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REX/Sipa Press
World News

Nigerian bishops demand cash for extremist damage

by Eno Adeogun

Speaking during a plenary session, Bishop Mathew Ndagaso, spokesman for the Catholic bishops of Kaduna Ecclesiastical province, said: "In the past six years, insurgents have attacked churches and other Christian places in the north, but the federal government is yet to compensate the victims.

"We want to inform you that the Catholic Church has not received any support from the federal government for the churches affected."

The bishop told attendees of the two-day Catholic bishops of Kaduna Ecclesiastical province plenary session in Minna, Niger State, that terrorist attacks on places of Christian worship within Kaduna state began in 2011, when St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla was attacked by members of Boko Haram.

According to local reports, Bishop Ndagaso claimed his own house had been destroyed and "no one has even sympathised" with them.

He urged the federal government to help fund the rebuilding of destroyed churches so the church could, in turn, assist with the development needs of the nation.

A 2016 report, produced by the charity Open Doors and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), showed a 62 per cent increase on attacks on Christians in northern Nigeria.

Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram - which has caused havoc in Africa's most populous country through a wave of bombings, assassinations and abductions - is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.

Over the past seven years, the Islamist terror group have killed up to 15,000 people - including many Christians.

Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, regardless of whether the president is Muslim or not - and it has extended its military campaign by targeting neighbouring states.

While Boko Haram is suffering military defeats in the country, Christian communities in north and central Nigeria continue to face widespread violence from Fulani militants.

Bishop Joseph Bagobiri of the Diocese of Kafanchan told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), last February that in the last three months of 2016, Fulani herdsmen burnt 53 villages, murdered 808 people, destroyed 1,422 houses and 16 churches.

Bishop Bagobiri also accused the government of not doing enough to stop the violence.

He said: "The attacks on Christians meet with seeming indifference on the part of the country's leadership - either the police do not have the appropriate weaponry to intervene, or else they have not been given orders to do so."

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