The plight of Christians in the North of Nigeria- Mark Jacobs



Mark Jacob one time Attorney General in Kaduna State was recently in Lagos to address a conference organised by E-life Magazine in conjunction with the Christian Press Association of Nigeria on the experience of Christians in the North and the need to stem the tide of abuses and marginalisation that Christians are suffering in that part of the country.



He granted a brief interview to media men including Church Times representative at the forum. Below are excerpts from the interview


What is it about the Christianity in the North that those in the south don’t know?


Well it is difficult to say because I really don’t know what they know and what they don’t know. But our concern largely is to ensure that our brethen in the south are update with reality. We want them to be on the same page on what is  happenings around the country.


When we raise alarm that there is a concerted international effort to islamise Nigeria we get shocked when we hear southern Christians say it is impossible. And when we look at event that have occurred before now, we would have said the same thing some years ago. But in the last four years what has happened indicates clearly that if we don’t do anything we may get swallowed up in the whole process.


For instance in 2010 I was involved in an NGO work to enlighten our people and advise people on what needs to be done to stop the hands of the attackers. If you remember the attack in Dogonawa in Plateau, where about 500 people were killed, we did not know it was just the beginning of the onslaught. When we raised the alarm then, our brethren in the middle belt said we were just raising undue alarm. Some of them boasted they were warriors and that nothing could happen. But by 2011 we had the post-election violence and the whole of the middle belt was engulfed in untold mayhem. Benue particularly became a soft target. But the irony of it is that a professor who once dismissed our warning and said we were rabble rousers soon came to his senses.


He said we were being sponsored by the PDP and that there was nothing like Fulani attacks. But he later came to confess that he was sorry when Benue was attacked. He went on air and was screaming and talked about the attack. He confessed that though he is a professor of history but that he was out of touch with event.


I am saying this because it is possible for the Southern Christians to say it is impossible. As long as we are saying it is impossible the people perpetuating the mayhem will keep carrying out more attacks and instigating violence. They are happy that we are not seeing the danger that is coming. They are happy to operate under the atmosphere of our unpreparedness. They have tested the waters.  They have found political allies across the country that can help them perpetuate their agenda.

But why are you crying out now. There had been attacks right from the time of Obasanjo as the president of the country?


We have been crying right from the time of Obasanjo only that people were not listening. We were running against our government then even as member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party. I did a lot of interviews on channels drawing the attention of people to what is going on in the country.


If you go online you will see my name in many interviews. But our pain is that people don’t believe. All along we have been working with Middle Belt Dialogue and then we worked with Stephanous Foundation. They did a lot of work in the regard to warning people and creating awareness.


But some people think what is going on is a PDP agenda to discredit this government?


We are in a democracy and the government draws strength in the constitution. We read about federal character and the demands of the constitution not to centralise appointments. So it is natural to raise the alarm now. Any discerning person will wonder what is going on. All the arm bearing agencies of government are all occupied by the Muslims and particularly people from a particular tribe. This is clearly an indication there is fire on the mountain. This country is drifting towards use of force to ensure peace. If all the command structures are in the hands of Muslims it goes a long way to tell us there is something wrong somewhere. Nepotism gives birth to bad government. The situation where they could decide the fate of the country in the Mosque is not palatable.

But is that enough to think Nigeria could be islamised?


These are the issues that are threatening the harmony of the country. The deliberate conscious actions of government does not seem to signal a good omen. A whole village was surrounded and people were killed. Selected houses were burnt and the military and the police were not far from the place of the attack. The combined team of the military were seeing all these and nobody was arrested.


I was there. We saw the attackers on the other side and the attackers did not go away immediately. I had a friend and when the attack was going on we saw all these things unfold but we were helpless. We could see the attackers and we tried to get the police to come to the rescue but they told us they were not given orders. It was like a film show for us. Within that period town after town came under the same attack and nobody has been arrested and interrogated.


But what is the history of the attack in the North?


It is difficult to pin the attack to particular time in history. There had been one off attacks. But in the late eighties there was a new kind of violent Islam where people were clamouring for a puritan state. It started with the South West where they are now talking about Hijab. Educated people are making case for it. It looks harmless but then if small issues like this are given prominence you begin to see the long term agenda. They are now clamouring for mosques in public institutions. We gave lands for the building of mosques and we accommodated them but gradually they begin to struggle with us over our land because they have the instruments of coercion. That is the unfortunate side of our experience in the North of Nigeria.


All the arm bearing agencies of government are all occupied by the Muslims and particularly people from a particular tribe. This is clearly an indication there is fire on the mountain. This country is drifting towards use of force to ensure peace. If all the command structures are in the hands of Muslims it goes a long way to tell us there is something wrong somewhere. Nepotism gives birth to bad government. The situation where they could decide the fate of the country in the Mosque is not palatable.


We had two presidents in the past who were Christians. Yet, they could not handle the sharia issue when it came up. Don’t you think Christians lost the opportunity to do the needful when they had power?


It is Christians that are laid back and pessimistic. Christians are the ones who express disenchantment. Christians are liberal and always want to be politically correct. But the truth is that what we are experiencing is not a local agenda. It is global. They are well funded.


When we talk about the herdsmen, people refuse to ask where do they get AK 47. These ammunition don’t come cheap. And you see them with it unmolested. In a particular community, a guy just strolled out of his house. As he was coming back he had a gun shot and that house was burnt and everybody in that house died. He recognised three of the attackers as his Fulani friends but nothing was done to them when he reported the case to the police. We say they are innocent but what is that thing that happened to them that they have now become violent. It’s a grand plan and they are being used for a global agenda.


How do you think they can be successful in this agenda?


They are trying to wipe out the middle-belt so they could have access to the south. The colonial masters carved out the middle belt states and wickedly tried us to mix us up with the north. The middle belt is not Hausa. I served in Ogun State, went to law school in Lagos. I went for NYSC in Abeokuta in a school and I was given an accommodation that was not too nice. I was student union president and I had a big room to myself. So I was taken aback by the accommodation I was given when I complained the man in charge was calling me Hausa. He said “you these Hausa people”. But my name does not even have any Hausa connotation. We learnt Hausa the way we learn English. In my village you dare not call anybody Hausa. They see the Hausas as oppressors. My language is Pajju.


When the colonialists took over the country they had the indirect rule policy in the North. The north had an established system already so they used the existing structure to rule. The Britons were here for commercial reasons and not to Christianize the country. They built infrastructure for their own benefit. The groundnut pyramid were built in the core North but the middle belt planted the groundnut that were taken to the core North. Then they used to take our groundnut at their own price from the middle belt. The collected taxes from us and collected our crops in lieu of tax. Those in the south did not see a bit of oppression of the oppression we are experienced in the North in the colonial days. They used to ride on horses to harass our people in the colonial era. And that is what they are trying to revive again with the killings and marginalization we are experiencing.

Read also:  Is Islam a threat?…an expose on the subtle islamisation plan in  Nigeria



Is it all bad news in the middle belt?


The only asset we have is education. The school that were created were centred on the Christian environment. The Muslims did not have interest in education because they say it was haram  (forbidden). This Boko Haram thing has not just started. But with all our education we could not rise to any good position. The British had commercial interest while the Fulani who brought Islam had domination interest. The British found alliance with the Fulani. The North wanted sharia but the middle belt said no that they were not Muslims. That has been the war between the middle belt and the core North. Our pain is that when we raise the alarm that these people have some ulterior motive those in the south think we are just making allegations that are unfounded.


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