THE growing threat of religious terrorism was one of the key
themes at the fourth African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI),
The three-day conference, which opened on Thursday of last week,
called on the Islamist group Boko Haram to release the abducted
schoolgirls in northern Nigeria.
The mood at ABLI towards Boko Haram ranged from hawkish outrage
to dove-like appeals for empathy and understanding. Warnings for
military restraint to avoid unnecessary bloodshed were countered by
denunciations of Boko Haram as "a new and insidious evil" that had
to be eradicated.
The ABLI declaration said: "Boko Haram must answer to everyone
for these girls, and ultimately they must answer to Almighty
Yet the conference fell short of addressing exactly how the
group should be brought to book.
A former Nigerian cabinet minister, Professor Jerry Gana, urged
the Nigerian people to exercise restraint and avoid taking the law
into their own hands. The General Secretary of the Bible Society of
Ghana, the Revd Erasmus Odonkor, called for a pan-African
initiative to tackle Boko Haram.
During the conference, church leaders called repeatedly for
prayers for the release of the girls, for their parents, and for
their captors. "It was indicative of the tone of the conference
that there was also prayerfor Boko Haram," the conference
moderator, Lord Boateng, said.