Violence in Nigeria has 'no boundaries' now, archbishop says

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need.

In wake of two bombings this week in Nigeria, targeting both an Islamic scholar and a senior politician, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama has called for greater proactive efforts to identify all violent groups.

“The two separate bombings in Kaduna is a further indication that there is progression rather than retrogression of violence in the northern part of Nigeria,” Archbishop Kaigama said in comments made to CNA July 23.

“That the attacks were allegedly aimed at a prominent Islamic scholar and preacher, and a senior politician shows that the violence has no boundaries now.”

Archbishop Kaigama, head of Nigeria’s Jos archdiocese and spokesman for the country’s Catholic Bishops Conference, gave his comments following two June 23 bomb blasts in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna.

BBC News reports that the initial blast killed at least 25 people, and was reportedly aimed for moderate Islamic cleric Dahiru Bauchi, who escaped unscathed. Shortly afterward a second blast in the city could be heard not far away.

Bauchi had just concluded preaching in the nearby Murtala Muhammed square, and was driving through the area with his convoy when the bomb went off.

The blasts mark the latest in a wave of bombings shaking the country that are attributed to Islamic militant group Boko Haram, launched in 2009 with the hope of imposing sharia law on Nigeria.

Boko Haram has killed thousands in their attacks, which have targeted security forces, politicians, Christian minorities, and moderate Muslims in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north.

Another June 23 explosion attributed to Boko Haram at a public health college in Kano killed eight and wounded at least 20. In addition, the militant group continues to hold more than 200 young schoolgirls captive after kidnapping them from Chibok in April.

“Boko Haram is an unfortunate and sad development in Nigeria and it is the fruit of years of social and moral decay, negligence of the poor, corruption, bad governance, dirty politics, frustration of the youths,” Archbishop Kaigama stated.

However, he cautioned that there are also many other proactively violent groups that continue perpetuate the cycle by “hiding under the umbrella of Boko Haram.”

The archbishop made an appeal for authorities to proactively increase efforts to identify other groups who work alongside Boko Haram or use their activities as a shield in order to remain unseen.

Despite falling through on previous promises of action, the federal government’s resolve “to bring an end to the violence and the menacing activities of terrorists in the country” is appreciated, he said.

“President Goodluck Jonathan is genuinely very depressed about the recurrence of violence and the continued detention of the kidnapped Chibok girls,” he noted. “We are united with him in prayers as he explores all the possible options to bring an end to this regime of violence and the reckless taking of human lives.”

Archbishop Kaigama also voiced his hope that the current attacks do not signify an increase in violence ahead of the country’s 2015 political election.

“When you add political violence to religious violence, the result will be anarchy and doom,” he said, “which can only worsen the suffering of most Nigerians.”


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