Speaking to the Catholic Herald, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri said: “Before, Boko Haram members were everywhere. But now they are not everywhere. They have been pushed to the forests.”
He added: “Boko Haram will soon fizzle out, mostly because of the prayers of the people.”
In 2014, Bishop Doeme says he had a vision of Christ handing him a sword which, as soon as he received it, turned into a rosary. Christ then repeated the words: “Boko Haram is gone”, which Bishop Doeme interpreted as an invitation to spread devotion to the rosary.
Since then, Boko Haram has suffered repeated setbacks.
In December, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office last year, said the terrorist group had been “technically defeated” because they were no longer able to mount conventional attacks, and because people who had been displaced by Boko Haram’s attacks were now returning to their former neighbourhoods.
The diocese of Maiduguri has been at the centre of Boko Haram’s attacks. In 2014, more than 80,000 Catholics have been displaced by Boko Haram’s attacks; more than 25 priests and 45 nuns had to flee.
Now, many of the displaced are returning, and Bishop Doeme says caring for returnees is a bigger challenge than terrorist violence. Many homes, crops and livestock have been destroyed by Boko Haram in the last few years.
In an interview to be published in this week’s Catholic Herald, Bishop Doeme says history shows that the saying of the rosary “has worked wonders, and has liberated nations”. He instances the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated, and the Phillippines in 1986, when President Marcos was deposed. Both events have been attributed to the power of the rosary.
Bishop Doeme says he believes Christ appeared to him in 2014 “in order to console his people, that His Mother is there for us.”
The bishop says the vision encouraged the people of Maiduguri “that the rosary would ultimately give us victory over this evil. Boko Haram is evil, ISIS is evil. So as long as we go to a place with His Mother, especially by praying the rosary, which is the most pronounced form of Marian devotion, we will be victorious.”