Document date: 11.03.2010
Letter of concern over renewed violence in northern Nigeria

To His Excellency Mr Goodluck Jonathan
Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria  

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I am writing to you to express our deep concerns regarding the recent violence and killings in three villages close to the northern city of Jos. This violence that broke out last weekend claiming many lives is an appalling situation.

Your Excellency, the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of member churches from around the world including Nigeria, has been closely observing the deteriorating situation in Jos with great distress. We have learned that survivors of the recent massacres near Jos denounced the inaction of the authorities, and particularly the army, for their failure to prevent the violence. Seemingly it took the army two hours to react from the time a distress call was put through, which is unacceptable under any circumstances. Furthermore, we heard the news that the eruption of violence in Jos appears to have been carried out in retaliation for the attacks that took place on 19 January 2010 at Kuru Karama.

The ongoing conflicts and violence in several parts of Nigeria demonstrate that these unfortunate events are exacerbated due to various factors such as economic disparities, under-development, ethnic rivalries and struggle to control political power. It is also known that Nigeria's system of constitutionally classifying its citizens as "indigenes" and "settlers" further intensifies competing interests and conflicts.  It is unfortunate that these constitutional flaws increase the violations of human rights and denial of justice and equity to all citizens of Nigeria irrespective of their religious and ethnic identities. This can lead to deepening ethnic and religious conflicts and as a result, the Nigerians tend to lose their sense of belonging and their spirit of communal harmony which allows them to live in peace.

It is in this context that we urge Your Excellency to bring to justice the perpetrators of these massacres and request that immediate action be taken to ensure  the protection  and security of every individual in Nigeria. As the violence and human rights violations are systematically orchestrated, innocent human beings are ultimately becoming the victims of these conflicts which result in the deaths of hundreds of people every time. We, therefore, urge your immediate intervention to stop conflict, violence and human rights violations which affect Nigerian society all too frequently. As we fear that this deteriorating situation will ultimately enflame religious conflicts especially in the context that religion is being used for political and economic power struggles, we appeal to all people of goodwill to prevent such an eventuality.

It is our sincere hope that your government will take immediate measures to ensure security and peace with justice for all Nigerians. As members of churches who are committed to peace and justice of all God’s creation, we pray that peace and reconciliation will prevail among all people and communities in your country.  

Respectfully yours,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary