January 24, 2023

The killing of Rev Father Isaac Achi

ON Sunday, January 15, 2023, at about 3 am, armed Islamic terrorists in a renewed attack on Christians, invaded the Parish residence of Reverend Father Isaac Achi of SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, along Daza Road, Kafin-Koro, Paikoro Local Government Area, LGA, of Niger State.

The killers set Rev. Achi’s house ablaze, burning him to death. They also shot at Rev. Father Collins, Achi’s colleague, as he was trying to escape from the house.

On that same Sunday, Islamic fundamentalists riding on motorcycles invaded the New Life for All Church in the Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State, kidnapping about 25 worshippers. It was from the same Kankara Local Government Area that over 300 pupils were abducted from a secondary school on December 11, 2020.

If Christianity sanctions vengeance, Nigeria would have long been engulfed in a deadly religious war. 

The statistics are alarming. In 2021, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law reported that an estimated 43,000 Christians were killed in 12 years (2009-2021) by Islamic radicals in Nigeria.

Within the same period, about 10 million people were displaced in the North. Also 29,000 Muslims were killed, and 2,000 Christian schools lost. The Muslims, according to the report, were killed as punishment for their associations with Christians whom the Jihadists regard as ‘unbelievers’. The group also pointed out that when the Jihadists abduct Muslims alongside Christians, the Muslims, in most cases, are released unlike their Christian counterparts who are “most unlikely to return alive”. A good example is the abduction of 276 Chibok girls in April 2014.

Sadly, till today, none of those responsible for these atrocities have been arrested or prosecuted, which further emboldens and encourages them to carry out fresh attacks. Moreover, surviving victims and families of the dead victims are also abandoned by the government. The group observed that security forces “hardly intervene when vulnerable Christians are in danger, but only emerge after such attacks to arrest and frame up the same population threatened or attacked”.

For instance, last week, the Niger State Police Command was swift to hunt down and arrest 33 persons, 19 of whom they claimed were involved in the burning down of Kafin-Koro Police Station in protest over the killing of Rev. Father Achi. But so far, no single suspect has been arrested for the murder of the Catholic Priest.

Although the Federal Government continues to deny that there is no war against Christians in Nigeria, the facts on ground do not support such claim. The Federal Government and the security agencies have the responsibility to stop the killing of Christians and other innocent Nigerians.

If the aim of these killings is to uproot the Christian religion from Northern Nigeria, it is a misguided one and ultimately unrealisable. Christianity and Islam have come to exist side-by-side in Nigeria, and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

So, the sooner we learn to live together in peace and equity, and stop these needless bloodsheds, the better for all of us.