After all the atrocities committed by Boko Haram in his country, Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Job in Nigeria, thinks “the world has to show more determination to halt the group’s advance in Nigeria.” Other countries are slowly waking up to express shock at the increasing violence but there is little or no appetite to become more deeply involved in this conflict.
Drawing a comparison with the “Charlie” massacre, Kaigama adds “The international community has to show the same spirit after the attacks in France” and adds “We need that spirit to be spread around. Not just when it [an attack] happens in Europe, but when it happens in Nigeria, in Niger, in Cameroon. We must mobilise our international resources and face or confront the people who bring such sadness to many families.”
The acts of violence in Nigeria are becoming increasingly shocking: · Baga – Hundreds of people were killed recently during the capture by Boko Haram of the town of Baga in Borno state. Maiduguri – 23 people were killed by three female suicide bombers one of them a 10-year-old girl. Postikum – Two female suicide attackers killed four people and injured more than 40 people
Even more disturbing is the fact that the bombs were set off by the girls themselves and not detonated by remote control. Archbishop Kaigama says “The new strategy of Boko Haram terrorists to use innocent children as human bombs is abhorrent and unimaginable” adding “These girls were indoctrinated, brainwashed into believing that they will go to heaven by doing these actions. Besides, we have in mind the sad phenomenon of child soldiers in various parts of Africa who are indoctrinated with horrific methods of brainwashing so that they become killing machines”.
The advance of Boko Haram in several areas of northern Nigeria has caused thousands of civilians to flee their homes. “It is necessary to emphasize that there is no distinction between Christians and Muslims. Those who do not share the ideology of Boko Haram, and many are Muslims, are forced to flee”, concluded Mgr. Kaigama. So he is willing to accommodate all civilians: “Internally displaced people are welcomed in different parts of Nigeria, even here in Jos we have several”, he says.
The Nigerian army faces a difficult task trying to protect civilians from attack by bombers and gunmen, they have and failed to protect. Despite often being overpowered, Nigeria’s military has had some success, managing to prevent Boko Haram from taking over the Yobe state capital Damaturu.
Archbishop Kaigama stated that the slaughter in Baga, “a monumental tragedy that has saddened all of Nigeria”, had shown that the Nigerian military was unable to tackle Boko Haram. “We seem to be helpless. Because if we could stop Boko Haram, we would have done it right away. But they continue to attack, and kill and capture territories… with such impunity,” he said.
At the same time, Archbishop Kaigama said he is happy because some religious leaders of the Muslim community are distancing themselves from Boko Haram and have condemned their atrocities which they say are contrary to Islamic teachings. He concludes “I hope national unity will take place, to say no to violence and find a solution to the problems plaguing Nigeria”.
Ignatius Kaigama, was in Malta on the occasion of the International Religious Conference on “Can Christianity Survive Persecution?” organized by Aid to the Church in Need, 13th May 2014.