One major issue that arose for discussion among several Nigerian Christian internet groups is the question of what should constitute appropriate response to intelligence reports about planned Islamic violence – given that there was abundance intelligence report that the Boko Haram uprising was brewing? Of truth, hardly any of the murderous actions of the Jihadists over the years happened without prior intelligence warnings. In fact this is the central issue in the protest letter organized by the Washington DC based International Christian Concerns (firstname.lastname@example.org) to the Nigerian government (Sept 18): that the Nigerian government has failed repeatedly to take basic reasonable proactive actions to protect Christian lives in Northern Nigeria.
According to the ICC, “Since the introduction of Sharia law in northern Nigeria in 1999, religious violence has resulted in the death of 12,000 Nigerians…… The violence and the resulting wanton destruction of lives and property are avoidable. Nigerian security officials have repeatedly failed to take preventive measures before such attacks occur. Also, Nigerian officials repeatedly fail to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice.”
The ICC summarized the petition by citing the 2009 Annual Report by the United States Commission for International Freedom,: “The response of the government of Nigeria to persistent religious freedom violations and violent sectarian and communal conflicts along religious lines has been inadequate and ineffectual. Years of inaction by Nigeria‘s federal, state and local governments has created a climate of impunity, resulting in thousands of deaths.”
But the issue of contention among Nigerian internet discussion groups however is, could Nigerian Christians not have themselves taken more actions – other than prayers – in the face of warnings of imminent Islamic-inspired bloodbaths? Suggestions ranged from at least effectively disseminating such intelligence data from Church pulpits so that most people are no longer caught unawares, to actually forming Christian militias. CA! thinks however, that the answer lies between these two options. As demonstrated several times in the life of Apostle Paul, early Christians made effective use of intelligence information, not only taking actions that frustrated enemies counsel (e.g. Acts 9:23-25; 14:6; 17:10,14; ) but also by wisely engaging state machinery and authority figures in ways that could not be ignored (e.g. Acts 23:16ff). As for individuals, the PFN is still sticking, perhaps more emphatically, to the position it announced in 2002 (see CA! Vol 5 No 1). Speaking in the wake of the Boko Haram incident, PFN National Secretary, Pastor Wale Adefarasin suggested: "It has been said by Mr. President that everyone has the right to defend himself. Anybody whose life is threatened should defend himself."
And while on the subject, latest reports (surprising as it may be) is that Jihadist elements are again making plans to foment new trouble - this time, in Cross Rivers State, well in Southern Nigeria. According to Tayo Babalobi <lampstandletters@ yahoo.com>, at a meeting of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria PFN Calabar, on September 9, it was reported that two lorry loads of arms and ammunition were sighted at the Hausa quarters of the town. This was in addition to an earlier noticed influx of 12 lorry loads of “Hausas” to augment over 500 Nigeriens (from Niger Republic) who operate mainly as motorcycle riders in Calabar. The build-up, it is reported, has been on-going since the beginning of the year and could be in preparation towards a Jihad attack in the town.
So, back to the crux of this article: in the face of such information as this, what next?