Category : Nigeria

(W Post) Nigerian protesters say security forces fired on them, fueling global outrage

Global outrage mounted Wednesday after security forces in Africa’s largest city opened fire into a crowd of protesters, deepening unrest spurred by anger at Nigerian police.

Ten people died and dozens were wounded after uniformed men took aim at demonstrators the night before at a Lagos toll gate plaza, Amnesty International said, a clash captured from multiple angles on social media.

The violence followed two weeks of largely peaceful demonstrations that prompted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the undercover police unit at the center of the dispute and that critics have long blasted as abusive.

But hundreds returned to the streets Wednesday — despite a 24-hour curfew enforced by riot officers — and thousands more joined solidarity marches in other countries, saying past attempts at ending police brutality in Nigeria had fallen short. Protesters in Lagos, a metropolis of approximately 20 million, said they would not stop until wrongdoers in law enforcement are brought to justice.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Violence

(WSJ) Nigerian Protesters Shut Down Africa’s Largest City, Escalating Standoff With Government

Tens of thousands of protesters brought the largest city in Africa to a standstill on Monday, mounting the biggest demonstration in a two-week campaign against police brutality and escalating a standoff with a government that has pledged to restore order.

Groups of placard-waving protesters blocked major roads across Lagos, Nigeria’s sprawling commercial capital and home to an estimated 20 million people. The city’s Ibadan expressway, the country’s busiest road, was blocked by groups chanting: “We want change.” Protesters closed off the city’s airport and stormed the terminal. In a city infamous for hourslong traffic jams, columns of Lagos residents could be seen walking along emptied streets and causeways.

The Lagos protests were the largest of a series of demonstrations on Monday across the West African nation of 206 million people that appeared to significantly raise the temperature between demonstrators and the government.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General

(Crux) Kidnapped Christians released in Nigeria

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a global campaigner for religious freedom, has called for continued prayers for Nigeria after the release of four students and their teacher who were kidnapped in August.

The gunmen also killed one man and burned down a local church during the raid in the northwestern state of Kaduna. On Saturday, the victims were freed.

“We welcome the efforts that led to their release as we were among the organizations calling for action in their case.” said CSW’s Kiri Kankhwende.

“We must continue to pray for Christians and other vulnerable communities in Nigeria. Pray the children of all communities whose lives have been devastated by violence, and for the safety of Christian leaders, who are increasingly being targeted for abduction, and for wisdom and strategy as they lead their congregations at this difficult time,” she told Crux.

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Posted in Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(ANS) UK Politicians Highlight Nigeria’s ‘Unfolding Genocide’

Christian charity Release International has welcomed a new report by UK parliamentarians highlighting the religious element behind much of the growing violence in Nigeria. The report warns of the risk of an unfolding genocide and calls for UK aid to be linked to efforts to protect Nigerian villagers from attacks by Islamist extremists.

Release says the new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide? is the result of an investigation by 100 UK parliamentarians from a wide range of political parties.

It describes attacks on churches and Christians which killed more than 1,000 in 2019. A partner of Release International, which supports victims of violence, estimates 30,000 have been killed since the conflict began in the 1980s. The United Nations put the death toll at 27,000.

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Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence

(Economist) A nine-year-old aims to be the youngest chess grandmaster ever

There are plenty of reasons why Tanitoluwa Adewumi captured the world’s attention in March 2019 after winning the New York State chess championship in his age group. Nine-year-old “Tani” was living in a Manhattan homeless shelter. And he was a refugee. Tani’s family had fled northern Nigeria and sought asylum in America in 2017 after being threatened by Boko Haram, a jihadist group. Oh, one more thing: when Tani took home the state championship trophy, he had been playing for only a year. It is little wonder his inspiring story is already the subject of three books (the first was published on April 14th) and a film.

