The Federal Government on Thursday unravelled plans by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) to cause religious war in Nigeria.
The country’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed at a news conference in Abuja, said part of the plan was for the insurgents to start attacking Christians and Christian villages in order to instigate a religious war in the country.
He said at the onset, Boko Haram and ISWAP normally attack both Christians and Muslims, but that now, they had changed their strategies.
“In the wake of a renewed onslaught by our tireless military against Boko Haram and their ISWAP allies in recent times, the insurgents have apparently changed their strategy: They have started targeting Christians and Christian villages for a specific reason, which is to trigger a religious war and throw the nation into chaos.
“Apparently, they have realized how emotive and divisive religion can be, when exploited by unscrupulous persons. Lest I am misunderstood, let me repeat: the insurgents, who delude themselves as Muslims whereas they are nothing more than blood-thirsty, rapacious killers who subscribe to no religion, have recently started targeting Christians with a view to sowing the seed of confusion between the two great religions.
“This did not in any way signify that they have stopped attacking Muslims. But they seem to now have a deliberate policy of attacking Christians. The attack on a Christian village, Kwarangulum, near Chibok; the killing of the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika local government in Adamawa, Lawan Andimi; the killing of Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a student who was also a member of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN); and the killing of 11 Christians on Christmas eve, etc, fit into this new strategy,” he stated.
Mohammed added that some have misinterpreted this to insinuate a systematic campaign to persecute Christians in Nigeria, describing it as absurd, and very unfair to the men and women who were daily battling the insurgents.
He said the truth was that, having run out of options in their battle against Nigeria, the insurgents were desperate to stay relevant, to stay in the news, hence their cowardly and senseless strategy targeting Christians, as part of their increasing resort to the use of Guerrilla tactics.
“We want to therefore appeal to our religious leaders, both Christians and Muslims, not to fall for this desperate move by the insurgents, not to allow them to divide us as a people and weaken our resolve to deal the insurgents the mortal blow. In addition, we must also give our unalloyed support to the military, which has also upped the ante against the insurgents.
“The resort to the increasing use of Guerrilla tactics by the insurgents is a sign of weakness on their part. Contrary to the belief in certain quarters, these insurgents are getting weaker by the day, thanks to the gallantry of our men and
women in uniform,” he said.
Mohammed noted that the renewed vigour by the military in their war against the insurgents was paying off handsomely, judging by the victories they have recorded in recent times, which he said included the killing of top ISWAP leaders at two separate meeting venues at Marte Local Government in Borno State a few days ago; a similarly successful attack against the leadership of Boko Haram in Alafa Yagayaga in Borno earlier this month; the killing of Boko Haram Chief Judge in Lake Chad and that the in-fighting in the leadership cadre of Boko Haram was a fallout
of the pressure on the insurgents by the military, among others.
The minister appealed to leaders, especially religious leaders, not to fall for the antics of Boko Haram and ISWAP, who were trying to divide “us along religious lines by targeting Christians for attacks. This is the last desperate move by a decimated and disillusioned band of killers and psycopaths to stay relevant amid constant decimation by our gallant troops.
“We have what it takes to come together and foil this divisive and satanic strategy. We appeal to Nigerians to support the military as it moves to decapitate the insurgents. Second-guessing the military at this time
is like playing into the hands of Boko Haram.”