Damiete Braide, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan, and Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Christians, yesterday, marched along streets praying and seeking divine intervention to stem the spate of insecurity, kidnappings and killings ravaging Nigeria. The move followed the directive by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to members to embark on a three day fasting and prayers for the country.
General overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, who led members on a prayer walk against insecurity in the country, said every soul lost to insurgency was precious to God and prayed that evildoers in the country should be exposed. Adeboye, during a service held at the church’s headquarters in Lagos, prayed that God should “have mercy on Nigeria.”
“Let there be peace and security in Nigeria. God sees all things and knows where the terrorists are. We pray that God send His light to Nigeria and expose the evildoers in the country.
“Every soul is precious to God, whether a Christian or a Muslim. Father, we declare, no more death of the innocent in Nigeria. After the service, we are all going for a prayer walk. We will march according to our age. There are some who would march round the church because of their age and there are some who would march with me to Atan Cemetery and back,” Adeboye said.
The cleric expressed the optimism that God would address the country’s security challenges. He was accompanied in the march by other pastors of the church.
FG insensitive to plight of Christians
– CAN president
In Ibadan, Oyo State, national president of CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, who led Christians in a prayer walk, accused the Federal Government of being insensitive to the plight of Christians in the country.
Those who participated in the walk advised the Federal Government to rise up to its responsibility and provide protection for Nigerians, irrespective of religion or ethnic affiliation. The walk was held at the Oritamefa Baptist Church, Total Garden, Ibadan.
A large crowd of worshippers participated in what was a peaceful rally and they sang and marched round the church premises: “The church is marching on, the church is marching on, the gate of hell shall not prevail, the church is marching on,” was the popular hymn as they marched around the church.
The participants also carried banners with inscriptions that included: “Stop the killing of Christians,” “Stop persecuting Christians,” “Jesus is Lord,” and “We support the Christian Association of Nigeria.”
Ayokunle lamented the incessant killing of Christians and other Nigerians, especially in the North.
At another location in Ibadan, former chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in the state, Bishop Taiwo Adelakun of Victory International Church (Rehoboth Cathedral), Oluyole Extension, also led a prayer walk within the premises of the cathedral on Sunday.
The Christian body had declared a special prayer walk by Christians in all the states of the federation in the form of a procession on the final day of a three-day special fasting and prayer in all churches, home and abroad, which began on Friday, January 31, and ended on Sunday, February 2, 2020.
Ayokunle said the claim that the activities of the Boko Haram terror group were not against Christians could not be justified.
“My message, first of all to the Nigerian government, is to urge the administration to up their game on the issue of security. They said they are trying, but their best is not the best because, daily, bloodshed is happening. We cannot be playing politics with the lives of men and women.
“If anybody is telling government that they are doing their best, that person is not telling the truth. It is playing politics with human lives. If you politicians are playing politics, we in the church cannot play politics. The moment we don’t see bloodshed again, we in the church will begin to commend you.
“As long as we continue to see bloodshed and kidnapping on the road, we shall continue to call upon you because we elected you to provide security. The unorganised soldiers that are called terrorists should not be more powerful than the organised soldiers. We have the military upon which trillions of naira is being spent to keep us safe. This nonsense of killing must stop.
“Our President Buhari should rise up and up his game. If the attack is not religious, don’t let there be attacks on Christians again. The killing of the young man going to Maiduguri is still fresh in our minds. When they were killing him, they said it in Hausa or Arabic that it was because he was a Christian. Abubakar said he was out to plant Sharia from north to south. So, why are you saying it is not religious? Nigerians, be hopeful; your God will fight for you.
“Help will come from within and outside for Nigeria. I call on the international community, please, as you rose up for Syria, Iraq and other nations, rise up for Nigeria. Nigerians are bonafide human beings, they deserve to be protected by the international community,” Ayokunle said.
Adelakun prayed for peace and unity across Nigeria, appealing to the Federal Government to be proactive before the situation gets out of hand.