But the story doesn’t end there. Tani is getting better. Chess players are ranked by the United States Chess Federation and the World Chess Federation using the Elo system. Named after Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor and chess enthusiast, Elo ratings are based on a player’s performance in matches, and the skill level of their opponents, according to a mathematical formula. A beginner typically scores 800, an average player 1500 and a professional 2200. Grandmasters score above 2500. After his win a year ago, Tani was rated at 1587, or 20th among eight-year-olds in America. Today he is rated at 2059, number three among players his age, and on track to be number one.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

([London] Times) Nigerian General who said Boko Haram are winning is sacked

A senior Nigerian army officer has been relieved of command after a leaked video showed him saying that his forces were outgunned by Islamist fighters.

Major-General Olusegun Adeniyi was removed as head of the operation in the northeast of the country after he was recorded describing an ambush by Boko Haram, who fired hundreds of mortar bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, killing scores of Nigerian soldiers. Many of his colleagues believe that they are losing the wider battle against the militants.

The military claimed that 47 troops died in the attack near the village of Gorgi last month, but sources on the ground said the death toll was nearly twice that.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism

(CT) Nigeria’s Government Agrees: Islamist Terrorists Target Christians

In comments given exclusively to CT, the administration of President Muhammad Buhari clarified that this targeting is not new.

“Yes, Boko Haram is targeting individual Christians. In doing so, their target is all Nigerians, and their goal is to divide Christian brother against Muslim brother,” Mohammed, the information minister, told CT.

“What Boko Haram seeks—and always has sought—is to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

“By targeting Christians, they seek to promulgate the falsehood that the democratically elected Nigerian government does not care to protect them.

“By targeting Muslims, they seek to promulgate the falsehood that the terrorists themselves follow truthfully Islamic teachings, and those they target do not.

“It is the strategy of the desperate.”

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Posted in Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Terrorism

(EF) Jihadism bets on Africa

The 2019 Open Doors World Watch List (WWL) warned of an “increase in sub-Saharan Africa militia” of Daesh (ISIS), which had dispersed after losing territory in the Middle East.

According to the Christian organisation, “instability, corruption, poverty, unemployment and lack of governance” are an ideal scenario for the growth of radical Islamism, which has also “instrumentalised existing identity-based conflicts to forge alliances to strengthen their base and widen the risk they pose to global security”.

A year later, several countries in the Sahel region that were not on the open Doors WWL until now, have become part of the document. Burkina Faso, Niger and Cameroon are some of the territories in which the increase of violence is closely related to the rise of the presence of jihadism in the area.

The International Observatory of Studies on Terrorism has reported that, while in March 2019, coinciding with the defeat of Daesh in Baguz, its last territory in Syria, there were 28 jihadist attacks in the Maghreb and Sahel regions, with a total of 153 deaths. In January 2020, there have already been 77 attacks and 502 deaths, most of them in Burkina Faso, Mali and northern Nigeria.

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Posted in Africa, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Terrorism

(CT) Nigerian Christians Marched Sunday to Protest Persecution

Based on reports from its state chapters and local media, CAN estimates 5 million people marched in 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states on Sunday.

“Though we have protested before, this event took a new dimension,” CAN president Samson Ayokunle told CT.

“With one voice, we said ‘no’ to killings, ‘no’ to security negligence, and ‘no’ to the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. It is a wake-up call to the government.”

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Terrorism, Violence

(Daily Post) Boko Haram executes CAN chairman, Lawan Andimi

The Boko Haram sect has executed Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Lawan Andimi.

This was made known on Tuesday by Ahmed Salkida, a journalist known to have access to Boko Haram.

He tweeted: “To break some news items can traumatize. I’m battling with one of such. Reverend Andimi, abducted by Boko Haram was executed yesterday. Rev. Andimi was a church leader, a father to his children and the community he served. My condolences go to his family.”

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Posted in Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(This Day) Gunmen Free Woman After Collecting N60,000 Ransom, As Anglican Cleric and his Son are Attacked

[A] few hours after the release of a 60-year-old woman, Mrs. Banjo Ademiyiwa, sequel to the payment of N60,000 ransom, gunmen last Monday attacked an Anglican Church cleric, Reverend Canon Foluso Ogunsuyi, and his son, who is a Nigerian Army sergeant with machetes.

