The immolation of a Catholic Priest — Nigerian Tribune Editorial

Posted by News Express | 23 January 2023 | 391 times

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•Late Father Isaac Achi


Two separate incidents last Sunday involving Catholic priests in the North-Central and North-West states of Niger and Katsina respectively underscore the continued threat to life and property in the country under the Muhammadu Buhari administration. In the first incident, unidentified gunmen attacked the village of Kafin-Koro in the Paikoro Local Government Area of Niger State, where they torched the house of one Father Isaac Achi. Unable to escape, the priest died in the ensuing inferno. In a similar incident on the same day, assailants on motorcycles reportedly abducted scores of worshippers after attacking the New Life Church in the village of Mai-Tsauni in Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State.

Reactions to these unfortunate incidents, the latest in a series of attacks involving religious figures and institutions, have followed the established pattern. For instance, the senator representing the Niger East Senatorial District, Sani Musa, has promised the usual “overhauling” of the state’s “security infrastructure.” For their part, the authorities in Katsina State, while insisting that only five worshippers were kidnapped, have promised to go after the gunmen and retrieve the abductees. Fat chance.

Judging by their reaction, members of the affected communities do not trust the authorities to honour their word. For instance, the following Tuesday, irate community women and youths stormed and burned down the Kafin-Koro police station. While we do not condone any group of people taking the law into their own hands under any circumstances, it would be dishonest to say that we do not intuit the frustration that led the aggrieved citizens to take out their anger on the police station. The truth of the matter is that while no part of the country has been spared from attacks by assorted bandits, insurgents and gunmen, far too often, religious groups and individuals have been adversely affected.

Examples abound. In June last year, at least 40 worshippers were killed after unidentified gunmen stormed the St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State. Last August, four Catholic nuns were kidnapped by gunmen near the town of Okigwe, Imo State. Between 2015 and 2020, an estimated 12,000 Christians were killed by “Boko Haram, Jihadist Fulani herdsmen, and bandits or highway kidnappers.” At least 2,000 churches are believed to have been destroyed within the same period.

That the actors behind these attacks have not been apprehended by law enforcement is just one part of ordinary people’s annoyance. More aggravating is the fact that the authorities, especially at the federal level, appear to have given up, with their attention focused on counting down the number of days before the reins of power are handed over to the next administration. Nigerians can’t wait to see their back.

Source: News Express

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