Letter to the Nigerian president
To Mr Umaru Musa Yar'Adua
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Geneva, 4 August 2009
On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I am writing to you to express our concern regarding the recent violence that erupted in Maiduguri and other areas of northern Nigeria following clashes between members of Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group, and the security forces that left hundreds dead during the past week. It is unfortunate that Maiduguri has seen the worst of this unrest after the uprising that began in Bauchi state and spread to four other northern states of Nigeria.
Nigeria has long suffered from ethno-religious conflicts, communal and political tensions and surges in militant activities, which have frequently led to violence in different parts of the country. It is unfortunate that inter-communal violence has already claimed the lives of more than 12,000 Nigerians during the past decade. We have also learnt that the civilian fallout from clashes between the military and armed militants and from outbreaks of sectarian violence has cost hundreds of lives lost over the past two years. Reports from various sources confirmed the fact that the reasons for this violence are rooted in politics rather than religion. Widespread poverty, corruption, poor governance and political instability continue to push the country towards violence and insecurity. All these events are taking place without comprehensive and drastic measures to address widespread unemployment and poverty in the country. It is also a matter of concern that these conflicts have been exacerbated by state-sponsored abuses by the security forces, including extra-judicial killings and torture.
Although it is a known fact that Your Excellency’s government has inherited several of these problems from the previous administration, we view as promising certain policy initiatives established under your administration, including the formation of a committee on police reform and a presidential panel to investigate the 2008 inter-communal violence in Jos. However, it is our considered opinion that 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.
We therefore urge Your Excellency to pay serious attention to the situation in the northern states of Nigeria; to ensure the safety of all citizens in the areas now afflicted with violence; and to ensure that all perpetrators responsible for these acts of violence and human rights violations are brought to justice.
Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
WCC general secretary