Nigerian Archbishop Criticizes Government's Failure Over Terrorist Attacks

Criticism Follows Attack on Catholic Cathedral By Suicide Bomber

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JOS, Nigeria, SEPT. 25, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos and current president of the Nigerian Bishops Conference issued a strongly worded criticism of the Nigerian government, saying that they have failed "to get on top of the security situation". The statement follows a deadly suicide bombing outside a Catholic Church in Nigeria. Three people were killed and 45 wounded in the attack. A militant islamist group, Boko Haram, is suspected of carrying out the bombing. The group has carried out several violent attacks targeting Christians in the country.

Commenting on Sunday’s bomb blast, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos criticized President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime of ineffective intelligence gathering and a failure to root out the perpetrators.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Kaigama said that, despite the attack outside St John’s Catholic Cathedral, in the northern city of Bauchi, the Christian faithful would not be deterred from practising their religion.

In the second attack against Christians in Bauchi within a week, the dead included a boy, a young woman and the suicide bomber who reportedly rammed his car into a security barrier outside the cathedral.

While nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack, Archbishop Kaigama described it as “typical” of Islamist group Boko Haram who since 2010 has reportedly killed 1,400 people in attacks on churches, government and security buildings, and markets.  "We are very unhappy with the government’s record on tackling the violence," he said.

"The government and the security services do not seem to be able to find out who is responsible for these attacks. I do not feel that they have got to the root of the matter. Unless the individuals are identified, we will continue to go round in circles and the violence will occur again and again. The government is not on top of the security situation."

Calling on the government to step up security, he added: "The government say they are handling the matter and that the police are taking action but I do not see any improvement. People cannot assemble freely. Until people can gather freely, it will be very difficult to see a way forward."

The Nigerian prelate said the in spite of the violence, the Christian faithful refused to be cowed by the militants, while saying that "there is anger; there is fear and anxiety – everything – a real mixture of emotions."

"People somehow have become much stronger. If there is any event in that cathedral over the coming days, you can be sure that it will be full. No matter what, the people will not give into Boko Haram and other extremists. They have a courage and a determination to go back to church regardless of the dangers," Archbishop Kaigama said.

The president of the Nigerian Bishops Conference said that despite the loss of life, the death toll would have been much higher had security precautions not been in place, including barricades at the gates of Archbishop Kaigama concluded the interview expressing sadness at what he called “the indoctrination” of young suicide bombers, saying that it "is difficult to imagine a Nigerian deciding he is prepared to die like this."

"Before, it would never have happened here. Nigerians love life. They suffer and smile," he said.