Press Release – Nigeria


Germany, Munich 23.04.2013Press Conference with presentation ofBishops attack government corruption 

John Newton, ACN United Kingdom

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

Attacking “the ugly tide of corruption” in Nigeria’s government, a Catholic bishop has highlighted the tough challenges the country’s new administration will face after the election. 

Montreal, Friday
February 13 In a message sent to international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria said the next parliament will need to deal with pressing issues destabilizing the nation. “Years of corruption have diminished the sense of loyalty to the Nigerian state,“ he said calling on the new president “to rally citizens around the project of a national identity and national unity.”

According to Bishop Kukah major inequalities have resulted from the wealth from Nigeria’s natural resources being concentrated in the hands of a few. “Despite the huge resources that the nation has received from the unprecedented sales in oil, there is hardly anything to show for it in the lives of ordinary citizens. The uncontrollable hemorrhaging of resources has led to the ubiquity of misery among the people.” He called on the election’s winners to channel resources into education, job creation and agriculture.

The impact of Boko Haram

Bishop Kukah warned that terrorist group Boko Haram had increased tensions between religious groups saying: “the insurgency has depleted a lot of the good will among the various ethnic groups and further deepened the fracture between Christians and Muslims.”

Nigeria: Military forces entering the north-east to help repel BDrawing attention to recent attacks by Boko Haram, Bishop Kukah said: “In Sokoto where I live, as well as most northern cities, the last few months have witnessed a huge exodus of citizens, some out of the country, and others to their ancestral homes in different parts of the country.”

There are fears of a repeat of the violence that followed the 2011 election, when 800 killed were killed over a three-day period and many churches, businesses and homes were destroyed. Bishop Kukah explained, “Sadly, the federal government did almost nothing to redress these issues. No one was prosecuted and except for a few, the federal government did not deal with the issues of compensation for the majority of the citizens who lost property.”

“This is based on the ugly experiences that have been associated with some of the worst form of violence in Nigeria,” said the bishop describing how Christians had started sending their families to their ancestral homes and states even before the Christmas.

But the prelate was largely positive about the elections, which are currently scheduled for Saturday, March 28. “Nigerians,” he said “are approaching the forthcoming elections with measured optimism, excitement but a deep sense of caution and even trepidation.” Saying that the result was “too close to call,” Bishop Kukah paid tribute to efforts to repel Boko Haram’s recent incursion further south ahead of polling day.

ACN has provided $64,220 in emergency aid to the displaced people of the Maiduguri diocese who fled the advance of Boko Haram.

The charity also provided $52,800 in Mass Offerings to priests in the diocese, half of whom found refuge in the neighbouring Yola diocese.



 Aid to the Church in Need organizes a prayer campaign for Nigeria

Montreal, Friday February 6, 2015 – On 14 February 2015 Nigeria will be voting for a new president and a new parliament. The April 2011 elections in Nigeria “were heralded as among the fairest in Nigeria’s history, but they were also among the bloodiest,” according to Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.  

St. Rita´s Catholic Church and it´s Catechists house in Kaduna h

Across 12 northern states – more than 800 people were killed in 3 days of rioting and 65,000 people were displaced. The imminent election is also overshadowed by the terror campaign of the Islamist organization Boko Haram, which wants to destabilize the country.

A show of solidarity 

Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos, President of the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference and the Christian Association of Nigeria said to Aid to the Church in Need: “It is time to show solidarity. We want to hold free and fair elections without violence. We want democracy, good government policies and that the militant Islamist groups change their attitude. We want to live together peacefully, as brothers and sisters. I therefore ask for your prayers so that the upcoming elections can be held peacefully, without violence and without bloodshed.”

Nigeria, Maiduguri diocese 2014Displaced kids

Bishop Dashe Dome, whose diocese of Maidiguri is the heartland of the Islamist terror group, called also for prayer to overcome the Boko Haram threat: “The most important thing is to pray for our people; I know people are praying for us and I am very grateful. I want people to pray the Hail Mary – our mother Mary has been championing our cause. We have a lot of devotion to the Blessed Virgin.”

