Bishops demand compensation and help for Boko Haram victims
Bishops in north-west Nigeria are demanding compensation from the government for property destroyed by Islamic militants. Mgr Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso, Archbishop of Kaduna, has accused the Nigerian government of not helping the Christian victims of Boko Haram. He said: “In the past six years, insurgents have attacked churches and other Christian places in the north, but the federal government is yet to compensate the victims.”
Terrorist attacks on places of Christian worship within Kaduna state began on 25 December 2011, when St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla was attacked by members of Boko Haram. “Last year some young people attacked the Catholic church of St. Philips, Bakin Iku, near Suleja, causing several millions worth of damage” recalled the archbishop and “no one has even sympathised” with them. According to local reports, Bishop Ndagaso own house is also said to have been destroyed.
Mgr Ndagoso said that “the Catholic Church has not received any assistance from the federal government for the damages suffered.” He urged the federal government to help fund the rebuilding of destroyed churches “so the church could, in turn, assist with the development needs of the nation.”
Nigeria’s militant Islamist Boko Haram group has caused havoc in the country through a wave of bombings, assassinations and abductions as it fought to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. Over the past seven years, Boko Haram has killed up to 15,000 people, including many Christians.
Christian communities in the north and central Nigeria also continue to face widespread violence at the hands of heavily armed militant Fulani herdsmen. In the last three months of 2016, Fulani herdsmen burnt 53 villages, murdered 808 people, and destroyed 1,422 houses and 16 churches, Bishop Joseph Bagobiri of the Diocese of Kafanchan told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Bishop Bagobiri also accused the government of not doing enough to stop the violence. He stated: “The attacks on Christians meet with seeming indifference on the part of the country’s leadership – either the police do not have the appropriate weaponry to intervene, or else they have not been given orders to do so.”