Insecurity Widespread in Nigeria

Fides Talks with Archbishop of Lagos

Insecurity Widespread
© Fides

“Insecurity is now a widespread phenomenon in our country: kidnappings take place directly in homes as well as in churches, or in mosques, everywhere; bandits attack villages and kill, rob, loot, and kidnap. It is a very serious matter to which, of course, petty crimes are added. It is a scenario that generates great concern”.

As explained to Agenzia Fides, there are many reasons that led the Archbishop of Lagos, Nigeria, Alfred Adewale Martins, to ask the Nigerian authorities for a state of emergency throughout the country. “By a state of emergency – he explains – I mean that the government must pay much more attention than before to the security agencies which must have all the tools and resources they need. Only in this way, we will return to a situation under control and the women and men who work in the country’s police forces will feel motivated and safe with their families. We have had situations where agents did not have adequate means and weapons to pursue criminals and guarantee the protection for the people. There are very demoralized police officers who need to be more motivated. If this aspect is adequately addressed, insecurity will be reduced”.

Added to the serious crimes committed throughout the country that are plunging Nigeria into a state of anarchy, is the presence of Boko Haram, especially in the north, which continues to terrorize the population. Archbishop Martins notes: “Boko Haram is known for the continuous massacres, killings, and the terror it spreads. The first consequence of this is mass migration. The terrorists are mostly in the North, but their criminal operations have an effect across the country. The number of people who flee from the northern areas to other States is enormous and, they aggravate the situation in areas that already have problems, all this generates consequences in the daily lives of the people, the tensions are always many”. “It is necessary to point out – continues the Prelate – how much the level of insecurity of the citizens has increased. We are also concerned about what will happen in the next national elections in 2023. This is also why we believe that the best solution would be to refer more to the federal character of Nigeria’s political history.

We would like to see a federal republic in which we could have more authority in the relevant areas. For us the federal character is by no means divisive but unifying, the restructuring of the nation is one of the things that is dearest to us. Many Nigerians hope that federal unity will be strengthened and that States will have more authority and directly dispose of resources without necessarily waiting for the intervention of Abuja”. The Archbishop’s appeal to declare a state of emergency caused a lot of noise in the country and forced the government to pay attention to the requests of the ecclesiastical hierarchies that reflect the feelings of the population. “Normally – he concludes – we launch our appeals publicly and we know that the government is very attentive to what we say. I do not know if what is requested will have a direct effect on political decisions, certainly what we are asking for is for the common good and not for particular interest. Our voice is raised to generate awareness and reiterate that there are many people who live this period dramatically. I would like to highlight, in all this, the positive and resilient character of my people: we have high hopes of overcoming the problems also this time.”