christian aid organization the situation in Yobe state was “terrible.”

“Churches were burnt and attacked while many Christians lost their lives in the course of this mayhem,” Mr. Idi said.  “We have to leave because the sect is hunting us; that is why we had to flee… Many Christians have left Yobe to save their lives from these attacks.”

In Yobe approximately 20 churches have been set alight since November and 15 Christians have been murdered over the past six weeks by Muslim militants, Mr. Idi reported.

Speaking to members of the Church of Nigeria’s Standing Committee meeting at St Faith Cathedral Church, Awka on 17 Feb 2012 Archbishop Okoh warned that unless the government acted quickly, a civil war leading to the unraveling of Nigeria was in the cards.

“We call on Boko Haram, their sponsors and admirers to have a rethink; in fact, all of us have a lot to lose in the event of a breakup of the country, if pushed too hard,” the Primate told the meeting, according to the Information Nigeria website.

The unity of Nigeria was “non-negotiable”, the primate said, as were its people. “We are all one,” Archbishop Okoh told the 170 members of the provincial standing committee.

But the government must ensure that the life and liberties of its citizens were safeguarded.  Northern Christians must be protected by the government, he said, but Northern Christians must also stay and resist the attacks of Boko Haram.  He also charged the church’s clergy and parish leaders to ensure that security arrangements were in place so as to prevent attacks on worshipers.

Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attacks upon Nigeria’s Christians and has mounted a campaign of violence with the aim of imposing Sharia law on the country.  On Christmas Day 35 people were killed in one attack upon a Catholic Church in Madalla, near the capital of Abuja, when terrorists threw bombs into a crowd leaving the church after a service.

Bishop Lumu told the Nation newspaper that he believed the terror campaign was evolving.  Boko Haram had been “hijacked by politicians,” he charged, bent on destabilizing the government so as to provoke a military coup.

Meet murder with love, archbishop tells Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2012 p 7. February 2, 2012

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Archbishop Nicholas Okoh

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh has urged Nigerian Christians not to seek vengeance for the wave of anti-Christian and ethnic violence sweeping across Northern Nigeria.  The archbishop’s peace plea follows a series of bombings carried out by the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, Boko Haram, which last week killed over 200 people.

The plight of Nigeria’s Christians was also raised in Parliament last week, with MPs pressing the Church of England and the government to use their influence to end the violence.

Reporters from the Leadership newspaper in Kano counted 185 bodies in the mortuaries of the city’s main hospital following four apparently coordinated bomb blasts on the evening of 20 January 2012.  The death toll is expected to rise, the newspaper said, as other bodies are brought to the hospital, while several people were severely injured in the blasts and are near death.

Following the attack by the radical Islamist group, police imposed a 24-hour curfew on the city, which was modified to a dusk to dawn curfew on Monday.  The Kano bombings were followed by an attack on a Christian community in North-Eastern Nigerian town of Tafawa which left nine people dead and ten wounded.

President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, condemned the Islamist attacks, protesting the fact that “honest Nigerians were brutally killed by terrorists.”

“We will not sit here and watch while enemies of democracy spread terror across our land,” he said.

In a statement released on 23 January following the visit of the Bishop of Durham to Nigeria, Archbishop Okoh warned the violence in the North posed a “very serious challenge” to the government and was giving President Jonathan many “sleepless nights.”  However, the outbreak of “religious strife” was unnatural as Christians and Nigerians sought “to continue to live together peacefully as before.”

He stated that Christians were “facing serious temptation” as the “intense attack” by the Islamist radicals was “tempting the Christians whether to continue to maintain peace, always turning the other cheek, or fight back to find their safety.”

The archbishop called upon government and Muslim leaders to “reach out to Boko Haram to dissuade them from dastardly acts.”

He called upon Boko Haram to “leave the Church alone,” and to “dialogue with government if they have any axe to grind with her.”

However Christians would not meet violence with violence.  “The attempt to drag Nigerians into militancy is something Nigerians must resist,” Archbishop Okoh said.

Civil War looms in Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, January 6, 2012, p 7. January 6, 2012

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Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma

Action, not talk is needed from Muslim leaders if Nigeria is not to fall into civil war, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria said last week in the wake of Christmas Day terror attacks mounted by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh appealed to Nigeria’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to exercise leadership, saying “it is not enough to condemn the act. It is not enough to dissociate itself from it.”

Muslim leaders “must take some pragmatic steps in the interest of all of us to bring about an end to this matter. There is no other body in a better position to speak to Boko Haram,” the archbishop told reporters last week during a visit to St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla in the Niger State.

On 1 Jan 2012 Boko Haram issued an ultimatum to Christians living in the Muslim majority areas of Northern Nigeria to leave within three days, or face their wrath.  The terror group has claimed responsibility for a series of bomb and gun attacks on churches and the police stations across five states on Christmas Day.  At St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla near the capital of Abuja, 35 people were killed when a bomb was tossed into the congregation as the service was ending.  A half dozen other Christians were killed in related attacks across the North also.

