Prayer plea for west Africa following Niger coup

Prayer plea for west Africa following Niger coup Members of a military council that staged a coup in Niger attend a rally August 6, at a stadium in Niamey, Niger. Photo: OSV News/Mahamadou Hamidou, Reuters

A Nigerian priest based in Athlone has begged the Irish Faithful for prayers for peace in West Africa as tension mounts in the region following the Niger coup which took place last month.

The coup that ousted Niger’s president Mohamed Bazoum in late July comes in the wake of a series of similar military takeovers in west African nations, including Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.

West African military chiefs are due to meet this week to discuss their response to the developments in Niger, with many fearing a military intervention.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Fr Innocent Sunu from the diocese of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria said that he is “seriously and honestly, with tears flowing from my eyes, begging and asking the people of Ireland, let us go on our knees, pray for this world, world peace, pray for Africa, particularly west Africa and pray for these leaders”.

“That God will touch their hearts and inspire good decisions in dialogue and in good communication,” Fr Innocent said.

A concern of Fr Innocent’s is that the rise of instability between the western African nations will allow Islamic fundamentalists to take advantage of the unrest and target Christian communities in the region.

“This is the beginning of tension,” Fr Innocent said.

“People are agitated, people are crying, people are hungry. People are already feeling the impact of an impending war. Don’t forget, that region where I come from is one of the poorest regions in Nigeria, if not the poorest. It is highly Islamic dominated”.

A potential war between west African nations “will lead to probably religious crisis, because at every little provocation, the people will descend on anything that is associated with the west and one of the things associated with the west is Christianity,” Fr Innocent warned.

“So now they will use this opportunity to begin to burn churches and invade Christians’ houses and kidnap Christian girls and destroy Christian businesses to show dominance.”