Letter to Secretary of State Blinken Regarding the Situation in Nigeria, June 24 2021
June 24, 2021
The Honorable Antony Blinken
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
2100 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Blinken:
As Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace I wrote you on March 19, 2021 in support of a statement by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (issued on February 23, 2021). My letter emphasized that the statement was a turning point because the bishops argued that the country was on the verge of collapse due to the government’s inability or unwillingness to uphold their constitutional responsibility to protect the Nigerian citizenry.
I write now due to further worrisome developments. The Nigerian government has strongly and publicly criticized the Church statement and other religious leaders’ pronouncements claiming such proclamations represent ploys to remove President Buhari from power. The Church has responded to the government’s claims and I attach the statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President for your consideration.
The Government of Nigeria has intensified its crackdown on loyal dissent, closing down all Twitter accounts. On May 28 and 29, 128 civil society organizations marched in Abuja to mark a National Day of Mourning for the thousands of people who have died from the violence. The National Association of Catholic Lawyers issued a statement in May (attached herewith) that deplores the rising tide of violence across the nation and critiques the government for its posture of unconcern.
Continuing our Committee's call to seek peaceful means to promote greater security and reform the government of Nigeria, we urge you to work with the Nigerian Catholic Bishops’ Commission on Church and Society and the National Association of Catholic Lawyers to promote interfaith dialogue and support the local Church’s efforts towards these ends.
Nigeria’s general elections in 2023 are on the horizon, we must not turn a blind eye to the rapidly developing crisis, or blithely hope that Nigeria will “muddle through” as expressed by Ambassador John Campbell in a recent June article in Foreign Affairs. There is a real fear that these elections will aggravate the deep divides that exist in the country and hasten its collapse and risk enveloping the wider region. Our committee staff are prepared to engage and work with State Department and USAID officials towards these ends. We urge you to pursue this opportunity for the good of the people of Nigeria.
Most Reverend David J. Malloy
Bishop of Rockford
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
Enclosure: Archbishop Akubeze Statement of May 5, 2021, Statement of the National Association of Catholic Lawyers2021-06-24-Africa-Nigeria-CIJP-Malloy-Letter-Secretary of State Blinken-Situation in Nigeria.pdf
Archbishop Akubeze Statement of May 5, 2021.pdf
Statement of the National Association of Catholic Lawyers-May 2021.pdf