Pastor in charge of Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan, Rev. Remi Awopegba, also said: “Those who are of one mind would have compassion for one another. The killing of the CAN chairman was gruesome. People were being slaughtered. Suppose it were your husband or wife that was so captured and killed? It was not because he committed any sin but because he was a child of God. Has Nigeria become an Islamic State?”
Govt should review security policies
– Bishop Martins
Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Alfred Adewale Martins, has urged the Federal Government to review its policies on security, especially in the North-East.
“Bandits, terrorists or insurgents are killing innocent Nigerians and, as it is today, it is like government has lost control of security in the nation,” Martins said.
The cleric stated this at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Lafiaja, Obalende, Lagos, where he joined other Catholic faithful to celebrate Blessed Iwene Tansi feast day in Lagos. He advised government to stop the persecution going on in the North against Christians and review its policies in some of the northern states that discriminate against Christians.
The cleric advised the government to lift people out of poverty and take care of their welfare.
“Most of the government’s poverty alleviation programmes have not really made life worthwhile for the citizens.The youths should learn from the lifestyle of Blessed Iwene Tansi, who stood for good morals, and discipline; that’s what we advise parents to teach their children,” he said.
Nasarawa begins 3-day prayers
Nasarawa State chapter of CAN, yesterday, commenced three days of intense prayer over the spate of insecurity across the country.
Bishop Joseph Masin, the state’s CAN chairman, while speaking at beginning of the prayers held at the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) Lafia-Central, said divine intervention was needed to address the increasing insecurity in the country.
Masin said that, as religious leaders, they were not happy with the way Nigerian citizens were being killed carelessly in parts of the country.
The bishop called on the government to be proactive and prioritise the security of its citizens, irrespective of their religious affiliations.
He urged Nigerians to shelve their differences and unite in order defeat terrorists and other criminal elements threatening the survival of the nation.
Leaders and other members of the Christian body in the state gathered in Lafia and other local government areas for the prayers that would be concluded on Wednesday.
The programme featured prayers for peace, unity, development and integration of the country by different clergymen.
The clerics also condemned the senseless killing of Christians and other Nigerians by terrorists, bandits and criminals across the country.
They also reminded the President, governors and local government chairmen to rise up to their responsibilities of protecting life and property, to avoid situations where citizens would resort to self-help.
Abia joins others to protest killings, insecurity in Nigeria
In Abia State, members of the RCCG joined others across the country to protest the killings and insecurity in Nigeria.
The protesters, who carried placards with different inscriptions stating their displeasure over the spate of killings in the country, marched along the streets of Aba, the commercial hub of the state, and Umuahia, the capital, wearing black clothes that depicted mourning.
Speaking in Umuahia, Pastor Joshua Ayodele Tosin, pastor in charge of Abia Province III, RCCG, said, “We are condemning ritual killings in Nigeria. We are condemning kidnapping, terrorism, armed robbery in the nation, and we are equally condemning their sponsors.
“Nigeria must have peace. This is not how we started when we were young. All those that are sponsoring kidnappings and ritualists and those that are sponsoring every evil deed in Nigeria, God should take away power from them.
“The kidnappers and killers of Christians should pack their loads and leave, if not, the wrath of God will befall them. Shedding of innocent blood in this country must stop.
“The service chiefs should live up to their responsibilities. If they wake up to their responsibilities, we don’t think that the security situation in the country will escalate to this level. They have security budget, they should use the budget meant for security to fight insecurity.”
He added that security operatives know where the criminals are and they should do everything to fish them out, for peace to reign in Nigeria.
Rebuild destroyed churches –Delta CAN
Delta State chairman of CAN, Apostle Sylvanus Okorote, yesterday, called for the establishment of a security architecture in the mould of the South-West’s Operation Amotekun, in the South-South geo-political zone.
He spoke during a prayer walk in Asaba to protest the killings across the country.
Okorote urged the Federal Government to rebuild churches and Christian communities destroyed by insurgents like Boko Haram, ISWAP, militia and herdsmen.
He also appealed to government to give all religions the freedom and protection to practice their faith peacefully in any part of the country.