Nigerian Bishop Matthew H. Kukah Speaks on Church and Security Challenges in Northern Nigeria
April 29th, 2016
Bishop Matthew Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Nigeria recently addressed a packed room of staff from Catholic organizations, Africa-focused coalitions and a representative from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). The event was hosted in Washington, D.C. by Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN). The Bishop spoke about the challenges facing Nigeria, particularly the conditions of Sokoto in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, where his diocese is located.
Bishop Kukah was in the U.S. as part of a 10-day tour to raise awareness about conditions in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, where Christian communities live under the constant threat of Boko Haram militants. Christians there make up “about two or three percent of the population,” he noted. “They live under sharia, or Islamic law, and live under a constant threat from Boko Haram”.
Speaking extensively on the history and geopolitics of Nigeria and the impact of recent religious conflicts on Church ministry, Bishop Kukah emphasized the need for actions today that promote the common good and protect all Nigerians. He shared how local conflicts, for example, have presented challenges to their expansion plans. Present community laws limit their access to land for building more churches and schools, although diocesan schools serve all local children regardless of religion.
“The challenges in Sokoto are enormous,” the Bishop told the group, “but we are very grateful to God because we are really happy. The difficulties are making it possible and easier for us to witness about Christ.”
Bishop Kukah served as a member of the Nigerian Investigation Commission of Human Rights Violations and also shared his recent efforts to promote Muslim-Christian dialogue.
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Nigeria mission includes parish ministries within the Archdiocese of Jos and Diocese of Orlu.
Bishop Kukah is a well-known mediator and human rights activist in Nigeria, in addition to his leadership of the Sokoto diocese. He holds a PhD from the University of London (SOAS) and a Masters in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford.