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Archbishop of Canterbury offers to contribute to peace negotiations in violence-hit Nigeria

Posted on: March 27, 2018 8:29 AM
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby meeting the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, in March 2017.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has today repeated his offer to contribute towards any peace negotiations while violence continues to erupt in some parts of Nigeria.

Archbishop Justin tweeted in January: “I am deeply saddened by the killings and displacements in #Nigeria. President @MBuhari and authorities are exhorted to act now to end this violence and begin mediated dialogue. I mourn with this great country and stand with them in prayer, #prayforthepeaceofNigeria.”

However, the attacks have continued and spread rather than abate. A question was put to the British government in the House of Lords – the upper house of the UK Parliament – yesterday (Monday) on the deteriorating security situation in Nigeria.

Archbishop Justin said: “I once again exhort President Muhammadu Buhari and other authorities, civil and religious, national and international, urgently to build a coalition to end this violence immediately.

“In communications earlier this year with the Primate of All Nigeria, His Grace Nicholas Okoh, I offered to contribute towards such effort to the extent such might be useful. I repeat that offer again, knowing, however, that within Nigeria are all the skills needed for resolution of the suffering of the people.

“My condolences go to those who have lost loved ones and property. I urge the authorities to seek for ways to ameliorate their sufferings and losses. I call on all people of goodwill to continue to pray for the peace of Nigeria.”

Since the start of this year, some 175,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Nigeria’s Benue State and are now living in refugee camps – including more than 80,000 children. The root cause is a conflict between nomadic herdsmen who graze cattle over vast areas; and farmers who wish to cultivate land for crops. Five people were killed over the weekend in clashes near the Agatu local government area, the AFP news agency reports.

The Council on Foreign Relations, an international think-tank based in New York, reported that 63 people were killed in eight separate incidents in the week leading up to 23 March.

In January, the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria called on the government “as a matter of urgency to address these ugly trends and ensure that the culprits are brought to justice.”