The Call to Prayer will start one week before elections, on Saturday 7th February and will be held throughout the week, to raise awareness and encourage people to pray for Nigeria and for the peace in this country. Each day we will offer different prayers. In Twitter and Facebook you can follow the action using the hashtag #2015NigeriaPrayer.

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ACN News : Niger “The Christians must die, according to the disciples of Boko Haram”

© Aid to the Church in Need


“The Christians must die, according to the disciples of Boko Haram” 

By Dennis Peters / Maria Lozano, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

The islamist terror group Boko Haram wants to massacre all the Christians in Níger. So writes a missionary Sister in a dramatic e-mail message from the country. As a result of the violence, this Sister was forced to flee, along with the rest of her congregation, and they are now living in hiding with a family in the capital Niamey. In her e-mail she describes the terrible violence in the capital and in the town of Zinder, the second largest city in Niger. To protect her safety, we are not revealing her name.

The violent protests in Niger last week in reaction to the French satirical weekly Charlie hebdo claimed the lives of at least ten people and left 173 wounded. According to the Sister, these attacks “were planned.” 


Love is stronger than hatred

“At Christmas time Boko Haram had threatened to burn down all the churches in Niger and burn us alive! But for some reason it did not happen; no one knows quite why. It was by coincidence that the cartoons in Charlie hebdo set the world on fire. The Christians must die; that way we will be able to go to paradise, say the disciples of Boko Haram. It’s diabolical. But we are not going to let ourselves be moved by fear. Love is stronger than hatred.”

But apart from the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, it was also “the social crisis in Niger” that was one of the reasons for these cruel protests, she writes. In her e-mail, headed with the word “peace,” the Sister asks: “Why so much hatred and violence? Peace is not simply a word. We know just how fragile everything is. We have to work so hard to achieve peace, and starting with ourselves. Why so much hatred, so much violence? We are weeping. The tears are flowing. O Jesus, save us!”

She relates what had happened: “It started in Zinder first of all – with five deaths, four people inside a church and one in a bar. The French cultural centre was attacked and totally burned out, as was the BRS Bank also. The church was also set on fire, where the White Fathers live, and next door to them the Sisters of the Assumption, their house, the cars and the school – everything was on fire. They have nothing left except their lives, and that alone is something to be grateful for. They were able to flee in time and took refuge on a military base. One of the White Fathers, Father Ghislaine, was injured and is in hospital, but not too seriously.”

According to the Sister, the violence in Niamey was “on a major scale.” She describes how a group of men on motorcycles looted “the churches, one after another,” then destroyed them and burned them. “They took away everything they could use and then set fire to them, with cans of petrol. They also burned the Protestant and Evangelical churches – altogether around 40 churches; it was incredible!” But then they also looted and burned down bars, restaurants and petrol stations. Afterwards, they went on to attack the orphanages. “Fortunately the carers were able to take the children to where the police were, where they were safe, but they stole all the supplies of food,” she writes. According to the Sister, the nuns of Mother Teresa were at least able to save their hospital, along with its patients. The violent demonstrators were about to set fire to the hospital, but the Sisters bravely asked them: “Can we first of all take out the patients before you set fire to it? These words gave the rebels pause for thought and as a result they did not touch the hospital, but nevertheless they still burned down the church.”


© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

“We had to flee immediately”

Continuing her account, the Sister writes: “When the bishop heard that the two communities of Sisters were being attacked, Msgr. Laurent phoned both communities and told them they must flee immediately and seek refuge. We had already had phone calls from concerned Muslim friends, who had urged us: ‘Come with us, they will not burn down the neighbourhood where they themselves live.’ You never know with these gangs. I went to the chapel with another sister to consume the Blessed Sacrament, because they also try to burn the Tabernacles. We locked everything up, hoping to find the others again.”

