…As Christians protest in Abuja
From Uche Nnorom Makurdi and Albert Akota Abuja
Archbishop of Abuja Diocese John Onaiyekan has taken a swipe on the Government of Nigeria, insisting that its best in tackling security challenges is not good enough.
The Archbishop stated this in Ikyayongo, Gwer Local Government Area of Benue State at a funeral of two catholic priests and 17 parishioners murdered by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Archbishop Onaiyekan regretted that the grand plot for ethnic cleansing and conquest is a dangerous precedent for peace and stability of the nation, noting that a radical change is imperative.
He added that the polarization of the country along ethnic and religious ground is not in the best interest of peace and justice.
He condemned the killing of priests and Christians as devastating and horrifying, averring that there is no explanation or excuse that could be adduced for the killings in the nation especially in Benue state.
“This cannot be allowed to continue. Every human life is precious. One life killed is one life too many, no matter who the victim is. If we are not safe at worship places, then where can we be safe? It is an abomination to kill a priest of God.
“We have every reason to protest against those whose duty it is to protect us but have failed to do so. Our focus should be prayer and supplication for God to have mercy on our nation. Let not the devilish acts of few incur the wrath of God on our nation. God should spare the people, lest we perish. We should pray for the perpetrators of this wicked atrocities as well as those in power that God will purify and banish their hearts and minds from corruption and enable them do the right thing’.
He also, admonished Christians to strive for forgiveness and urged them to stay awake, be vigilant and alert as well as be one another’s keeper.
‘” If murderers are allowed to kill people freely, then the people will resort to self help and preventive strike. An eye for an eye will turn a village blind, Archbishop Onaiyekan submitted.
Tor Tiv the fourth, Prof. James Iorzua Ayatse urged his subjects to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness, peace and tolerance, assuring that God will grant them victory.
The paramount ruler advised the people to be awake as the devil is not sleeping, stating that the enemies will not be allowed to take over the land.
“Any son of Benue who connives and conspires with the government at the center to deceive the people , destruction will come upon them and our soil will swallow them,” the royal father cursed.
In funeral oration, Governor Samuel Ortom who lamented that over 492 persons have been killed in five months and three mass burials held in the state.
He wondered the motive of the murderers who have now changed the narrative from search for grass to other things.
Speaking, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo decried the spate of killing in churches and mosques in Nigeria which has spanned many years, maintaining that it is time to ensure justice by apprehending the assailants, adding that our system of law enforcement must be rebuilt to stop the senseless killings.
He condoled the catholic church in Nigeria and the Benue people, assuring them that evil will be defeated and good will triumph, positing that the church in Benue is indestructible.
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign from office if he is unable to fulfill his duty of protecting the people that elected him to power.
A representative of the CAN President Samson Ayokunle who stated this yesterday during gathering of Christians at the National Christian Center in Abuja for a peaceful protest against killings across the country said many lives have been lost by suspected herdsmen.
According to him, the protest was especially triggered by the killings of 19 people including two Catholic priests during an early morning mass at Saint Ignatius Catholic Church, Benue State in March.
“The church of God is mourning and we are together. The President promised to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria that has not been done. If he does not know how to do that, let him resign. “People who are killing us are not invisible. They are human beings.
They should be arrested and, prosecuted,” he said.
Also speaking to journalists after the protests at the Pro-cathedral, Director of Catholic Communication, Patrick Alumuku, noted the need for Christians to rise with one voice against the killings is now.
“We are aware that a lot of Muslims have been killed. But we also know about other parts of the world where these things have happened with major focus on Christians, so we will not wait, or fold our arms.”
The protest in Abuja was led by the Bishop Emeritus of the Abuja Archdiocese, Anslem Umorem.
Speaking during the mass, shortly before the protest began, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Nickolas Okoh, said although Nigerians from every religion “have been dealt a heavy blow by the herdsmen, Nigerians will not surrender their country for any reason”.
“We are aware that Muslims, Christians and even unbelievers have been killed by these people. This is a psychological warfare and we must not be intimidated,” he said.
He lamented the poor handling of the situation by the government and called on leaders “especially at the centre to do their best to protect the people.”