Nigerian archbishop wants aid linked to action to stem violence

By staff writers
2 Jul 2010

The British government has been urged to link aid to justice for the victims of violence in Nigeria by the country's leading Anglican archbishop.

Frustrated and angry at what he calls "a total lack of help" in the face of increasingly savage massacres in the centre of the country, which human rights observers say are happening with impunity, Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi of Jos Diocese has called for aid sanctions to be applied.

"There’s a total lack of help. You bring us mosquito nets and bandages, but the key issue that must be ad­dressed for any nation to be a nation is the ability to provide justice for all the people," the Anglican primate says.

The Archbishop, who has faced three assassination attempts himself, has warned that Christian tribes, converted during the first decades of the last century, are being forced to return to ‘traditional warrior culture’. They find themselves under threat from Hausa and Fulani Muslim pressure on their lands, and from demands with menaces for constitutional rights.

A report on the violence has been published in this week’s Church Times newspaper, following a visit to the villages most recently affected by Dr Jenny Taylor, director of Lapido Media.

She commented: "What’s happening in Nigeria has been reported very badly up to now. Western journalists, like the Channel 4 team who went out with Peter Oborne to film for Unreported World, have no religious understanding."

Dr Taylor accuses the film of being "poorly researched" and says it "simply blamed Christians" - something the programme makers dispute.

She continued: "After 20 years of impunity, and stark evidence of land-grabbing by the Fulani and even the enslavement of children as repayment on loans, violence against Christians has reached unprecedented levels in a formerly peaceful state."

Archbishop Kwashi points back to the lack of arrests after the unrest in Kano on 12 March 1987, when 11 churches were destroyed, Christian businesses were looted, and at least 16 people were killed.

It is a real root of bitterness, he says. Now, he suggests, the killing of Christians “has assumed an almost ritualistic dimension” in neighbouring Kano state capital – the home city of the so-called 'underpants bomber' and London University Student Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, who attempted to blow up a US-bound plane at Christmas.

Lapido Media can be found at www.lapidomedia.com

[Ekk/3]

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