“We face social crisis and not religious conflicts”, Minister tells foreign envoys

Henry Odein Ajumogobia
Henry Odein Ajumogobia

New Nigeria Foreign Minister, Henry Odein Ajumogobia has disclaimed that Nigeria has embroiled in religious conflict adding that the whole concept of the recent killings in the Northern city of Jos and its environs had been misconceived.

According to the Minister the whole cocktail of blood shedding had been motivated by tribal conflicts and not religious problems as erroneously conveyed to the nation and the outside world.

He claimed it is far more than a religious conflict, but rather, it’s a inter -tribal standoffs.

Ajumogobia was exchanging views with the  World Council of Churches delegation which visited Abuja, the nation’s capital last week.

While the international community has “largely misunderstood” the violence as stemming from Christian-Muslim animosity, it is “much more complicated.”, explained the Minister.

He claimed an  that the conflict which had shaken security in the nation’s central Plateau State stemmed from a standoff  between an emigrating community and the host indigenous population.

A major crisis had enveloped the state capital of   Plateau State, Jos last March resulting in the death of  hundreds of people both young and old , men and women.

The Minister also attributed that social and economic reasons had paid an important part in the confrontation, claiming religious issue are far on the back stage of the conflicts.

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Members of the WCC Living Letters team visited Nigeria from May 15 to 20 this year on a special honour visit and were afforded the opportunity to visit the  troubled areas mostly villages around Jos, the Plateau State capital.

Signs of the recent visits were obvious as burnt  houses and  razed markets were visible as they travelled through the area.

More than  500 people were killed and those killed were mostly Christians.

The governor of Plateau State, Jonah David Jang who received the entourage  said the capital city Jos has seen one of the worst ethnic conflicts in recent years.

Jang, who is a committed Christian and a minister of the Church of Christ in Nigeria, has been the governor of Plateau State for the past four years.

During the visit, the Living Letters team visited a mass grave in Dogonahawa village where about 323 locals murdered last March are buried.

They also met a 60-year-old woman, Kumbo Chuwang, who was maimed in the violence, and a teenage boy, Tebita Danjuma, whose body was burned by the fire engulfing the building he was staying.

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, chairman of the Plateau State division of the Christian Association of Nigeria, confirmed that  the conflict had nothing to do with Muslims and  Christians.

Nigeria Map. spot of unrest
Nigeria Map. spot of unrest

“It is not that the community was fighting about religion, but some people who were involved in the fighting are well adhered to a religions faith” Kaigama said. “There is no real war between the two faiths.”

The WCC implored Nigerian government to invest more to develop Plateau State and urged on the need to prosecute the criminals  responsible for the violence.

“We have met the survivors, spoke  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,” said WCC program executive for Africa Dr. Nigussu Legesse. While speaking to Foreign Minister  Ajumogobia  on May 21.

Legesse urged the Nigerian minister of foreign affairs to help develop Jos through the federal government, urging that the nation should embark more on provision  of social amenities