Between them the Sisters did all they could in the little time they had. In the midst of the drama there was one Sister in the community who was from Rwanda – and who knew what it meant to flee, having been through the cruel genocide in Rwanda in 1994. She put on all the clothes she could find. “She had on five skirts and five blouses, one on top of the other. We were in fits of laughter when she came out of her room, like a giant; she could scarcely walk, she had so many clothes on! One of the other missionaries had only just returned from Poland and had not even had time to unpack her things, but we had to flee immediately.


“Pray for us, for our people, for the world.”

What a shock it was for her! The neighbours came to say goodbye, with tears in their eyes. We entrusted the key of the house to one of them. It was very emotional. A Middle Eastern family took us in, with the hospitality that the people of the East are known for. On the way we saw a Protestant church that had already been totally burnt out. No, it was incredible in a country so peaceful as Niger… But no, now Niger is no longer peaceful. For now we are safe, and living with a family. We pray, keep silence; respond to innumerable telephone calls from friends who are concerned for us and from other sisters. On Sunday we did not go to church, but last night there were two priests who came to celebrate Mass in a small downstairs room. It was very moving, as it was quite unplanned. God does not desert us. He is balm for our hearts, and our faith grows stronger.”

ACN-20131214-03689“We are at peace again. We do not intend to let ourselves be moved by violence or fear. No one knows what the future will bring. Let us only hope it will be more peaceful and that we will be able to return to live in community.”

The Sister concludes her message by asking our prayers for the situation in Niger. “Pray for us, for our people, for the world. So that the Light of the Love of Christ may be able to shine forth!”












Press Release – Nigeria

© Aid to the Church in Need

“The West should send military to defeat Boko Haram”

By John Pontifex, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

Montreal/London – Monday January 19, 2014 – A Bishop whose diocese in north-east Nigeria has suffered most at the hands of Boko Haram wants the West to send in military forces to defeat the militants.

Describing how a strategically superior Boko Haram was now recruiting from countries across north-Africa, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri said that Western military intervention was the only viable option in the fight against the militants, now allied to Islamic State.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians, the bishop said Nigeria’s military was weakened by incompetence, corruption and Boko Haram infiltration within its ranks. He warned that drastic action was urgently needed as the attacks earlier this month in strategically significant Baga showed that Boko Haram was poised to become a threat well beyond Nigeria’s borders and was recruiting from Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Libya.


© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

Killed for refusing to convert 

Bishop Dashe Doeme, whose diocese is the heartland of the Islamist terror group, said: “The West should bring in security – land forces to contain and beat back Boko Haram. A concerted military campaign is needed by the West to crush Boko Haram.” He said the situation had become so critical – with more devastating Boko Haram attacks last week south of Maiduguri – it demanded a repeat of the French campaign of early 2013 to force Islamists out of parts of Mali, also in west Africa. The bishop said the attack in Baga revealed the ineptitude of the Nigerian military, adding that incompetent senior officers should be sacked “as a lesson to the others. Among the soldiers,” he said, “there were sympathizers with Boko Haram – some of them were even Boko Haram members and many of them just ran away.”

The bishop also called for the arrest of clandestine foreign backers of the Islamist terror group, adding: “The [Nigerian] government knows who are sponsoring Boko Haram.” And describing how within five years, the Boko Haram threat has decimated his diocese with more than 50 churches and chapels destroyed and more than 200 churches abandoned. He said 1,000 of his faithful have been killed, many of them by Islamists.  “The [extremists], point a gun or a knife at them saying that if they do not convert they will be killed. Some of them have been killed for refusing to convert,” said Bishop Dashe Doeme. Describing how since 2009, nearly 70,000 of the 125,000 Catholics in Maiduguri had fled their homes, he appealed for help for faithful taking refuge in displacement camps.


© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

Prayer to overcome the Boko Haram threat

“The threat we face presents a very bleak future for the Church. Many of our members are scattered and others have been killed. In some areas there are no Christians any more. But the Church belongs to Christ. The Church will remain strong and many of our people have returned after land has been taken back by the Nigerian soldiers.”

