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Religious crises in Nigeria- causes and solutions

Henry Odein Ajumogobia, Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister

The Religious crisis in Jos and other towns in Plateau State is of social and economic nature, Henry Odein Ajumogobia, Nigeria’s foreign minister has said.

Speaking to a delegation from the World Council of Churches recently, Ajumogobia said the situation in the central Plateau State, where several hundred people have been killed over the years, is “much more complicated” than it is usually portrayed, Odein argued.

According to him, the religious factor compounds a conflict between an indigenous population and an immigrant community in that area. “The issues are of social and economic nature”, he said.

Odein expressed his views at a meeting with the World Council of Churches (WCC) programme executive for Africa Dr Nigussu Legesse and the programme director of the Christian Council of Nigeria Rev. Babatunde Olusegun

The church representatives met the minister at his residence in Abuja on behalf of a WCC Living Letters team that had visited the country.

“We came here in solidarity with the people of Nigeria”, Legesse told Odein, explaining the purpose of the WCC Living Letters visit.

“We visited the villages near Jos, in the Plateau State. We were in Bukuru, where houses and markets were burnt and in Dogonahawa, where 323 people killed last March have been buried in a mass grave. We have met the survivors, talked to them, listened to them and prayed along with them and assured them that the global community of churches is with them in their moment of crisis”, Legesse said.

Legesse urged the minister to “help facilitate development in Jos through the federal government”. He pleaded that those responsible for the killings are brought before the court of law, “as the question of impunity was a concern widely mentioned by the people we met during our visits”.

Gbenga Osinaike, the publisher of the Church Times of Lagos, Nigeria, reported from Abuja.