This report observes that the government’s policy really does appear to be to try to refuse to acknowledge the extent of situation in order to keep the peace, except that Boko Haram is ensuring there is not much peace to keep. Jihad, not peace, is the beneficiary of this approach. “As violence reigns, some flee north Nigeria,” by Jon Gambrell for the Associated Press, March 19:
NNEWI, Nigeria (AP) “” A town hall meeting called by Christians to discuss funeral arrangements turned into a bloodbath in northern Nigeria when members of a radical Islamist sect opened fire with assault rifles.
At least 20 members of the Igbo ethnic group died in that attack Jan. 6. More attacks have followed, targeting the largest Christian group living across Nigeria’s Muslim north.
Many Igbos are now fleeing the north, even as state officials and others downplay the exodus, likely out of fear of sparking retaliatory violence.
Or, the government could get off the sidelines. Silence or civil war, both with an absentee government, need not be the only options.
The Igbo are one of the three dominant ethnic groups in Nigeria. Based in Nigeria’s eastern states, the Igbo became largely Catholic after being colonized by the British.
Many became successful traders who spread throughout Nigeria. In the country’s Muslim north, Igbo traders often dominate car parts sales and other markets.
That often leaves Igbo traders the most exposed during ethnic and religious violence that has routinely gripped Nigeria since independence from Britain in 1960.
“We’re everywhere there’s a clash between any two groups of people because we’re a people who live all over the place,” said Maja Emeka Umeh, the spokesman of Anambra state in Nigeria’s east. “They end up killing our people.”
A failed 1966 coup, led primarily by Igbo army officers, sparked violence targeting Igbo people throughout Nigeria’s Muslim north. About 10,000 people died in the resulting riots and many fled back to eastern Nigeria ahead of secessionist leader Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declaring the region and much of Nigeria’s oil-producing southern delta its own nation.
Most recently, the Igbo have been targeted by the Boko Haram Islamist sect, which has killed more than 360 people this year alone, according to an Associated Press count. In a message to journalists at the start of the year, the sect threatened to begin killing Christians living in the nation’s north.
The attacks came soon after. People have been fleeing, with many taking buses to other parts of Nigeria. In Nnewi, a city in the south, attendance for Masses at St. Michael De Archangel noticeably rose from those who had returned, the Rev. Michael Onyekachukwu said.
The total number of displaced people is difficult to come by. While Nigerian Red Cross officials acknowledge Igbos fled the north, they declined to offer specific figures. Government officials also downplayed the number of those fleeing, saying many had returned to the north….