‘While Nigeria bleeds and burns’

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have called on the government to protect the lives and property of its people, as militants intensify their killing spree across the country.

In a statement ‘‘While Nigeria bleeds and burns’’ the Bishops urged the authorities to carry out their ‘primary duty’ to protect the life of every Nigerian, irrespective of tribe, religion, social class or tradition.

“As Nigeria tragically bleeds and burns, we Bishops are really alarmed at the scale of human and material destruction, and the disruption of village and community life with increased levels of hatred and potentials for more conflicts in the nation. While Muslims are sometimes targets of these destructive attacks, Christians, Churches and non-Muslims in general are the principal targets for extermination, expropriation and expulsion by the Boko Haram insurgents, the perpetrators of all these destructions’’.

Twenty-five towns and villages are now under the control of Boko Haram, forcing huge numbers of people from their homes, reports the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri.

“Thousands are living in caves on the mountains, some in the forest,” Father Oliver Dashe Doeme, the Bishop of Maiduguri, has said. While a few have been able to stay with friends and relatives, most lack food, shelter, and medication. “We are faced with a huge humanitarian crisis; people are sleeping on the streets of Maiduguri.”

At least 15 people died at a teaching college in Kano when attackers opened fire in a lecture hall on 18 September, and the next day 36 people were killed when militants stormed a market in Mainok.

An attack in Kaduna state on the night of 16 September took the lives of 32 villagers in three mainly Christian communities. ”Our children, women, including pregnant women and the aged, our clergymen, churches… have been the sole and main targets of these attacks,” the Christian Association of Nigeria said.

Nigerian bishops have said that the government ‘must do more than it is currently doing to fight off and disarm these actual destroyers of Nigerians and Nigeria’. A national prayer rally is being held on 13-14 November in the capital Abuja to pray for the nation. Bishops have called on the church around the world to pray with them for Nigeria.