Religious persecution, killings could destroy Nigeria, Jonathan warns

One of the destroyed Churches

One of the destroyed Churches

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has warned that Nigeria could be destroyed if authorities refused to address religious persecution and killings.

Jonathan told the US Congress House Sub-Committee on Africa on Wednesday that the killing of Christians in Southern Kaduna could be attributed to the inability of government to apprehend and punish culprits of past religious violence.

A statement by his media aide, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, said, “As part of efforts of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation to fulfill its mission to promote peace and prosperity in Nigeria and Africa, former President Goodluck Jonathan met with the US Congress House Sub-Committee on Africa on the challenges facing Christians in Nigeria and the Niger Delta issue.

“The former President, who was invited by the US Congress sub-committee and spoke in his capacity as Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, said that implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference is the panacea that will prevent ethnic and religious tensions that lead to crises such as the recent Southern Kaduna killings.

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“He also identified impunity as a factor that contributes to the reoccurrence of such violence, noting that if those behind previous violence were not prosecuted then likeminded individuals and groups would be emboldened to repeat the same act.

“Dr. Jonathan talked about his efforts to end impunity, specifically citing the case of Kabiru Sokoto, the mastermind of the Christmas Day bombing of Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger state who was arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned by his administration and was the first successful prosecution of a terrorist attack on a place of worship in Nigeria’s history.

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“He said: ‘That promise was fulfilled on the 20th of December 2013 when Kabiru Umar, aka Kabiru Sokoto, was sentenced to life imprisonment after my administration investigated that crime, identified him as the mastermind, arrested him and diligently prosecuted him and some of his associates.’

“The former President also noted that his administration’s prosecution of the perpetrators of the deadly bombing of an office of the Independent National Electoral Commission also in Madalla on April 8, 2011 was the first successful prosecution of terrorists in Nigeria.

“While supporting the 2014 National Conference’s recommendation for an independent Religious Equity Commission to be set up to apprehend and arrest perpetrators of ethnic and religious violence, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan maintained that ending impunity will also mean ending these tensions.

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“On the Niger Delta, the former President said he fully aligned with the views of the 2014 National Conference which called for True and Fiscal Federalism as the way out of agitations in the region and in other parts of Nigeria. “He also said that interventionist agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission tend not to be effective due to over politicization.

“The former President opined that the almost overnight development of a state like Akwa-Ibom proved that what the region needed was resource control not interventionist agencies.

“The meeting was attended by Chairman of the U.S. House Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, Congressman Christopher H Smith and other influential staff of the Committee.”



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