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

Surely one of the great success stories of Catholic evangelisation activity in Africa, the Diocese of Maiduguri was carved out of the original Apostolic Prefecture of Jos in nearby Plateau State. Maiduguri was set up as an Apostolic Prefecture  in 1953 and then in 1966 it was erected as a Diocese in its own right, Suffragan of the Archdiocese of Jos.

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.


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."



Here is an account of the present situation given by the Vicar General of the Diocese Father Gideon Obasogie :

"What is known as the circumscription of Maiduguri diocese has gone through untold hardship and pains. Our people are been massacred daily. Traveling from one part of the diocese to another has become dangerous as it is deadly. From Maiduguri which houses the Episcopal Throne – the head quarter of the diocese to the Adamawa part of the diocese which before now takes just three hours now lasts about fifteen hours by road.
Traveling for hours is not our major plight but the danger on the way has recently become a constant threat. We now have to travel through Damaturu in Yobe state, Gombe state and Yola before making it to Mubi axis of the Catholic diocese of Maiduguri.
Commuting along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway was halted again for the fourth ‎time in a week, as security operatives battle to prevent travelers from driving into an ambush by the blood-thirsty insurgents. I passed through this road to Maiduguri from Jos on Wednesday 15/7/2015. A lot of cars were intercepted and burnt down. A good number of the residents of most villages along the Maiduguri – Damaturu highway had fled their communities for fear of further attacks. The rate of the Boko Haram attacks in the past few weeks have become worrisome and dangerous. This remains the only route linking Maiduguri city with the other parts of the world. One can only imagine what it would look like, if the terrorists succeed in cutting us off from the other part of Nigeria. Boko Haram has in the last one year bombed all major bridges on ‎four of the five highways linking the rest of the world with Maiduguri. The group has also planted landmines on the roads, killing several travelers.

The only surviving road

Maiduguri now hosts over a million internally displaced persons, and now relies only on the Kano-Damaturu-Maiduguri highway for access. But with the incessant onslaught on the highway by the Boko Haram terrorists, there are fears by residents that even the only relatively safe route might be taken by the terrorists.
We hope that soldiers would be deployed to Benisheik town, 85 kilometers from Maiduguri, to specifically guard the major bridge along ‎the highway; for fear that the terrorists might be plotting to attack the bridge. If that happens, ‎we are doomed in Maiduguri, because that is the only surviving road that thousands of travelers ply daily.
Two days after the attack on Mainok town in Borno state, which left over 30 persons dead and most part of the village burnt, Boko Haram terrorists on Wednesday returned to attack villagers returning to count their losses. Mainok is a town located about 65kilometres from Maiduguri, in Kaga local government area of Borno state. The attack lasted about five hours as the gunmen took their time to ensure that no single edifice in the village was left untouched, even as more than 30 villagers and travelers were said to have been killed during the attack.


Damaturu-Maiduguri highway is becoming a dead zone

Sources said more than a hundred Boko Haram terrorists had, at about 5:30pm, stormed Mainok town and opened fire on civilians, killing at least 40 helpless civilians. More than 30 vehicles that were trapped near the village were also burnt as well as hundreds of homes.
Warsala, a village located on the boundary between Borno and Yobe states, in northeast Nigeria, was the latest community along the Kano-Maiduguri highway that is being attacked by Boko Haram extremists. The attack took place at about 8pm when the gunmen arrived in Warsala shooting sporadically and killing innocent citizens freely.
The agrarian community is not more than 5km from Ngamdu, another village along the highway that buried 10 persons killed by Boko Haram terrorists on Friday night. Travelers along the route on Wednesday drove through villages practically deserted, as they sighted some smoking trailer trucks and many cars abandoned by the road side. Some spots were stranded villagers fleeing the dead zone. A group of travelers along this same route were attacked, and many killed in Ngamdu village about 2 kilometers away from Warsala, which is a village under Yobe state.
The rampaging Boko Haram terrorists have forced the village to start fleeing their homes en mass. People numbering over 3,000 were seen trekking, some were conveyed in trucks and available vehicles. The Damaturu-Maiduguri highway is becoming a dead zone; this is the fourth attack this week from Monday. We pray intensive patrol measures be launched to stop this massacre.
We still have a good number of helpless citizens/ Catholics and priests who must ply this highway daily….your prayers and constant intercession to Our Blessed Lady the Queen of the highway is best needed now than ever."


Several times since the mid-1960s Maiduguri has experienced outbreaks of Mohammedan violence against the Catholic and other Christian minorities. Mohammedan supremacists in the region have repeatedly resorted to mass murder. In 2006 , in the wake of the Danish publication of cartoons of Mohammed, massive Mohammedan riots resulted in the death of 15 people in the region and the destruction  of 12 churches. The Army and the Police together succeeded in suppressing the riots and the Government imposed a curfew.

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.


In this dramatic situation there are very many true refugees. In fact identifying them is not difficult, because no less than 36,000 of them from Maiduguri Diocese have fled across the Border to Cameroon where they are confined in a Refugee Camp , established by the UNHCR  in the Diocese of Maroua Cameroon. Earlier this year the 36,000 refugees received a visit headed by the remarkable Bishop Lucius Ugorji of Umuahia Diocese accompanied by Maiduguri's Bishop Dashe Doeme to offer the refugees comfort and pastoral care from their own churches in Nigeria.They responded warmly to the Bishops' Blessings and to the assurance of concern from home.


In a truly remarkable intervention Our Divine Lord Himself has appeared to Bishop Doeme as he prayed before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in his chapel.

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.

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.


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.


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