Nigeria Fast Becoming a Hostile Killing Field, Catholic Bishops in Ibadan Province Say

The bishops also weighed in on the beginning of the preparations for the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year.

Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province in Nigeria.
Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province in Nigeria. (photo: Bishop Emmanuel Badejo)

Catholic bishops in Nigeria’s Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province (IEP) are alarmed by the recurrent and “pervasive” security challenges in the West African nation, which they compare to a battlefield characterized with hostility and killing.

In a Tuesday, Feb. 6, communiqué following a two-day meeting, the Catholic Church leaders at the helm of the Ibadan Archdiocese and the Dioceses of Ekiti, Ilorin, Ondo, Osogbo, and Oyo said: “All is not well, and positive change is needed.”

“Our dear country Nigeria is fast becoming a hostile killing field. The ship of the nation is foundering under the weight of pervasive insecurity, economic hardship due to hyperinflation, and the collapse of the naira [Nigeria’s currency], cybercrime, high cost of food, lackadaisical governance, and widespread corruption,” the bishops said in their statement.

Life in Nigeria, they lamented, “is fast becoming an ordeal for millions of Nigerians because pervasive poverty, driven by the harsh environment, has driven many to desperation and even suicide.”

The Church leaders called it “nothing short of hypocritical” to blame what the Nigerians suffer today on changes in the world economy. “The truth is that often Nigerians are simply left to their own devices and left at the mercy of the most cruel and aggressive criminals by inept and selfish political and civil leaders,” they said. “In all this, governments often seem weak or altogether absent.”

Furthermore, they said, “any remedy now is even already too late for many Nigerians who have lost their lives to terrorists, hunger, kidnapping, and sundry disasters.” 

They called on leaders “who talk and behave as if all is well to have a change of heart.” 

“There is cause for alarm when corruption runs riot in every sector with scant effort from the government to arrest and prosecute its perpetrators,” the bishops said, adding that “things are not under control when continuously Nigerians get maimed, kidnapped, and killed daily on our roads and even in their homes.”

They called on elected officials “not to make excuses about problems but to change things for the better,” saying: “Away with insensitive aides who furnish the public with lies and innuendos in order [to] mitigate government failure in the face of the recurring disasters.” 

Appealing for urgent action “to save the Nigeria ship from sinking,” the bishops lamented that “much-vaunted renewed hope is turning to utter desperation in many places and there is not much time left.”

They called on the government to “promote productivity, accountability, and essential infrastructure like power supply and jobs” and decried the increase in “suicide and murders … in recent times, which demonstrates that the value placed on the sanctity of human life is diminishing. This is a recipe for disaster.”

“We reiterate the sanctity and dignity of human life and we call on relevant authorities and religious organizations to promote the preservation of Christian marriage and family values,” they said.

The bishops also weighed in on the beginning of the preparations for the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year, which Pope Francis announced on Jan. 21, the second in his pontificate after the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2015.

In his Angelus address from the window of the Apostolic Palace on Jan. 21, the Holy Father said that the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year is to be “a year dedicated to rediscovering the great value and absolute need for prayer in one’s personal life, in the life of the Church, and in the world.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, the coming months will lead us to the opening of the Holy Door, with which we will begin the jubilee,” Pope Francis said. “I ask you to intensify your prayer to prepare us to live this event of grace well and to experience the power of God’s hope. That is why today we begin a year of prayer.”

In their collective statement shared with ACI Africa, the Catholic bishops in IEP called for “more intense prayer for Nigeria as the Holy Father Pope Francis has declared a jubilee of prayer, which has begun.”

“Let us pray for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, queen of peace and hope, that our dear country may reap the fruits of hope in God and experience abiding peace, which will usher in a better future for all and sundry,” they implored.

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