Tension is mounting in Nigeria after four people were killed near a mosque in Kogi State, providing a new twist in a national conflict that so far had exclusively targeted Christians.
According to reports, the attack on the Muslim prayer building occurred at the Central Mosque in Okene, when armed gunmen came out of a van chanting Islamic songs before shooting at people standing outside, killing two soldiers in the process.
The incident came the same week that 25 Christians were shot dead by gunmen using AK-47s in Okene in Kogi state near the capital of Abuja.
While police have yet to determine who carried out both attacks and if they were related, the Islamic radical group Boko Haram has strongly been linked with the Christian attack. The group has been targeting churches and believers for a year, killing over 600 people in their self-stated mission to get rid of Christianity in Nigeria.
The mosque attack remains a mystery, however, as it is not clear if or why Boko Haram would this time chose to target Muslims – or if it is in any way a retaliation attack in response to the growing tensions between Christians and Muslims. Whatever the reason and motives, however, church leaders in Nigeria are pleading with citizens not to allow the country to descend into total chaos by turning on each other.
“At the rate we are going, the country is drifting fast into anarchy,” Anglican Primate, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, said. He added that the government, led by President Goodluck Jonathan, needs to do more to protect its people.
“If dog eats dog, that is the end of the country,” Okoh continued. He added that the attacks against innocent people were a “damnable thing; it is evil.”
“Those killing innocent people are heartless people who are not fearing their God. The incessant attacks are condemnable, it’s against the teaching of any religion, so those who are doing this act are criminals who will face God hereafter,” Sheikh Ahmed Gummi, an Islamic scholar in northern Kaduna has also said.
“There is not any religion in the world that accepts killing of innocent people at their worshipping centers,” remarked Tunde Ishaku, a senior member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). “We have to be serious now to take urgent action for the sake of our life and that of our followers.”
Church leaders have asked the government to spare no resources in increasing security at churches.
Hope rises for Okigwe-Owerri road users
The President of the Pan African Parliament and Member representing Mbaitoli/ Ikeduru Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Bethel Amadi has assured the public that repair work will soon begin on the failed section of the Owerri – Okigwe Highway at Ekemele, Akabor in Ikeduru LGA.
Hon. Bethel Amadi who is also the House Committee Chairman on National Planning and Economic Development, gave the assurance after a closed-door meeting with the top management of Federal Emergency Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) led by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Engr. Jide, the Managing Director, Engr. Amuchi and the Executive Director (Operations), Engr. Ikpowen at the headquarters of the FERMA on August 9, 2012.
The FERMA Board Chairman, Engr. Jide reassured Hon. Bethel Amadi of the commitment of his Agency to rehabilitate the Ekemele section and other damaged spots on the highway, promising that FERMA will carry out a comprehensive repair of that portion to avoid future flooding.