The Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria on Thursday raised the alarm that Boko Haram’s plan is to completely eliminate Christians and Islamise the country.
The President of the Catholic Conference on Nigeria, Bishop Ignatius Kaigama, made the allegation after leading other Bishops to a closed doors meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, Kaigama said: “While we admit that some Muslims are also targeted, we want to believe that the principal aim and concern of Boko Haram is to eliminate Christianity and pave the way for total Islamisation of the country.”
The Catholic Bishop’s president noted that Christians had suffered more from the sect’s attacks even though Muslims have also been victims.
He said: “It is not new.
“The Boko Haram agenda is very clear.
“They want to destroy what is not according to them authentic Islam and the Christians fall into that category and so we are the major target.
“Just like the government is a target, the Christians are a major target.
“Other Nigerians are also targets, but we suffer more.
“For instance, the Bishop of Maidugiri will tell you how many of his parishes have all been destroyed.
“His minor seminary, his convent and clinics where sisters work, have all been destroyed.
“Then the priests are on the run.
“Reverend sisters have all abandoned their homes.
“They are all on the run”.
On the meeting with Jonathan, Kaigama said it focused on insurgency in the North, especially as it affects the distribution of relief materials to the Internally Displaced Persons.
He said the bishops complained to the President about the shoddy handling of displaced people by the National Emergency Management Agency.
Accoirding to him, the Bishops also told President Jonathan that the Catholic Church in Nigeria had a lot of experience and expertise in handling displaced people and sharing relief materials.
He therefore, stressed the need for the Federal Government to collaborate with them so that victims of insurgency could be looked after.
Kaigama spoke further: “We are here on behalf of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria.
“We came not to wish him a bad day but to talk about our nation.
“We had some concerns about the situation of security in the nation as well as political developments.
“So in general terms, we shared with him in a conversation and discussion.
“We just wanted to remind him of things he already knows.
“There was nothing we said that was new.
“We just wanted to lay emphasis and we wanted him to know we are concerned.
“The President is already doing his bit.
“He has assured us that he is on top of the situation.
“They are reviewing strategies and all that and by the grace of God this terrorism that we are witnessing will soon be a thing of the past.
“This is the assurance we are coming away with.
“We feel that things are not right.
“Territorially, our land is being taken away, the people we look after are displaced, their homes, their villages, towns are captured and they are internally displaced being refugees in their own land.
“We thought this is not right.
“We have families that are just stranded.
“We thought that the President should know.
“As Catholics, we have laid a good structure for relief and taking care of such situation.
“We want the government to collaborate with us.
“We have what we call the Catholic Peace and Justice, Commission.
“We respond when there is an emergency.
“We know how to technically do registration of displaced people.
“The little funds we gather we buy clothings and materials and are able to reach out very effectively, you would almost say scientifically, because every victim gets something.
“So, we are telling government that we are aware of the wonderful effort they do, the relief they give through NEMA and other agencies.
“The effectiveness of the distribution is our concern.
“We are here with long years of experience.
“As Catholic Church, we don’t discriminate.
“In fact, 90 per cent of the people we give relief to are not christians or even Catholics.
“So we should be brought on board.
“We should combine the skill of registering adequately displaced people and then knowing the right approach to give them relief so that they can feel the impact.
“What is being done now is not effective and that is the truth.”
Also on the delegation were the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah, and John Cardinal Onaiyekan.