Ademiyiwa was kidnapped on Ikun-Oba Akiko Road in Akiko North West Local Government Area of Ondo State last Monday just around where Ogunsuyi and his son were attacked.

The cleric is the shepherd in charge of Danian Marian Memorial Anglican Church, Ikun Akoko in Akoko South-west LGA of the state.

A source told journalists that the gunmen during the attack collected valuables, including N92,000 cash from the vehicle in which the cleric and his son were travelling.

While the gunmen spared the cleric, his son who sustained several machete cuts, was admitted at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Owo.

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Posted in Children, Church of Nigeria, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Violence

(EF) Boko Haram kidnaps Christian leader of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria

A leader of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) pleaded for help on a video released on Sunday (Jan. 5) after Islamic extremists with Boko Haram kidnapped him last week.

The Rev. Lawan Andimi was abducted by terrorists of the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP, known as Boko Haram before affiliating with the Islamic State) on Thursday (Jan. 2) in attacks on Michika County and a nearby area in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, sources said.

Pastor Andimi, area EYN district chairman and chairman of the local chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, pleads with church leaders to ask Adamawa Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri to intervene for his release in the video. “I have never been discouraged, because all conditions that one finds himself is in the hands of God – God who made them to take care of me and to leave [me with] my life,” Pastor Andimi says.

“I am appealing to my colleagues, reverends, particularly my president, Rev. Joel Billy, who is a strong man, a man of compassion and man of love. He can do all his best to speak to our governor, Umaru Jibrilla [Fintiri] and other necessary agents for my release here.”

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Posted in Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Ajayi Crowther

Almighty God, who didst rescue Samuel Ajayi Crowther from slavery, sent him to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to his people in Nigeria, and made him the first bishop from the people of West Africa: Grant that those who follow in his steps may reap what he has sown and find abundant help for the harvest; through him who took upon himself the form of a slave that we might be free, the same Jesus Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Church of Nigeria, Missions, Nigeria, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Bernard-Henri Lévy–The New War Against Africa’s Christians

A slow-motion war is under way in Africa’s most populous country. It’s a massacre of Christians, massive in scale and horrific in brutality. And the world has hardly noticed.

A Nigerian Pentecostal Christian, director of a nongovernmental organization that works for mutual understanding between Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims, alerted me to it. “Have you heard of the Fulani?” he asked at our first meeting, in Paris, speaking the flawless, melodious English of the Nigerian elite. The Fulani are an ethnic group, generally described as shepherds from mostly Muslim Northern Nigeria, forced by climate change to move with their herds toward the more temperate Christian South. They number 14 million to 15 million in a nation of 191 million.

Among them is a violent element. “They are Islamic extremists of a new stripe,” the NGO director said, “more or less linked with Boko Haram,” the sect that became infamous for the 2014 kidnapping of 276 Christian girls in the state of Borno. “I beg you,” he said, “come and see for yourself.” Knowing of Boko Haram but nothing of the Fulani, I accept.

The 2019 Global Terrorism Index estimates that Fulani extremists have become deadlier than Boko Haram and accounted for the majority of the country’s 2,040 documented terrorist fatalities in 2018. To learn more about them, I travel to Godogodo, in the center of the country, where I meet a beautiful woman named Jumai Victor, 28. On July 15, she says, Fulani extremists stormed into her village on long-saddle motorcycles, three to a bike, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” They torched houses and killed her four children before her eyes.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Terrorism, Violence

(Guardian) Archbp John Sentamu–It’s time to act against the oil companies causing death and destruction

The legal system in Nigeria is cumbersome, costly and inefficient. Victims are rarely able to afford the means to justice and redress. While governments must accept a share of responsibility for this catastrophe, the onus lies largely with the multinational oil companies that dominate the scene. They drill and export the oil and gas. They own the inadequate and poorly maintained and poorly guarded infrastructure that have allowed oil spills and other forms of pollution to become systemic for people in Bayelsa.

