THE BLOG

Nigerians Must Raise Their Voices Against Violence

09/07/2014 11:32 BST | Updated 07/09/2014 10:59 BST

Last Sunday, several villages only a few miles away from the town of Chibok, Borno State - whose hundreds of missing schoolgirls have made international headlines - were savagely attacked by Boko Haram. At least 40 innocent residents were massacred, some as they tried to attend their Sunday morning church services.

When the insurgents laid siege to the village of Kwada, they burned all four churches in the village - guaranteeing any remaining local residents were denied the freedom to practice the religion of their choosing.

The attacks rightly drew condemnation from across Nigeria, including many Islamic scholars and organisations, such as Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC).

Kwada, like Chibok before it, was targeted because it was home to a significant Christian population. But these acts of barbarism are not alone.

As Chairman of the Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF), I heard many similar stories from our members at our Annual Conference in Abuja last week.

In Waga Chakawa, Adamawa State, 22 perished when insurgents attacked St. Paul's Roman Catholic church, and in Barderi, Borno State, 45 were slaughtered when Boko Haram attacked the village posing as pastors there to preach the Gospel.

This year alone, more than 2,000 of our fellow Northern Nigerians have been murdered. And the number of victims climbs higher every single day.

This is not just a Northern tragedy - this is a Nigerian tragedy. And as our community has borne witness at the forefront of the violence, our members wanted to be able to do something to help address the underlying problems that our community, and our Muslim friends and neighbours face on a daily basis.

We decided we needed to stand up and speak out.

We decided to stand up and speak out - about the importance of religious values and the religious freedoms of our people.

Stand up and speak out - about the importance of protecting minorities from persecution.

Stand up and speak out - about the provision of equal access to education, healthcare and justice for all Nigerians.

Stand up and speak out - about preserving the secular state and the integrity of the nation.

And stand up and speak out for our young people, so they are given opportunities to access jobs by investing in Northern infrastructure and businesses.

We know there is a terrible price to be paid for silence in the face of violence; for apathy in the face of oppression; and for indifference in the face of injustice.

We cannot stay silent and walk by on the other side of the road. We must stand up and speak out for those who cannot stand or speak for themselves.

But we cannot do it on our own.

NOSCEF is asking for the support of all those who read this post and believe in the values of fairness, equality and justice - regardless of ethnicity, religion or political affiliation - to join our campaign today.

Please join our call to stand up and speak out - sign our petition and raise your voice against violence.