THE Nigerian government deliberately blamed the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) for last month’s terror attack on St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, in a bid to shield networks of politically powerful herdsmen believed to be behind the incident, according to a report by Knoxville News Sentinel.
“Nigerian officials blamed the St. Francis attack on the Islamic State West Africa Province, which has ties to the terrorist group Boko Haram, while avoiding references to networks of politically powerful Fulani herdsmen,” the report said.
- Owo attack: Akeredolu directs compulsory installations of CCTVs in all public, private institutions
- Amotekun announces arrest of suspected masterminds of Owo massacre
- Two weeks after Owo killings, gunmen attack two churches in Kaduna
- Owo massacre: Names, photos of victims released as church conducts mass burial
- Anguish, horror, pain: INSIDE STORY of Owo Catholic Church shootings
A senior fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington DC, Stephen Rasche, said in the report that Nigerian Christians no longer trust their own government or the leaders of the United States and the European Union to speak against the killings targeted at them.
The ICIR had reported how gunmen invaded and killed more than 38 people, including women and children and left more than 50 persons with various degrees of gunshot injuries during the attack on the church on June 5.
The incident attracted global condemnation with the Catholic Church calling for the arrest of the perpetrators.
Rasche noted that the government has not taken action to check attacks on Christians by herdsmen and terrorists groups across the country.
“These types of murders are taking place weekly, almost daily, in Nigeria — murders of innocent Christians, being gunned down, slaughtered indiscriminately, throughout the north and, increasingly, into the central part of Nigeria and into the south,” he said.
On how the Nigerian Christians are reacting, he said many of them simply “throw up their hands,” because they no longer trust their own government or the leaders of the US and the EU.
“They don’t look at us as being serious about any of these things,” he said.
“They are completely disillusioned that the US government is going to have any kind of effective role to play. They’ve just given up that anybody in the West is going to come to their aid,” he added.
The ICIR reported that the Federal Government on June 9 said ISWAP was responsible for the June 5 attack.
Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola announced that the terror group was behind the attack while briefing journalists after a meeting of the National Security Council at the State House in Abuja.