Archbishop Okoh called upon Nigeria’s political and traditional leaders to take immediate action to prevent the country from falling into civil war.  The governors of Nigeria’s northern states must come together, he said.  “They meet to discuss national issues and I don’t see any national issue that is more critical than this one; the issue of the security of the nation.”

“If they can meet on other things, this is a critical issue that should engage their attention. They should find a solution to it. They are in a better position to find a solution to it.”

“I also make my appeal to the political elite in the National Assembly and those of them in the states,” the archbishop said.  “They should find a solution to this matter as a matter of urgency, because if there is no Nigeria, there will be no political office holders.”

The spectre of sectarian war loomed, the head of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Rev. Ayo Oritsjafor told AFP. “The consensus is that the Christian community nationwide will be left with no other option than to respond appropriately if there are any further attacks on our members, churches and property.”

In a speech given on 30 Dec 2011 Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma also warned that the Ibo people of the South-East would not hesitate to follow the example of the late Ikemba Nnewi – the leader of the short-lived Biafran Republic which attempted to break away from Nigeria in the 1960’s – and take up arms to protect themselves.

“If the Federal Government fails to do something urgently, we shall declare war in Nigeria. Our quietness should not be seen as cowardice. If the issue is not addressed, we will resume [Ikemba Nnewi’s] fight against injustice. Enough is enough.”

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Christians targeted in Christmas bombing campaign in Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2011 p 7. December 29, 2011

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Archbishop Ben Kwashi

Islamist militants are suspected of being behind a pre-Christmas terror campaign in the Northern Nigerian city of Jos.  Boko Haram – a militant Muslim group that has pledged to convert all of Nigeria to Islam – has threatened to disrupt the Christmas holidays, the Nigerian media reports.

On 10 Dec 2011, three bombs exploded as crowds gathered to watch a Real Madrid – Barcelona football match at a public television viewing centre.  One man was killed and 11 injured, while a fourth bomb was defused by police.

In the early hours of the following morning, a woman was killed and two others were wounded when gunmen attacked a Christian village in Kagora.

Speaking on the persecution of Christians in Nigeria at a conference sponsored by Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Jos observed that sectarian violence was unknown in the city until 1987.

In that year a Hausa militant group was organized and the administration of the city divided in two, with a Muslim majority area created for the north of the city.  By 1997 tensions between the majority Christian population and the Muslim minority – who wielded political power through the support of the military government – began to erupt and fighting ensued.

Over 2000 people were killed in sectarian fighting in 2001, the archbishop said, and 2010 saw a “huge massacre” of Christians at the hands of Islamist militants.  The Boko Haram insurrection saw the introduction of terror bombings of Christian sites in the city, with the first attack launched over Christmas 2010.

Archbishop Kwashi stated there has “never been an arrest” in the attacks on Christians in Jos, while the results of government investigations into the violence have been kept secret.

“If the killing of Christians is not called by its name,” he told the CSW meeting, this “crime will continue to go on under the name of religion.”

“If it is declared criminal” by the government, the “persecution will be reduced,” he said.

Speaking in response to last week’s bombings, CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “The security situation in both Plateau and Kaduna States are of great concern. Security services must remain vigilant regarding threats to disrupt Christmas celebrations in Jos, and take proactive steps to secure areas in both Plateau and Kaduna States where attacks are likely to occur. ”

150 dead in Nigerian sectarian attacks: The Church of England Newspaper, November 11, 2011 p 7. November 16, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Over 150 people have died in a series of sectarian attacks in Northern Nigeria. Gunmen believed to belong to Boko Haram – a militant Muslim sect – last week targeted police stations, churches and an army base in a reign of terror in Nigeria’s Yobe, Kaduna and Borno States.

The attacks occurred two days before start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and are believed to be the work of the shadowy group. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” claimed responsibility for an August bombing on the UN headquarters in Abuja that claimed more than a dozen lives.

In an interview recorded last month by Anglican TV, Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi of Jos stated Iranian money was flowing into the north to support the militants. Equipping the militants with guns and ammunition served to destabilize the state, he said, and could pave the way for a military coup.

Barnabas Aid reports that at a church in Kaduna State, gunmen targeted a prayer meeting on 3 November 2011. As the meeting drew to a close, gunmen entered the building and sprayed the congregation with bullets. Two women died at the scene and 12 were injured.

The next day Boko Haram attacked police stations and an army base in Yobe and Borno States. Churches were also attacked, the Barnabas Fund said, with six churches bombed in Damaturu.

“Islamists have once again wreaked havoc in Nigeria, leaving a trail of devastation and destroyed lives,” stated Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid.

The attacks have been condemned by the UN Security Council and by Pope Benedict, who on Sunday told worshippers in Rome that the violence serves only to sow hatred and create divisions. The US State Department has issued a travel warning for Nigeria’s capital, as Boko Haram has announced it will target the Hilton, Nicon Luxury and Sheraton hotels in Nigeria’s Federal capital, and have threatened foreign diplomats, politicians and the country’s business elite.

“Amid this ongoing carnage, our brothers and sisters continue to suffer,” Dr Sookhdeo said. “We must pray earnestly for peace in that troubled land and be ready to help meet the practical needs of Christians who have been affected by the violence.”