All too often they do not respect their fundamental human rights and are getting away with a pollution footprint with global consequences, including climate change. Yet those who bear the immediate cost are the people of Bayelsa, where human life appears to be disposable in the pursuit of wealth.

Repentance, reparation and remedy for damage done for decades is long overdue. Too many people treat distant parts of the world like giant rubbish dumps. If you or I behaved like that in our locality, albeit on an infinitely smaller scale, we would be rightly prosecuted for fly-tipping.

We are all temporary tenants on this planet and will be held accountable for its management. Future generations will look at the state of their inheritance and will want to know who in the past benefited from its irresponsible exploitation and who paid the price for it. If there is still an opportunity for the present generation to make amends, we had better get on with it with the utmost urgency.

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Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Hundreds of Christians in Nigeria ‘slaughtered’ by Islamist militia this year

More than 1000 Christians in Nigeria have been “slaughtered” by Islamist militia since January.

This is the key finding of a new report, Your Land or Your Blood, from the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), which was presented at the International Organisation for Peace and Social Justice (PSJ) crisis conference in London, last month. The PSJ promotes peace-building and social justice in Nigeria.

Since January, there have been five serious attacks in Kaduna State, in the centre of the country, resulting in an estimated 500 deaths. There were at least another five attacks in the counties of Bassa and Riyom, and more in Taraba State. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram remains in power around the Chad border region, including parts of Borno State in the north (News, 19 March).

More than 6000 people have been killed since 2015.

Baroness Cox, who founded HART to promote and support peace and development groups in Nigeria, has recently returned from a research trip to the country. She explained that the Fulani, a nomadic ethnic group of about 20 million people across 20 West- and Central-African countries, were largely responsible for the new wave of violence. The terrorist group was listed as the fourth most deadly in the Global Terrorism Index in 2016 and 2017.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism

(MSN) Two Nigerian Evangelicals Executed in Boko Haram Video

Islamic extremist group Boko Haram released a video last week showing the execution of two Christian aid workers in Nigeria, sources said.

Lawrence Duna Dacighir and Godfrey Ali Shikagham, both members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in Plateau state, are shown kneeling while three masked, armed men stand behind them in a video posted September 22 on Boko Haram’s Amaq news agency site. The two young men, who had gone to Maiduguri to help build shelters for people displaced by Islamic extremist violence, are then shot from behind.

Speaking in the Hausa language, the middle one of the three terrorists says in the video that they have vowed to kill every Christian they capture in revenge for Muslims killed in past religious conflicts in Nigeria.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(EF) Decade of tears and blood: 10 years of Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria

A decade after Boko Haram began a bloody campaign to impose sharia (Islamic law) on all of Nigeria, Christian leaders say some areas are still under the control of the terrorists.

The Rev. Mohammed Abubakar Naga, chairman of the Borno state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), told Morning Star News that the terrorists are still active in the northeastern part of the country where the group originated and has displaced thousands of people, effectively closing many churches.

“Gwoza East, especially the hills, has been taken over by Boko Haram,” Pastor Naga said by phone. “The terrorists still attack Christian communities there. This is even with the presence of personnel of the Nigerian army in the area.” After beginning a violent campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria 10 years ago, Boko Haram has killed an estimated 35,000 civilians, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The agency said 37 aid workers lost their lives in the course of serving those displaced by the attacks. Two of the many pastors Boko Haram killed in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state include the Rev. Faye Pama Musa, then secretary of the CAN’s Borno state chapter, slain on May 14, 2013 after the terrorists followed him from his church building to his house and shot him to death; and Pentecostal pastor George Ojih, captured in 2009 and beheaded for refusing to recant his Christian faith.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism

(Christian Today) Baroness Caroline Cox–Genocide in Nigeria: does anyone care?

I have visited many of the worst affected areas and seen the tragedies of death and destruction.

One survivor told me: “The Fulani militants took my brother, his wife and all their six children. They tied and slaughtered them like animals. My sister was raped, and her wrists cut off before she was shot through the heart”.

