The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, yesterday repeated an offer to contribute towards any peace negotiations in Nigeria amid ongoing violence in some parts of the country.
Welby tweeted in January: 'I am deeply saddened by the killings and displacements in #Nigeria. President @MBuhari and authorities are exhorted to act now to end this violence and begin mediated dialogue. I mourn with this great country and stand with them in prayer, #prayforthepeaceofNigeria.'
Since then, however, the violence has spread, and yesterday Welby raised the situation in the House of Lords.
He said: 'I once again exhort president Muhammadu Buhari and other authorities, civil and religious, national and international, urgently to build a coalition to end this violence immediately.
'In communications earlier this year with the Primate of All Nigeria, His Grace Nicholas Okoh, I offered to contribute towards such effort to the extent such might be useful. I repeat that offer again, knowing, however, that within Nigeria are all the skills needed for resolution of the suffering of the people.
'My condolences go to those who have lost loved ones and property. I urge the authorities to seek for ways to ameliorate their sufferings and losses. I call on all people of goodwill to continue to pray for the peace of Nigeria.'
The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) noted that some 175,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Nigeria's Benue State and are now living in refugee camps since the start of this year – including more than 80,000 children.
ACNS said that the root cause is a conflict between nomadic herdsmen who graze cattle over vast areas, and farmers who wish to cultivate land for crops.
Five people were killed over the weekend in clashes near the Agatu local government area, according to AFP.
Separately, the Council on Foreign Relations basedin New York reported that 63 people were killed in eight separate incidents in the week leading up to March 23.
In January, the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria called on the government 'as a matter of urgency to address these ugly trends and ensure that the culprits are brought to justice'.