Bishop Doeme called for prayer to overcome the Boko Haram threat and asked for people to pray the Hail Mary. “The most important thing is to pray for our people; I know people are praying for us and I am very grateful. I want people to pray the Hail Mary – our mother Mary has been championing our cause. We have a lot of devotion to the Blessed Virgin.”

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The bishop thanked ACN for providing $62,672 CAN in emergency aid for displaced people from his diocese.

The charity has also given $50,870 CAN in Mass Offerings for the priests of Maiduguri diocese, half of whom have taken refuge in the neighbouring diocese of Yola in eastern Nigeria.


PRESS RELEASE : Persecution of religious minorities in conflict régions – A silent war

Marcela Szymanski and Mark Riedemann, ACN InternationalACN-20140930-13994

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, AED Canada


Montreakl/Brussels/Königstein, 17 December 2014 – Aid to the Church in Need’s (ACN) Worldwide Religious Freedom Report 2014 was presented on Thursday 11th December at the European Parliament in Brussels. Speaking to an audience of 110 invited MEP’s and NGO representatives, the report’s Chairman of the Editorial Committee, Peter Sefton-Williams, invited the European policy-makers “to call on religious leaders to speak together against religiously inspired violence”.


In addition to presenting the key-note speech for this 2-day seminar hosted by the European People’s Party, ACN supported the event with the participation of four witnesses Bishop Steven Mamza of Nigeria (Yola Diocese), Sister Hanan Yousef of Lebanon, Mrs. Dina Raouf Khalil of Egypt and Dr. Paul Bhatti of Pakistan who each related their own experiences of persecution, or care of those who suffer persecution or discrimination at the hands of others.

MINORITÉS-2Nigeria’s Bishop Mamza, who feeds 60,000 refugees in his diocese and gives shelter to 10,000 in Church buildings as a consequence of the terrorist aggression said, “Boko Haram is only looking for power, they say it is like ancient Islam but even local imams say Islam has never been such a heartless religion”. Pakistan’s Dr. Paul Bhatti added, “The Taliban inspires the hate speech of many imams in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India and the lack of education makes it difficult to protect the young from this kind of fundamentalism”.

No time to loose

The speakers highlighted that religious persecution is generating unprecedented waves of migration and displacement, often affecting the most vulnerable – women and children. Sister Hanan Youssef of the Good Shepherd Sisters working with Iraqi and Syrian refugees in the poor quarters of Beirut, said that in 2014 her small dispensary alone had served 18.000 patients. Illness such as polio long eradicated from Lebanon, have returned with the refugees and that the majority of the 120 new patients she treats everyday have no means with which to pay for the medication having been stripped of every possession in their flight.

Mrs. Dina Raouf Khalil, coordinating the development of 35 schools with 12.000 students in the poorer regions of Upper Egypt, explained that in many ways Egypt had been spared the tragedy presently tearing apart the fabric of societies in neighboring countries. As she explained, although Egypt clearly faces a number of challenges there are small signs of hope such as “a young population that is beginning to renew an educational interest in the arts, which is also indicative of a move away from violence”.

MINORITÉS-3As summarized by the Members of the European Parliament chairing the panels, there is no time to loose to stop the advance of religious extremism and that strong words from governments must be accompanied by actions that support the persecuted minorities worldwide. So too, here in the West, action must be taken to address a growing concern regarding the level of religious illiteracy and the fertile ground this creates for radicalization as reflected by the number of young Europeans and Americans joining the jihadists.

Among the proposals, Father Patrick Daly Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe to the European Union, suggested that public and private education should work to increase the religious literacy of young Europeans: historically accurate and factual information about religion and beliefs and their role in society’s cultural, historical and artistic development. “Churches and religious communities are ready to cooperate in this important task to help people understand the cultural background and the religious environment that surrounds us”. No less, officers in public services and diplomatic and external services should be trained in religious affairs to better understand the social fabric in the areas of their expertise.


