|NIGERIA (Showing the States)|
Nigeria is the 7th most populous country in the world , and the most populous in Africa. With an estimated population of 183,500,000 it contains 2.5% of the entire world population.Even by economic standards it is the 22nd largest country in the world by GDP and the largest in Africa.
( For comparison's sake - for my fellow Australian readers - Australia is the 52nd largest country in the world by population with 23,800,000 people -0.328% of the world's population , but it ranks 12th in the world by GDP which is more than double that of Nigeria.)
By any standard, what happens in Nigeria is of world importance. But it is fair to say that this fact is not well-recognised in the mainstream media, and even less well appreciated in Australia where the popular focus on Africa is hazy or almost lost in impenetrable fog.
Most readers will be familiar with the name BOKO HARAM even despite that "impenetrable fog". The name means " Western Education is forbidden". Needless to say, it is yet another violent Mohammedan organisation. Very recently it has declared itself to be aligned with DAESH ( sometimes called ISIL or the Islamic State - though it is not a State at all).
We will give an account of the depredations of Boko Haram upon the the People of Borno State in far North-Eastern Nigeria . The mindless violence and horrible nature and extent of the persecution will shock most readers. Our story will have at its centre the effects on the Diocese of Maiduguri . Maiduguri is the third largest city in Nigeria after Lagos the large port city in the South West of the Country and Abuja the National Capital in the centre of the Country.
Boko Haram was founded in 2002 and is said to have between 7,000 and 10,000 adherents. Its present major stronghold is in the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.Increasing radicalisation of the organisation led to a 2009 rebellion which was defeated and led to the execution of Boko Haram's Leader. Many of its fighters were imprisoned, but they later escaped en masse. Since then the organisation has launched an increasingly vicious terrorist war.
The Diocese of Maiduguri
|BISHOP DOEME OF MAIDUGURI MOVES AMONG THE RUINS OF A DESTROYED CHURCH|
The majority of the population within the boundaries of Maiduguri Diocese - 5,200,000 before the recent Boko Haram terrorism,is Mohammedan. In fact, Borno State is regarded as the cradle of Mohammedanism in Nigeria.There are 221,000 Catholics - 4.25 % of the population. In addition, there are believed to be some 1,000,000 plus Internally Displaced Persons who have come within the bounds of the Diocese to escape the depredations of Boko Haram.
|BISHOP DOEME AT AN AID DISTRIBUTION CENTRE|
We need to recall that the first Mass was celebrated in the region of the future Diocese only in 1939.
To-day the Diocese of Maiduguri has a Nigerian Bishop - Oliver Dashe Doeme ( appointed 6th June, 2009) and there are 63 Nigerian Priests. There are 56 Major Seminarians and 192 Minor Seminarians ,and 38 Nigerian Nuns, and 5 Religious Novices. All of this was begun in the work of Father J. Hanley OSA - an Irish Augustinian starting from that first Mass in 1939. The Holy Spirit has been vigorously at work, and we recall that " wherever two or three are gathered in My Name, there Am I in the midst of them."
THE PRESENT CRISIS
|VICAR GENERAL FATHER GIDEON OBASOGIE|
Here is an account of the present situation given by the Vicar General of the Diocese Father Gideon Obasogie :
|BISHOP DOEME GREETS A GROUP OF WOMEN OF THE DIOCESE|
In July, 2009 Boko Haram really began to make its presence felt, It perpetrated a series of religiously based terrorist attacks which resulted in the deaths of over 700 people. From that time on, like diabolically crazed hordes,they have, month after month, carried out their evil attacks relentlessly killing up to 13,000 people.Human nature is such that readers would find a timeline record of these attacks tedious reading.But do consider the impact on the communities, the widows, the orphans, the bereaved, the homeless and the destitute , and you will begin to appreciate the scale of this tragedy.
Since we are not going to review all of the attacks, we will detail several to further highlight the evil nature of what is going on.
In 2011, on Christmas day, 41 people were killed in Boko Haram attacks on Christian churches.
In 2012, on January 20th, Boko Haram terrorists killed 183 people including 32 Police Officers in Kano State.
In 2012 on Christmas Day 27 Christians were killed in Maiduguri and Potiskum by Boko Haram terrorists.
In 2013 on 6th July, 42 were killed at Yobe Public School by Boko Haram terrorists.
In 2014 on 14th February, 121 Christian villagers in Konduga, Borno State were killed by Boko Haram terrorist attack.
In 2014 on 15th April Boko Haram terrorists kidnap 276 Christian girls from Chibok in Borno State.
In 2014 on 5th May Boko Haram terrorists kill 300 people in the twin towns of Gamboru and Ngala in Borno State.
In 2015 on 10th January, a 10 yrs old female suicide bomber killed herself and 19 others in a market at Maiduguri,
In 2015 on 7th March, 5 suicide bombers of Boko Haram killed themselves and killed 54 citizens and wounded 143 others in Maiduguri.
We could choose many other dates on which the same or worse atrocities were perpetrated by Boko Haram .Everyone will realise the destabilising effect such random death and destruction causes among the large population of the region.
|REFUGEE CAMP -WELCOME FOR THE BISHOPS|
THE WAY AHEAD
|BISHOP DOEME SURROUNDED BY SOME OF HIS FLOCK|
Our Lord held out to him in His two hands a sword.....the Bishop reached out with his two hands to receive it and, as it came into his hands it was transformed into a rosary.Then Our Lord spoke, repeating three times "Boko Haram is gone". The Bishop has said that he plainly understood that the saying of the Rosary would be the weapon that will drive the evil of Boko Haram out of the Diocese, Accordingly, he has urged his people to pray the Rosary for that intention.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83KIv9tlC0Y
How brilliant an act of solidarity if we do the same on a continuing basis!
The recent Federal Elections in Nigeria gave the country a new President Muhammedu Buhari was swept to power in the election displacing President Goodluck Johnson. Many hold high hopes for significant change and that includes change in success against the Boko Haram insurgency. Late in the Presidential term of Goodluck Johnson, the Army had at long last begun to have significant success against Boko Haram, recovering some territories they had controlled. But in the early weeks of the Buhari regime,progress in this matter seems slow and the appointment of new Defence Chiefs seems likely to slow things down even more.
In fact just in recent weeks, Boko Haram has intensified its attacks on Maiduguri and nearby cities. So serious have these attacks been , that the Army has road-blocked the City from all but one of its approach routes.
Only yesterday reports began coming in concerning Boko Haram's brazen attack on the home town of the newly appointed Army Chief Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai. Last reports were sketchy but witnesses reported seeing many bodies and the family home of Buratai in flames. Upon his appointment Major General Buratai had said that he intended to wage war on Boko Haram.. They have boldly struck first.
OUR CATHOLIC FAMILY : OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Imagine your own Diocese or even State Government having to suddenly cope with and provide for thousands of orphans, thousands of widows, thousands of homeless, thousands of traumatised fellow citizens.
Well, it is time we remembered that spirit of brotherly love which characterised the first Catholics in the midst of the Roman Empire. Their love and concern for one another stunned their pagan fellow citizens. Here are our Catholic brothers and sisters in Maiduguri totally distressed and in need of the devoted love and assistance that we can provide - by prayer, especially the Rosary - and out of our abundance and peaceful plenty.
If you wish to come to their aid in a material sense, we hope to be able to advise soon how that might be done in the most direct manner possible Please do what you can.
But every one of us can pray - especially the Rosary which is God's "sword" in the struggle against Boko Haram which is the Devil's work.