The Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese, Most Rev. Joseph Bagobiri has called for an effective synergy by all Christian denominations in the country to counter the systematic elimination of Christianity in the Northern part of the country.
Bishop Bagobiri made the call while receiving the official delegation of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) which visited him in Kafanchan, recently to commiserate with him, the entire Catholic faithful and Christian community of Southern Kaduna on the recent atrocities of Fulani Cattle herdsmen in the area, which resulted in the deaths of Thousands of Christians and destruction of property worth millions of Naira.
The delegation was led by the President of the Bishops Conference and Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama. He was accompanied on the visit by Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu, Secretary General of Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN); Rev. Fr. Zacharia Samjumi, CSN Deputy Secretary General and Rev. Fr. Chris N. Anyanwu, the Director of Social Communications at the secretariat.
The delegation was also in Kafanchan in the words of Archbishop Kaigama “to see you since you came back from your medical trip abroad.” He added: “We are happy that you are fairly OK now and that you are responding to treatment. It is our prayer that God will renew your energy and grant you total healing.”
According to Bishop Bagobiri the Christians of Southern Kaduna have taken their case to God in prayer for Him to fight their battle for them because He is the only one who can rescue them from this systematic elimination of Christians in the area which has the support of both the Federal and State governments as well as the country’s security agents.
His words: “since we have no government that would listen to our plight, we have carried our case directly to God. It is only God that can save us from our present situation. Our hope in Him is never in vain since he knows our problem and He will deliver us one day just as he delivered the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians.”
Bishop Bagobiri disclosed that the challenges of the survival of Christianity in Northern Nigeria are premised on structural injustice which has become institutionalized in the Northern part of the country, especially Southern Kaduna. He therefore advocated that the church must evolve new ways to enable the faithful stand for their faith in the face of persecution. The Bishop who itemized the injustices to include inequitable distribution of amenities, infrastructures and positions and political appointments remarked: “We have greater challenges on how Christianity can survive in Northern Nigerian especially in Southern Kaduna because of the structural injustice that is already institutionalized.”
He added: “We as a Church must evolve new ways on how we can face violence without losing faith. It is our prayer that God will give us his strength and the needed direction on how to make Christianity survive despite the constant attacks and persecutions we received.”
In his own remarks on how to counter structural injustices which have been identified as one of the root causes of conflict in Northern Nigeria, the CBCN President, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama suggested: “first and foremost, we must continually make noise and bring to the fore the structural injustice embedded in the system of government.”
He added: “Secondly, we must use constitutional means to fight for our rights. Where it becomes necessary, we must go to Court and use Human Rights Lawyers that are sympathetic to the course of Justice; not only as a Church but also as citizens of this country.”
It will be recalled that while delivering a lecture on the same issue at an international conference in New York, United States of America (USA), in 2016, Bishop Bagobiri described the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents and the Fulani Cattle herdsmen atrocities in the Northern part of the country as a systematic attempt to eliminate Christianity in the Northern part of the country. He identified several incidents to justify his claim.
The Bishop’s submission was contained in a presentation titled: The Impact of Persistent Violence on the Church in Northern Nigeria; at an international conference at the headquarters of the United Nations Organization (UNO), in New York. The global Congress was co-sponsored by the Holy See and Citizen Go, a non-Government Agency (NGO) based in Madrid, Spain. The conference focused on: Defending Religious freedom and other rights; Stopping mass atrocities against Christians and other believers.