A lady from a neighbouring village shared a similar story. She said: “The Fulani were hacking and killing people, making sure that those that were shot were finished off. They wore red to conceal blood on their clothes as they butchered their victims.”

In every village, the message from local people is the same: “Please, please help us! The Fulani ​are coming. We are not safe in our own homes.” Yet time and again, we have ignored their cry for help. We are indifferent to their suffering.

International law is clear: when something is a genocide, it is appropriate to act. No more excuses. The UK must give greater effect to our obligations as a signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention and our duty to protect. For the longer we tolerate these massacres, the more we embolden the perpetrators. We give them a ‘green light’ to carry on killing.

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Posted in Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Violence

(EF) Gideon Para-Mallam–An existential threat to Christianity in Nigeria? Systemic persecution and its implications

Terrorism as we know it today in West Africa thrives on religion, ignorance, and social disaffection. Christians in Nigeria are being killed with targeted precision, posing an existential threat to the church.

The virtual abandonment of missions and evangelism in some affected areas represents a clear danger. To succeed in the fight against terrorism, the youth across the religious and ethnic divide need to be united in working proactively to address this existential challenge. We cannot wait for governments to end the cycle of violence in our communities and nations.

We each have a role to play. Jesus has motivated and inspired me in the role I am playing: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God’ (Matt 5:9). Thankfully, the church’s hope in Nigeria remains firmly rooted in the God who promised: ‘I will not leave nor forsake you’ (Heb 13:5).

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Terrorism, Violence

(CP) Fulani killings of Nigerian Christians meets standard for ‘genocide,’ Jubilee Campaign says

An international human rights NGO has submitted research and data to the International Criminal Court contending that the standard for genocide has now been reached when it comes to the massacres of Christian farming communities in Nigeria by Fulani militants.

The Jubilee Campaign, which advocates on behalf of religious minorities across the globe and successfully petitioned the ICC to indict Boko Haram for their killings across northeastern Nigeria, submitted its new report “Nigeria: The Genocide is Loading” to the ICC’s investigative offices in Hague last week.

The report documents the increasing scale and severity of Fulani militant attacks against predominantly Christian farming communities in Nigeria and chronicles at least 52 Fulani militant attacks between the start of 2019 and June 12.

“Nearly every single day, I wake up with text messages from partners in Nigeria, such as this morning: ‘Herdsmen stab 49-year-old farmer to death in Ogan,’” human rights lawyer and Jubilee Campaign Director Ann Buwalda said during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C, this month.

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Posted in Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence

(NPR) Girls Captured By Boko Haram Brought Into Focus In ‘Beneath The Tamarind Tree’

The British Sierra Leonean journalist Isha Sesay led CNN’s Africa reporting for more than decade — covering stories ranging from the Arab Spring to the death of Nelson Mandela.

But now, in her first book, titled Beneath the Tamarind Tree, Sesay has a chance to explore, in depth, the story most important to her career and closest to her heart: the ISIS-affiliated terrorist group Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from the northern Nigerian town of Chibok.

Sesay broke the story and followed it for years, despite government obfuscation and waning international interest after a wave of social media activism (remember #BringBackOurGirls?). For two years, 219 of the girls remained in captivity and 112 are still imprisoned.

In Beneath the Tamarind Tree, Sesay combines the released Chibok girls’ stories with her own journalistic experiences to powerful effect.

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Posted in Books, Nigeria, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Violence, Women

(New Telegraph) Insecurity: Tackle arms smuggling, Anglican Bishop tells Nigerian President Buhari

The Bishop of Ijebu North Diocese, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Rt. Revd. Solomon Kuponu, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to find a lasting solution to arms smuggling which is posing serious threats to Nigeria’s internal security. The cleric made the call at the second session of the Fifth Synod of the diocese held at the St. James’ Anglican Church, Atikori, Ijebu- Igbo, with the theme: “Fight the Good Fight of Faith, Lay Hold on Eternal life.”

