Nigeria Christians vow to defend themselves

2011-12-29 08:59

Abuja - Nigerian Christians vowed on Wednesday to defend themselves after a string of attacks blamed on Islamists as the bombing of an Arabic school raised fears of reprisals.

Police said attackers threw a "low-capacity" bomb into an Arabic school in a drive-by attack in Nigeria's mainly Christian south, wounding six children and an adult on Tuesday evening. Nobody has claimed responsibility.

The attack followed Christmas Day bombings blamed on the Islamist Boko Haram group that killed 40 people in several towns - the deadliest an explosion outside a Catholic church near the capital Abuja.

The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Reverend Ayo Oritsejafor, urged followers on Wednesday not to take revenge but said they should defend themselves, their property and their places of worship "any way they can".

"The consensus is that the Christian community nationwide will be left with no other option than to respond appropriately if there are any further attacks on our members, churches and property," Oritsejafor told reporters.

As frustration rose over the state's seeming inability to stop attacks despite military crackdowns, President Goodluck Jonathan said: "we are doing our best" with the assistance of African and other countries that have experienced extremist attacks in the past.

"... we will restructure, we will readjust and make sure that we get a team that will meet with this challenge that we are facing today," he said, adding that arrests had been made and "interrogation is being done".

Jonathan urged Nigerians not to shield the culprits.

Ugly situation

"The terrorists are human beings, they are not spirits. They live with us, they dine with us. So we know them, people know them. And as long as Nigerians are committed to exposing them, we [will] get over this ugly situation."

Nigerian leaders have been seeking to calm tensions amid fears the Christmas attacks could set off sectarian clashes in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer. The country is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

It was not clear who was behind the bomb attack on the Arabic school in Delta state in the oil-producing Niger Delta region.

Police spokesman Charles Mouka said it occurred while a group of children between the ages of five and eight attended evening Arabic and Koranic lessons.

While scores of explosions have hit the Delta region in recent years, they have mainly targeted oil installations and the attacks have not been of a sectarian character.

Christian leaders urged the government and intelligence authorities to take action against spiralling violence blamed on Boko Haram, and Oritsejafor labelled the attacks "a declaration of war on Christians and Nigeria as an entity".

He said Christians should protect themselves "any way they can".

Also on Wednesday, a coalition of Nigerian Pentecostal churches said they would defend themselves if the authorities failed to do so, though an official stressed they were not advocating taking up arms.

"In the year 2012, if these unprovoked attacks continue and Christians remain unprotected by the security agencies, then we will have no choice but to defend our lives and property," the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria said.

"Retaliation not the answer"

Nigeria's top Muslim spiritual leader met Jonathan over the attacks on Tuesday, stating afterwards that the violence did not signal a religious conflict.

"I want to assure all Nigerians that there is no conflict between Muslims and Christians, between Islam and Christianity," Sultan of Sokoto Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar told journalists.

"It's a conflict between evil people and good people. The good people are more than the evil ones, so the good people must come together to defeat the evil ones, and that is the message."

The president's national security adviser urged Christians not to seek revenge.

"Retaliation is not the answer, because if you retaliate, at what point will it end? Nigeria must survive as a nation," Owoye Azazi said.

Violence had been raging even in the days before the Christmas bombings, especially in the northeastern cities of Damaturu, Potiskum and Maiduguri. Most of the incidents attributed to Boko Haram have occurred in the northeast.

Officials were rushing to provide relief to some 90 000 people displaced in Damaturu after clashes last week between Boko Haram and security forces.

Up to 100 people were feared killed in Damaturu, a police source and rights group said.

"We advised the displaced against moving into any temporary camp for security reasons, therefore most of them are sheltering in the homes of friends and relatives in the city and neighbouring villages," said Ibrahim Farinloye of the National Emergency Management Agency.

  • mamoshianem1 - 2011-12-29 09:31

    President of Nigeria must divide his country according to religions.Revenge will make no difference.Two wrongs will make no right.

      Vince.York - 2011-12-29 11:30

      If two wrongs make no rights, then WHY is SA still perpetrating racism in so many ways against it's white citizens through attitudes, legislation and policies? Don't for a second even TRY to white wash them to be "right" as they are equally as RACIST as anything evidenced before in this country especially when enforced in ever greater degrees in these the most harsh economic times in recorded history. Theeafter concentrate on the fast encroaching racist Islamic "extremism" perpetrated against us Africans in the holy jihad to colonize the continent and eradicate & annihilate all opposition along the way.

  • Breinlekkasie - 2011-12-29 09:47

    Nuclear weapons! Give them nuclear weapons! They will soon evaporate their differences!

  • colin.dovey - 2011-12-29 09:50

    What a ridiculous suggestion....The most numerous ethnic group in the northern two-thirds of the country is the Hausa-Fulani,the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslim. Other major ethnic groups of the north are the Nupe, Tiv, and Kanuri. The Yoruba people are the most numerous in the southwest. Over half of the Yorubas are Christian and about a quarter are Muslim, with the remainder hold traditional Yoruba views. The predominantly Christian Igbo are the largest ethnic group in the southeast. Roman Catholics are the largest denomination, but Pentecostal and other Evangelical denominations are also strong. The Efik, Ibibio, Annang, and Ijaw (the country's fourth-largest ethnic group) communities also comprise a substantial segment of the population in that area. Now where do you propose START "dividing" up this population?

      James - 2011-12-29 09:59

      Xavier, if you look at the issue ethnically rather than religiously, the country splits easily into three main groups. Hausa in the North, Yoruba in the South West and Igbo (and related tribes like the Efik) in the east. The tribal association is much stronger than the religious association. Thus Christian and Muslim Yorubas will get on much better with each other than Christian Yorubas and Christian Igbos. However..... the oil is in the South East so forget any split at all!!!!

      richard.hipkin - 2011-12-29 10:01

      Spot on!

  • Wendy - 2011-12-29 09:55

    Unbelievable what people have and are doing under the guise of religion.

  • MarkPNaidoo - 2011-12-29 09:59

    Yes! Christians should protect themselves against extremist organisations but never MUST never resort to violence. Remembering Jesus died on the cross for their sins.

      Audi2005 - 2011-12-29 10:16

      Jesus died for the whole world not for christians.

  • pinehas.m.amadhila - 2011-12-29 14:45

    I urge fellow Nigerians to embrace on mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence to learn to live together in togetherness. Nigeria belongs to Nigerians with the commitments to bring the difference lies entirely with you. I remember to fight over Islam or Christianity is irrelevant, because these cults brought to our Continent by either Arabs and Europeans in order to colonize us. I remember a say by archbishop Desmond Tutu of Cape Town South Africa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, which says and I quote "They came with the Bible and told us, let us pray, we closed our eyes, when we opened our eyes the land was gone" That is poverty why some of these hatred happened in our African Continent, someone must the the blame for this unfortunate situation. Finally, President Goodluck Jonathan stand behind your people and unite in the richest country in Africa, otherwise your oil will be taken by aliens.

  • pages:
  • 1