Christians across various denominations staged peaceful protests in many locations in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Sunday against the recent killing of Deborah Samuel, a female college of education student that was killed in Sokoto State, over alleged blasphemy, as well as other victims of religious extremism across the country, demanding justice for the victims.
The protests were staged at the premises of Orita-Mefa Baptist Church at Total Garden, state secretariat of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) at Ijokodo, premises of Victory International Church (Rehoboth Cathedral) at Oluyole Extension, and other places. Some churches observed the protests in the morning, while others did it from 3pm downward.
The protesters carried placards, with inscriptions, such as ‘Killers of Deborah Samuel must be prosecuted’, ‘We condemn religious killings’, ‘We want justice’, ‘Say no to brutality’, ‘Let peace reign’, ‘Killing by anyone, especially in the name of God should never be condoned’, ‘We say no to religious extremists’, Nigeria Police should do their work’.
Speaking during the protest, staged at Orita-Mefa Baptist Church, CAN President, Rev’d Supo Ayokunle, demanded justice for those, whose lives had been cut short through religious intolerance.
He enjoined the Federal Government to ensure that the supremacy of the country’s constitution is upheld, adding that no religious group should be allowed to contravene the constitution.
Ayokunle, however, charged Christians across Nigeria to maintain peaceful coexistence with their neighbors, regardless of religious affiliations.
The CAN chairman in Oyo State, Apostle Joshua Akinyemiju, a retired colonel of the Nigerian Army, led the protest that was staged at the state secretariat of CAN, ijokodo, Ibadan. He told Daily Sun that the protest was decentralised to achieve its purpose.
His words: “Christians have been victims of killings in the name of blasphemy in this country, especially in the North. We want it to stop. We do not want anybody to kill anybody. Nobody has the right to take another person’s life. It is only God that has the right to give life and take it. So, any other person doing it is commiting sin against God.
“Our God is a God that can fight got Himself. We don’t need to fight for Him. Our God is capable. He is omnipotent, omniscient and so on. He has not called anybody to do that for Him. God wants us to coexist. If He does not want us to coexist, He would have created only Islamic religion, or Christian religion, or Ifa religion. Of course, He wants us to coexist and learn from one another.
“God gives us understanding to understand ourselves and to live one another. When He said love your neighbour like yourself, He doesn’t give any condition. Your neighbour could be a Christian or a Muslim, love him as you live yourself.”
The Presiding Bishop, Victory International Church, Bishop Taiwo Adelakun, who led the congregation during the protest in the church, advised Christians and Muslims to make religious tolerance their watchword.
Highlights of the protests across all the locations include a minute silence for Deborah Samuel, as well as prayers for Nigeria, the body of Christ, family of the late Deborah Samuel, and all those who have been killed in like manner. Members of the Christian body also took turn to pray to God in different languages.