(Vatican Radio) One hundred and thirty five civilians have reportedly been killed
in North East Nigeria since Wednesday.
The killings, which took place in the State of Borno, were carried out in at least three separate attacks.
The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement.
Human rights organizations say that at least 1,500 people, half of them civilian, have been killed in the region this year.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos in Plateau State which is also in the North Eastern region of Nigeria.
Archbishop Kaigama appeals for help and support in tracing the roots of the Boko Haram group in what could prove a necessary attempt to reveal who is behind the group, who provides its militants with arms, what is its scope beyond wreaking fear, death and destruction…
Listen to Linda Bordoni’s interview with Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama…
Archbishop Kaigama says the attacks by the so called Boko Haram result in highly distressing daily news, “ persistent and murderous attacks that bring about the death of many, many innocent Nigerians”.
He says the attacks have been ongoing despite a number of so-called attempts and measures put into place by the Government to bring them to an end.
Archbishop Kaigama says the attacks are “growing in destructive proportion and are growing in sophistication” and he points out that he is talking about the nature of the attacks and the way Boko Haram goes about them.
“Boko Haram” continues to kill people like animals. I don’t know for what motive. They say it is about religion but I ask: which kind of civilized religion will kill people so aimlessly”.
Initially – the Archbishop explains – “we thought they didn’t like the Christianity and that they were fighting against the Church. Yes they did cause terrible destruction to Christians and to the Church” he said.
“But now their destruction is aimless: they kill young people, they kill women, they kill children. Anybody in sight. It is horrendous” he said.
“We keep praying that God will create in these people a change of heart. We keep praying especially in this Passion week that the Passion for Christ be a reason for these people to know that human life is sacred and they should not kill for any reason” he said.
The Archbishop says the international community can lend its support in “walking together to trace the roots of the organization”.
He describes an undoubtedly growing sophistication in the approach of Boko Haram: “I keep asking the question why our security agents, upon whom so much has been invested by the government, are not getting results: namely to frustrate the destructive activities of Boko Haram”.
“This means that Boko Haram must have some kind of backing, whether it be international, or whatever” he said.
So – continues – the support that can come from the international community is to help trace the roots of Boko Haram: “who are their sponsors? Who pays for the sophisticated weapons that they use? Are these people really Boko Haram or are they people who have some political agenda?”
Archbishop Kaigama says it’s getting “a bit confusing. Is Boko Haram really an organization that is against Western education? Or is it a political force that intends to invade Nigeria and create mayhem? We should have our eyes open. And the international community should see that if Nigeria falls to Boko Haram, then the rest of Africa is in jeopardy”.
The Archbishop calls on the international community to offer intelligence services and frustrate the roots of Boko Haram by finding out “how they communicate, how they bring in arms, how they train their people… definitely, someone – somewhere – must be responsible, and the international community can help us uncover this” he said.
Archbishop Kaigama says the bishops and other religious and civil society leaders have done what they can by promoting dialogue and so on and says they still keep trying.
He speaks of a national congress that is ongoing organized by the government to discuss the problem and he expresses his hope that it will tackle just three issues: “ it would be an important step forward” he said.
The issues he points to are three: 1) Insecurity; 2) Lack of employment for young people; 3 ) corruption which is a virus that affects nearly every sector of society.