In his charge at the event, Kuponu expressed concern over the increasing rate of crime and arms proliferation in the country, noting that the arms being illegally imported into Nigeria were often used by bandits, militias and insurgents to terrorise innocent people. He condemned the nefarious activities of Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents, urging the Federal Government to confront them, and also asked the Buhari-led administration to dispense with commanders and intelligence chiefs that have failed the country in the fight against terrorism. He said: “Nigeria faces existential wars, terrorism and corruption. Both require sound strategies and continuous adaptation. Buhari should imbibe this in confronting the resurgent Boko Haram.”

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

A New Benjamin Kwashi Biography released for your reading list consideration

Herewith the blurb form the publishers website:

In the warzone that Nigeria has become, Archbishop Ben Kwashi has survived three assassination attempts. A brutal assault on his wife, Gloria, drove him to his knees – to forgive and find the strength to press on. Islamist militants have Nigeria in their sights. These are the terrorists who kidnapped hundreds of Christian schoolgirls – who have vowed to turn Africa’s most populous nation into a hard-line Islamic state. Their plan is to drive the Christian minority from the north by kidnapping, bombing and attacking churches. Plateau State is on the frontline. But holding that line against Boko Haram, and standing firm for the Gospel, is Ben Kwashi, the Anglican Archbishop of Jos. In Jos, churches have been turned into fortresses and Archbishop Ben now conducts more funerals than weddings and baptisms put together. Yet his faith grows ever more vibrant. He has adopted scores of orphans who live in his home, including many who are HIV positive. And the challenge of his message – to live for the Gospel even in the face of terror – has never been so timely.

Posted in Children, Church of Nigeria, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Bloomberg) ISIS, Largely Defeated at Home, Is Rebuilding in Africa

Western powers take the threat of Islamic State and other jihadis in Africa seriously. The U.S. has thousands of forces on the continent, provides intelligence and military support to several governments, and is stepping up airstrikes in Somalia, some of which are targeted at Islamic State. France has 4,500 counterterrorism troops in the West African Sahel region. The U.K.’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, suggested in May that London wanted to provide more military help against Iswap and Boko Haram, but that the Nigerian government was wary of hosting foreign combat troops.

Washington sees little risk of attacks on U.S. soil by the African cells of Islamic State, but it fears that could change if it takes over large territories or creates a caliphate on the continent akin to its former structure in the Middle East. Even if it doesn’t achieve that, Islamic State is already reaping benefits from its efforts. “What they’re doing in Africa is to show they have global reach,” says Judd Devermont, a former CIA analyst who’s now Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “They’re saying: We’re undefeated. We remain a player.”

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Globalization, Nigeria, Terrorism

(LSE BR) Basil Cayli reviews ‘How Violence Shapes Religion: Belief and Conflict in the Middle East and Africa’ by Ziya Meral

The relationship between violence and religion is highly complex. Reductive analyses and explanations produce destructive outcomes. In How Violence Shapes Religion: Belief and Conflict in the Middle East and Africa, author Ziya Meral avoids popular explanations and refutes instrumentalism to offer the reader a systematic comparison that uncovers the complicated relationship between violence and religion. The book conveys the argument that violence shapes religion at different levels and religion influences the situation before the use of violence, its legitimisation in the course of violent attacks and its aftermath in a post-conflict era. As a result, what we see through these multidimensional interactions ‘is not an outcome of an intrinsic clash between imagined civilizations, but a very real case of self-fulfilled prophecies that create new fault lines across the world’ (176).

The author’s personal, academic and professional curiosity directed him towards showing the complexities in the multifaceted relationship between violence and religion (5). Meral argues that exposing these helps us to better understand the grim realities that lead to violence in different societies, where religion is perceived as a formidable social, political and cultural force. For this reason, Meral’s principal argument is based on two cases: Nigeria and Egypt. The meticulous analyses of violence in these two nation states reveal the dynamics of the relationship between religion and violent conflict in today’s world.

