jQuery Slider

You are here

Nigerian Anglican Archbishop right to brand Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Org.

Nigerian Anglican Archbishop right to brand Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization

By Julian Mann
Special to virtueonline
October 27, 2012

The reasons why Islamist terror group Boko Haram, currently waging a relentless campaign of violence against the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ in Nigeria, has not yet been designated a 'Foreign Terrorist Organization' by the US Government is because it is mired in politics.

According to persecuted Christians charity, the Barnabas Fund, which co-sponsored the visit in August to Washington DC by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the US State Department considers that 'Boko Haram is motivated by poverty and marginalization rather than by the religious motives that Boko Haram themselves have often declared' (Barnabasaid magazine - November/December 2012).

That view, Barnabas Fund believes, accounts for 'the reluctance of the US State Department to designate Boko Haram a foreign terrorist group', compounding 'fears that the attacks will not be effectively counteracted'.

Whilst there may be elements in the US State Department who buy that 'poverty and marginalization' line, the real reasons for Boko Haram escaping the FTO designation that it deserves are more complex. There are powerful vested interests in Nigeria itself that do want the FTO label on a group within their country. Wealthy Nigerians travelling to the US do not wish to be subject to the inconvenience of a more rigorous entry regime.

And no doubt powerful commercial interests in the US do not want such good customers put to inconvenience either.

That is very arguably a case of elements in both country's elites failing to put the public good above their own financial interests.

The Administration of Nigeria's Christian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, is manifestly struggling to get on top of Boko Haram's terror for a variety of reasons, not least the number of Muslims in its own security and intelligence services. It desperately needs American help, and there were indications that when US Secretary of State, Mrs Hillary Clinton, visited Nigeria in August she was prepared to have Boko Haram designated an FTO.

Such a move could see US drones being used in northern Nigerian states, a development that is also opposed by elements in the Nigerian government. Certainly, no Christian person should want to see non-combatants in northern Nigerian villages injured or killed by drone strikes.

But the deployment of drones is not the only benefit or disbenefit (depending on one's opinion of their efficacy) that would result from the US Government treating Boko Haram as a threat to American lives. US intelligence expertise in counter-terrorism would be of great help to the struggling Nigerian security services.

The Nigerian Government needs to be humble enough to recognize the urgent need for Boko Haram to be designated an FTO. Certainly, Archbishop Okoh is well serving the cause of Christ's Kingdom in Nigeria and beyond by urging the US Administration of President Obama to take a morally responsible line against the wider terrorist threat that Boko Haram represents.

Julian Mann is vicar Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire. He is an occasional columnist for the Church of England Newspaper.

Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top