News from Nigeria



By ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

Boko Haram emerged as a terrorist group in 2009. In the last few months we have seen the aggressive devastation of the Boko Haram activities. Many of our people are forced out of their ancestral homes. Right now, thousands are living in mountain caves; the few who were able to escape have been taken in by friends and relatives in Maiduguri and Yola. Thousands have managed to escape to Cameroon and are living in very difficult conditions lacking food, shelter and medication.

Parents stood by watching their children grow weak and die. A good number of our youth are forcefully conscripted, while the elderly, women and children are converted to Islam. A lot of Nigerians are trapped and are forced to practice strict Sharia law in communities like: Bama, Gwoza, Madagali, Gulak, Shuwa, Michika Uba up on till Mubi. These are the towns on the Federal road linking Maiduguri and Yola in Adamawa state.

All of these captured towns by our estimation are no longer part of the Nigerian entity because no one can go in, but those who would luckily escape have got stories to tell. The terrorists have declared all the captured towns as Islamic Caliphate. The people trapped are forced to accept and practice the strict doctrines the militants are out to propagate.

Mubi is predominantly a Christian community and the second largest commercial nerve in Adamawa state after Yola. It forms a district in the Diocese of Maiduguri and has two strong parish centers: St. Andrew’s Catholic Church and Holy Trinity. It also has two great Chaplaincies: Federal Polytechnic and Adamawa State University.

Wednesday October 29th was a sad day in the whole diocese.  The Boko Haram insurgents over ran the town making over 50,000 inhabitants flee. A good number fled to Cameroon and were trapped for days: Including five priests and two sisters. With the fall of Mubi; of the six districts, three have been captured and occupied by the terrorists. What a life!! We are keeping to the Church’s teachings on the witness of presence.

We have over 100,000 Catholics displaced and some who were trapped are still finding their way out to safe towns.  For now the diocese is saddled with the responsibility of caring for the Internally Displaced persons. This she does across board not minding religious confessions, because we look at our common humanity.  We have more than seven camps in Maiduguri and other displaced brethren are with their relations and friends.


With the fall of Mubi the Estimated Figure of Destruction reads:


  • of Persons killed: Over 2,500 Catholic Faithful have been killed.
  • Displaced persons: Over 100,000 Catholic faithful are displaced. Most schools in the Northeast cannot reconvene regular activities not only because of the terrorists, but also because such school premises now serve as refugee camps.
  • Displaced Priests: Out of the (46) priests currently working in the diocese (26) are displaced. Many of such Priests are accommodated by Bishop Dami Mamza of Yola Diocese.
  • Displaced Catechists: Over (200) Catechists are displaced.
  • Displaced Rev. Sisters: Over (20) Rev. Sisters are displaced.
  • Abducted women and girls: Over (200).
  • Forceful conversion to Islam: A good number of our faithful have been converted to Islam against their will.
  • Deserted convents: Out of the (5) convents, (4) have been deserted.
  • Churches destroyed: Over (50) churches and rectories have been razed down, a good number were destroyed more than once.
  • Deserted Churches/Chaplaincies: Out of the (40) parish centers / chaplaincies (22) are presently deserted and occupied by the terrorists.
  • Affected Schools: The diocese has over (40) primary and secondary schools, over (30) have been deserted.
  • Compensation: The diocese has not seen any compensation for the destructions of lives and properties from 2006 and 2009 to date.


Borno State has been captured and occupied by Boko Haram, Gomboru Ngalla and Bama, Gwoza, Maffa and Abadam. Askira Uba, Dikwa, and  Marte. Other towns include: Pulka, Banki etc. Maiduguri is completely surrounded by the terrorists.  The one exit out of Maiduguri city is only the Maiduguri-Damaturu road.  The same is true for areas of Adamawa State and Yobe State. These towns are under strict control by the terrorists and no well meaning Nigerian can trespass.










Aid to the Church in Need supports Christian refugees

ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

Montreal/Königstein, 27 October 2014 – The international Catholic charity “Aid to the Church in Need” will support refugees who fled from attacks of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. Answering a request from Bishop Oliver Doeme from the Roman Catholic diocese of Maiduguri in North Eastern Nigeria “Aid to the Church in Need” has just approved a $64,000 aid package to help the diocese of Maiduguri manage the situation of the refugees.

