Thursday, July 30, 2009

World Council of Churches sends letter to Nigerian President.

Two ecumenical bodies--the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Association of Nigeria--have issued statements on the recent violence in northeastern Nigeria. Also, updates have been received from Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria); see story below.

The WCC has called on the Nigerian government to ensure the safety of all its citizens, according to a release from the organization. WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia in a letter to Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua sent on Aug. 4, has urged the government to "ensure the safety of all citizens" as well as to see that "all perpetrators (of) acts of violence and human rights violations are brought to justice."

The letter responds to the recent outbreak of violence in the city of Maiduguri and other areas of northeastern Nigeria following clashes between a militant Islamist group and security forces. Some 800 people were killed, including "more than 50 Christians," while "at least 13 churches (...) have been destroyed," according to the WCC release. Two EYN congregations were among those affected by violence in Maiduguri, and several Brethren members in Maiduguri were injured or killed (see the Newsline Special Report of July 29).

Kobia also wrote to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). "We condemn and deplore such wanton acts of violence," his letter to CAN said. The WCC release noted that Nigeria is almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, with the northern population being mainly followers of Islam and Christians being more numerous in the south.

Regretting that "inter-communal violence has already claimed the lives of more than 12,000 Nigerians during the past decade," Kobia stated in his letter to the Nigerian president that "the reasons for this violence are rooted in politics rather than religion." Among the factors that "push the country towards violence and insecurity," he listed: "Widespread poverty, corruption, poor governance, and political instability," as well as "abuses by the security forces, including extra-judicial killings and torture."

Commending some "promising" governmental initiatives regarding police reform and the investigation of a 2008 incident of inter-communal violence, Kobia pointed out: "These initiatives have yet to make a tangible impact on the lives of ordinary Nigerians who are constantly facing blatant violations of their human and fundamental rights."

Go to for the full text of Kobia's letter to the Nigerian president. Go to for his letter to the
Christian Association of Nigeria.

Source: 8/6/2009 Newsline Extra

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