An embattled Catholic diocese in southeastern Nigeria facing a mounting wave of violent attacks from Islamic militias has declared “enough is enough,” demanding that “bad” members of the largely Muslim Fulani tribe be “flushed out” of the area and that local self-protection groups be armed to provide their own security.
Bishop Callistus Onaga of Enugu released the statement Sunday in conjunction with a Mass “for peace and security” following the murder of Father Paul Offu last week, with most Catholics holding Fulani herders responsible even though a professional association largely composed of Fulani members has denied that they were involved.
Offu was the third Catholic priest murdered in the area over the past five months.
The statement released Sunday, which was titled “Enough is Enough,” asserted that such violence has created “a state of anarchy [and a] total breakdown of law and order.”
“The rate of kidnappings has continued to increase, both in the villages and in the cities,” it said. “The demand for outrageous ransoms, and the inability of the victims to pay, have led to outright killings.”
Conflict between herders and farmers in Nigeria over land use is nothing new, and usually takes on a sectarian division since the herders are mostly Muslim and the farmers mostly Christian. Yet since early 2018 the level of violence has intensified, and now claims more lives than the terrorist group Boko Haram.
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