The beneficiaries of this support will be the men, women and children, young and old, who have found refuge in the Cameroons, in the mountains, in Maiduguri and Yola. Also 200 catechists and their families, as well as those priests from the diocese taking refuge in Yola will benefit from this help.

Since 2009 the Diocese of Maiduguri is the worst hit diocese by the Boko Haram attacks. The three Northern Eastern Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa are at the centre of Boko Haram activities. And the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri covers two and half of these states. Since 2009, many of the Church’s structures, priests rectories, schools, hospitals, shops, personal houses of lay people and business centers have been destroyed whilst over 80,000 of the diocese’s members have fled their ancestral villages and taken refuge in different places.


A total disconnection

So far the Nigerian Army has failed to protect the civilian population. Given Boko Haram’s technical superiority, the mastery and resilience with which they fight, the military are unable to face their attacks and they flee, asking civilians to do the same. The government seems unable to protect the lives of its citizens and there is a total disconnection between what is being reported on the Nigerian media and the reality on the ground.

As a consequence of Boko Haram’s almost unchallenged over-run of many towns and villages in the Northeast part of the country, thousands of these Internal Displaced People (IDPs) are living in caves in the mountain or in the forest. Others who managed to escape from the terrorists are being absorbed by friends and relatives in Maiduguri, Mubi and Yola. Thousands were able to escape to the Cameroons and are living under very difficult conditions of lack of food, shelter and medication.

These refugees are in urgent need of water, food, clothes, shelter and medical care. Speaking to “Aid to the Church in Need” Mons. Oliver Doeme, Catholic Bishop of Maiduguri, laments that the Nigerian government is failing to provide them with the necessary support to survive: “Given the political situation in the country, the funds meant for the victims of terrorism very seldom reach the actual people on the ground. The Church has been making efforts to offer as much help as possible. The diocese of Maiduguri has given some relief materials to over 1,500 IDPs and it has joined hands with the Yola diocese to assist those who have taken refuge there. In the spirit of ecumenism, we have even assisted refugees in Maiduguri who are mostly Christians from other church denominations.”

Slaves and prisoners in their homeland

However the reality is that the Church has been badly hit by this crisis and it is well over stretched in terms of finances, pointed Mons. Oliver Doeme. “We are in dire need of external assistance to help alleviate the difficult situation of the refugees, especially of the children who, out of school and vulnerable to diseases, face an uncertain future.”


According to Bishop Doeme “people are dying every day and in most cases with no one to bury them decently, they are left to rot; their homes and properties looted; they have become slaves and prisoners in their fatherland, here is a government that cannot safe guard the lives of its citizens and indeed life has become so cheap that it can be wasted any moment. We use to think that salt is the cheapest commodity in the market, well, life is cheaper now especially in the Northeastern part of Nigeria.”

Bishop Doeme stressed that both Muslims and Christians have been affected by Boko Harams terror. But he added that there is “still a religious under-tone to this whole mess. We might shy away from it, we may be silent and unable to speak up or speak out now against the plan to Islamize the Northeast and eventually Nigeria. But what we are witnessing in Northern Adamawa is a clear confirmation and the unfolding of this agenda. Many young people were forcefully taken and conscripted into the Boko Haram and are currently receiving training in the captured Mobile Base in Limankara. Women who could not escape were forced to convert to Islam and married out to the terrorists; some of the elderly who cannot escape are being killed, some are left to die from hunger and starvation. This is the fate of every single town or village that has fallen into their hands. Killings, destruction, looting, forced marriage, forced recruitment or conscription, forced conversion to Islam and mounting of their flags and declaration of Sharia’ah or caliphate mark their activities.”

Msgr. Doeme is not very optimistic about the future. According to him “a major area of concern is that no one knows when Boko Haram members will be flushed out of these areas so that our people will go back. It is our prayer that it happens soon. But for sure, no one knows when it will happen.”

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
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