Brethren leader sends update on violence in Nigeria, interfaith delegation issues report




Mission and service executive Jay Wittmeyer leads prayer for Nigeria during the recent Annual Conference.
Photo by Glenn Riegel
Mission and service executive Jay Wittmeyer leads prayer for peace in Nigeria during the recent Annual Conference.

A leader of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has sent an e-mail report on recent violence in Nigeria. Also, a new Christian and Muslim alliance committed to solving tensions in Nigeria has been announced by the World Council of Churches (see "In related news" below).

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The church leader’s report from the area around the central Nigerian city of Jos focused mainly on attacks on nearby villages earlier this month. He did not say the most recent violence has affected EYN churches or members.

A number of villages near Jos were attacked by gunmen. During a mass burial of the people who had been killed, another attack by gunmen on July 8 killed government officials including a senator and a house of assembly member, among other people. Also a member of the house of representatives was injured and hospitalized.

“This gave a record of the first time when top government officials were killed in ethnic, religious, and political or socio-economic violence in Nigeria,” the church leader wrote.

On July 13 a suicide bomber failed in an attempt targeting government officials in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. “In this attack five people died including the suicide bomber,” the church leader wrote. “The police reported that the Emir and the deputy governor escaped death just some meters from where the explosion started.”

On July 16, gun shots and explosions rocked Damaturu, the state capital of Yobe State. Since then, an explosion at an Islamic school located in Bukuru, near Jos, killed at least one student and broke down walls at the school.

In addition, Nigerian media has reported difficulties in getting food and relief supplies to refugees from the villages that were attacked, who have been living in camps. The media reports seem to indicate most of the recent violence around Jos likely stems from inter-ethnic conflict, although some days later the Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility.

The church leader expressed frustration that “since the crisis has so many heads (folds) true interpretation...will always have a different meaning for the opposite faith.”

He also sent thanks for the prayers of American Brethren. “We want to thank you all for your prayers always,” he wrote.
 
In related news:

The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought (RABIIT) sent a high-level interreligious delegation to the Nigerian cities of Abuja, Jos, and Kaduna in May. The delegation’s report discusses complex reasons behind the violence, suggesting that it goes beyond religion and is rooted in a matrix of political, social, ethnic, economic, and legal problems.

“The issue of justice--or the lack of it--looms large as a common factor,” said Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, chairman of the RABIIT. The delegation also expressed admiration for the vast majority of Nigerians who do not want their religion to be used to propagate violence.

Read the full text of the “Report on the inter-religious tensions and crisis in Nigeria” at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/interreligious-dialogue-and-cooperation/accompanying-churches-in-conflict-situations/report-on-the-inter-religious-tensions-in-nigeria.html .

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