By Akanimo Sampson
Apparently worried by the continued bloodletting in Nigeria, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) has urged the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, to rise quickly in defence of Christians all over the country.
MRG’s Director of Policy and Communications, Carl Soderbergh, says it is critical that the Nigerian government under the watch of President Buhari, a retired Army Major General, acts quickly to defend its population, as well as bring perpetrators of the violence to justice.
According to the minority rights group, “the threat to civilians in much of Nigeria, and specifically Christian communities in the North, from Boko Haram has reached a crisis level.’’
The group, a leading international human rights organisation that is working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples, has also warned that Nigeria risks heading into a sectarian conflict if the government does not act decisively in the face of violent attacks committed by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and other killer groups.
Jihadists, particularly Boko Haram and its allies have been targeting primarily, members of the Christian community in the Muslim majority Northern Nigeria, although it has carried out bomb attacks across the country.
During January 2012 alone, for instance, the result, according to MRG, has been over 250 people killed and an estimated over 2000 dead since the group launched its campaign of violence in 2009.
MRG’s Head of Conflict Prevention, Chris Chapman, said “the violence is occurring against a backdrop of chronic poverty in the Northern parts of Nigeria. There is an urgent need for the government to address unequal access to resources, as well as formulate a long-term strategy to combat religious intolerance, otherwise, there is a real risk that the violence may escalate into a wider conflict.’’
Boko Haram has been claiming responsibility for a spate of coordinated deadly assaults that have left hundreds dead, including a series of attacks on churches, killing people. While continuing to target government institutions like the army and police, Boko Haram seems to have moved on to articulate an anti-Christian ideology through its increased attacks on Christians.
Interestingly, the Buhari administration has been responding by deploying troops to the flashpoints of the country.
The Nigerian Army recently confirmed an ambush by the Boko Haram terrorists on the convoy of the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD), Maj.-Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi.
The Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, in a statement early this January stated that the attack took place about two Kilometers to Auno in Kaga Local Government Area of Borno State.
Iliyasu said the Commander was returning from Jakana, where he visited troops’ location, following his earlier meeting at Auno with the Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno, adding that the ambush was a clear display of misguided desperation to stage a reprisal following the recent neutralisation of several of their top commanders by troops on December 6.
According to him, the Theatre Commander led the gallant troops of his convoy to engage the insurgents with superior firepower, subduing them and thereafter assaulting the ambush site with his men.