Nigerian bishop challenges government to improve security or assume the consequences

Archbishop Matthew Man’Oso Ndagoso visited the village of Adama Dutse, which was attacked in February, leaving widespread destruction and 11 dead.

The Archbishop of Kaduna, in Nigeria, has expressed disappointment in the federal government for not ensuring the safety of the population, following another attack on a Christian community in his diocese by unknown gunmen.

Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso of Kaduna at St. Augustin Parish
Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso of Kaduna at St. Augustin Parish

His declaration came during a visit to the village of Adama Dutse, in Kajuru, a Local Government of Kaduna State, which, according to information provided to the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), was attacked in the early hours of Sunday, 18 February, leaving 11 dead – four men, two women and five children – and seven injured. The attack also resulted in the destruction of 28 houses and the local Catholic church. Before leaving, the gunmen set fire to food supplies.

Immediately after the incident Archbishop Matthew Man’Oso Ndagoso, who was away at the plenary meeting of the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference, sent representatives to the village to assess the damage and console the survivors, but last week he paid a personal visit.

He thanked the local security services, saying that if they had not been so quick to respond, the situation would certainly have been much worse, but he reserved sharp criticism for the government, who he accused of not providing the local security forces with sufficient weapons and technology to fight the terrorism in the country, which has become rampant.

If the government cannot live up to its promises, said Archbishop Matthew, then it should take consequences, he suggested. “Nobody has any excuse to leave this country worse than the way he found it. You promised Nigerians that you are going to make the country better therefore, do whatever it takes to make it better. It has been said time and time again that if you are there and you can’t do it, you know the honorable thing to do, but if you remain there, you have to do whatever it takes to secure our lives and make the country better.”

Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso visiting victims of Adama Dutse attack
Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso visiting victims of Adama Dutse attack

“This is an agrarian community and most of the food we eat [in the country] comes from the rural communities. Therefore, we are only reminding the government of their responsibilities”, he said. Furthermore, he pointed out that though in this case the population had decided to remain in the village, in many other communities, farms are abandoned, which can lead to food shortages.

Part of the Archdiocese of Kaduna is located in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, which has been badly affected by violence over recent years. Mostly Christian settled farmers have been attacked by predominately Muslim herdsmen, nomadic people, in disputes over land. These disputes sometimes lead to religious persecution against Christians. Successive governments have promised to address the problem, but so far with no visible results. ACN funds many projects in Kaduna and other dioceses in the Middle Belt and in the north of Nigeria.

 

By Filipe d’Avillez.
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