The author asks two key questions: 1) ‘Do religions in general, if not particularly Islam, cause such conflicts?’; and (2) ‘Are we really witnessing an escalation to extremes at a planetary level between followers of the world’s two largest religions, Islam and Christianity, showing itself in local conflicts between Muslim and Christian communities?’ (20). The book employs a comparative approach and analyses these questions within a political science theoretical framework. The multiplicity of ethno-religious communities in Nigeria on the one hand, and the disruptions of violence on the other, make the country an interesting case to study. The comparison of Nigeria with Egypt increases the originality of the book because an overwhelming majority of the population observe Islam in Egypt, whereas Muslims make up almost half of the population of Nigeria and are concentrated in the northern part of the country. Violence between Christian and Muslim communities is prevalent in Nigeria, while Egypt has millions of Christians who are frequently subject to discrimination and violence.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Egypt, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Archbp of York) Major global inquiry launches to address human and environmental impact of oil companies operating in Nigeria

A major investigation into the activity of oil companies launches in Nigeria today led by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission will look into the human and environmental impact of the activity of multinational oil companies operating in Bayelsa State, in the Niger Delta. Ultimately the Commission’s aim is for oil companies to agree to a global standard of behaviour, conducting their operations in Bayelsa as they would in Norway, Scotland or the USA.

Commissioners include Baroness Valerie Amos, former Under Secretary General at the United Nations, and John Kufuor, former President of Ghana, as well as a number of high-level experts including pre-eminent expert on the Niger Delta, Dr. Michael Watts.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission has been convened by Henry Seriake Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State, in the Niger Delta, one of the largest oil and gas producing states in Nigeria.

Oil companies operating in the state have for decades acted with impunity and with little regard for the environment and people, causing multiple oil spills and leading to environmental degradation and loss of human life.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria

(Guardian) A Letter to the Editor from Archbp John Setamu and others–‘Double standards on oil spills in Nigeria must end’

The devastating impact of oil spills is widely recognised. The past decade has witnessed the destruction caused to human life and the environment from spills including the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and the Montara spill in Australia in 2009.

On each occasion the global community has reacted with horror, demanding the oil industry clean up local ecosystems and communities. Yet in Nigeria, and particularly in Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta, these calls are ignored.

Oil spills are a persistent feature of life in Bayelsa. While 4m litres of oil are spilled annually in the US, 40m litres are spilled in the Niger Delta.

Oil has poisoned the land and water. The contamination of fish and crops has destroyed livelihoods, decimated local employment opportunities and pushed many into militancy. Life expectancy in the Niger Delta is 10 years below the national average.

Multinational oil companies operate to severe double standards. While efforts are made to clean up spills in the US, Scotland or Norway, oil is left to flow unabated in Nigeria.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Religion & Culture

(Observer) Nigeria election marred by vote buying, tech failures and violence

Nigeria’s long-awaited presidential election went ahead on Saturday, marred by heavy gunfire in the north-east, killings in the south and reports of technology failures and vote buying across the country.

Some voters arrived at polling stations at 3am to ensure their ballot was counted in an election dominated by the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, and a former vice-president Atiku Abubakar.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

(Bloomberg) Six People Fall Into Extreme Poverty in Nigeria Every Minute

“I eat anything I see,” says Abdul Edosa, 30, as he sits under the bridge in the sprawling Nigerian commercial metropolis of Lagos, where he sleeps. “I beg money from people — anything they give me, I eat.”

Edosa’s is a familiar voice in the country with the world’s largest number of extremely poor, which the United Nations defines as living on less than $1.90 a day. The estimated figure now is 87 million people, or almost half the population of Africa’s biggest oil producer, and unless something dramatic happens, it’s going to get much bigger.

While poverty in India, which has five times the population, is declining, the number of destitute in Nigeria is believed to be growing by six people every minute, according to a recent paper from The Brookings Institution. The UN expects its population to double to 410 million by 2050, potentially swelling the ranks of the poor.

Edosa usually passes his nights with a handful of men and women on makeshift wooden beds under the bridge in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos state. Police trying to chase them away are a constant menace. A high-school dropout who did a stint as a television-repair apprentice, he now heads off each morning to look for odd jobs at building sites or hits the streets to beg.

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Posted in Africa, Nigeria, Poverty