A senior Nigerian cleric has accused the Fulani and Kanuri ethnic nationalities of being behind the jihadist group, Boko Haram, which has killed more than 13,000 Nigerians in five years.
Speaking Sunday at a church service as part of activities to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the National Ecumenical Centre in Abuja, the prelate of Methodist Church of Nigeria, Samuel Uche, said Fulani and Kanuri have engineered the Boko Haram insurgency to seize power.
The comments came amid rising tension and fears over violence as Nigeria prepares for general elections about a month away.
In the last one week, there have been political clashes in Rivers, Plateau and Gombe States where party supporters have been attacked, a party office bombed and campaign buses torched.
Mr. Uche said soldiers prosecuting the war against Boko Haram informed him and other bishops that except for some collaborators from Chad, Libya and Somalia, 95 per cent of those waging the war against Nigeria were Fulani and Kanuri, Daily Trust newspaper reported.
The cleric made the remark at an event attended by President Goodluck Jonathan, the Senate President, David Mark, the military top brass and other important personalities. None of the senior government officials commented.
He said those behind the Boko Haram insurgency were doing so in other to put the government of Mr. Jonathan in bad light.
“Let me reveal to you this evening and at this important service at this juncture that some of our soldiers, because you know we Bishops have impact in the society, we relate with soldiers and all manner of people. And some of the people in warfront have confided in us that apart from some mercenaries from Chad, Libya as well as Somalia, 95 percent of those fighting our country are of Fulani and Kanuri origin.
“They’re aggrieved because they want power at all costs. They believe Nigeria belongs to them alone and that they’re born to rule while others follow. It is deceit,” he said.
President Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have repeatedly accused the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, of being behind Boko Haram.
The archbishop also said those sabotaging the war against terrorism “are within the political elites, some are within the armed forces and other institutions.”
The cleric said beyond taking power, those sponsoring the insurgency also seek to Islamise Nigeria and create another caliphate different from the Sokoto Caliphate.
He said the mission will fail because it is impossible to Islamise Nigeria.
“These disgruntled country men and women and have made themselves enemies of Nigeria. These people sabotage every effort of government to bring peace in the north-east of Nigeria.
“Some shameless individuals and groups make such utterances and use grievous situations as a tool for politicking, blaming the government in power as doing nothing to solve the problem of insurgency. Who is deceiving who?
“I believe Nigerians are wiser and our people know that it’s sabotage that’s making it impossible for our Armed Forces to recover the Chibok girls,” he said.
APC leaders should be committed to prison
Archbishop Uche also called for the arrest and prosecution of the leaders of APC over their threats to form a parallel government.
The APC has threatened to form a parallel government if the presidential election slated for February 14 is rigged.
Mr. Uche said such calls amount to treason. “They should be in prison because they are committing treason,” he said.
He also asked the armed forces to beam their searchlight on the party’s presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.
“Any presidential aspirant that misbehaves should be imprisoned for at least 12 years,” he said.
The cleric urged the military to persevere in their efforts to restore peace to the country.
“Let me appreciate the Armed Forces. Whenever you hear that people have been killed, there is this temptation to say they’re not doing anything. Yes, we know there are some black legs within the Armed Forces, no doubt about that. Some have been caught, some are being prosecuted,” he said.