The Federal Government says attacks targeted at Christians by insurgents are aimed at triggering religious war and throwing the nation into chaos. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday. Citing the attack on a Christian village, Kwarangulum near Chibok and the killing of some prominent Christian officials in recent times, he said the insurgents, having realized how emotive and divisive religion could be, were exploiting it.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria had in a statement Wednesday accused the Federal Government of not showing willingness to end the spate of killings by the Boko Haram insurgents and herdsmen in Nigeria, alleging that the government’s failure to arrest the criminals showed its insincerity and lack of commitment to protecting lives and property.
Lai Mohammed yesterday said the insurgents had run out of options in their battle against Nigeria and were now desperate to stay relevant hence devising this new means. The minister said though the insurgents deluded themselves as Muslims “they are nothing more than blood-thirsty, rapacious killers who subscribe to no religion”. He said they had recently started targeting Christians to sow the seed of confusion between “the two great religions.
This did not in any way signify that they’ve stopped attacking Muslims. But they seem to now have a deliberate policy of attacking Christians.” He said some people had misinterpreted this to insinuate a systematic campaign to persecute Christians in Nigeria. “The truth is that, having run out of options in their battle against Nigeria, the insurgents are desperate to stay relevant, to stay in the news, hence their cowardly and senseless strategy targeting Christians, as part of their increasing resort to the use of Guerrilla tactics,” he added.
The minister appealed to religious leaders, both Christians and Muslims, “not to fall for this desperate move by the insurgents, not to allow them to divide us as a people and weaken our resolve to deal the insurgents the mortal blow”. He also called for unwavering support to the military which, he stated, had upped the ante against the insurgents.
According to him, the resort to the increasing use of Guerrilla tactics by the insurgents is a sign of weakness on their part. “Contrary to the belief in certain quarters, these insurgents are getting weaker by the day, thanks to the gallantry of our men and women in uniform” he stated. He said the renewed vigour by the military in the war against the insurgents was paying off handsomel, judging by the victories they had recorded in recent times. The minister urged Nigerians to “support the military as it moves to decapitate the insurgents. Second-guessing the military at this time is like playing into the hands of Boko Haram”.