NIGERIA: Upsurge in Boko Haram violence ahead of election

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja, Nigeria (© ACN)
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja, Nigeria (© ACN)

Renewed Boko Haram attacks in the days leading up to Nigeria’s presidential election show that the extremists are “far from being defeated” – according to a Catholic leader in the country.

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that parts of the country have experienced an upsurge in violence ahead of polls on Saturday (16th February).

“The threat by Boko Haram is still real – they are far from being defeated.”

He said: “Attacks by Boko Haram have surprisingly intensified in the last couple of days in areas like Michika, Shuwa, Madagali, Mubi, in Borno and Adamawa States.

“Some people say that the renewed attacks are politically motivated or sponsored to score political points or may be an attempt to disenfranchise some of the electorate during the elections.

“It is clear however that Boko Haram wants to make a statement that it has not been defeated.

“The threat by Boko Haram is still real – they are far from being defeated.”

The Islamist militia group has killed more than 20,000 people, and caused the displacement of more than 1.3 million during their campaign to seize north-eastern Nigeria.

Archbishop Kaigama said that even before the run-up to the elections Boko Haram had intensified attacks on the Nigerian military and NGO workers.

He said: “The insurgents have become so daring as to take on armed personnel and to inflict heavy casualties on them and not even sparing international aid workers.

“They boldly warn the international community to stay off their track.

“They are doing their best to take over certain parts of Nigeria and neighbouring countries to consolidate their quest for the Islamic State of West Africa.”

Archbishop Kaigama expressed fears that the country could suffer if violence disrupts the the voting.

The bishop said: “If the elections are marred by violence many innocent Nigerians will pay the price.

“I hope for fair, peaceful and credible elections – for good, patriotic, selfless and God-fearing leaders to emerge, who will be more concerned about the masses rather than their personal ambition and luxury of office.”

Prayers for peaceful elections and stability in Nigeria

Archbishop Kaigama called for prayers as the country elects the President, Vice President and the National Assembly on 16th February, and holds Governorship & State House of Assembly elections on 2nd March.

He said: “ACN can mobilise their world network of friends, benefactors and supporters to commit Nigeria to special prayers at this critical time of elections…

“Let us be in communion of prayers for peaceful elections and general stability.”