From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Delta Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has decried the rising cases of kidnapping, killings and attacks on clergy men and worship centres in the country.
The governor spoke at a security seminar tagged “Securing worship centres and clergymen in contemporary Nigeria”, organised yesterday in Asaba by his Special Adviser on Religious Matters, Apostle Sylvanus Okorote, who doubles as state chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The governor, represented by Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, stated that while security agents were working hard to apprehend perpetrators of heinous crimes, it had become imperative to equip church leaders and families with basic knowledge on personal security and safety at places of worship.
He said in recent times, the nation had witnessed rising cases of abduction of pastors who are sometimes killed, or in some cases ransomed paid to secure their releases.
“Although no fatality has been recorded among abducted clergymen in Delta, yet this unholy trend calls for concern. Given the turbulence and uncertainties that have plagued this nation in our recent political history, there is no gainsaying the fact that it is the prayer of the righteous that have kept this country together,” he said.
He said his administration was committed to the security of the state and the peaceful coexistence of various ethnic nationalities.
“We have continued to bolster our security architecture to ensure that together with your prayers we win the battle against armed robbery, kidnapping, and all forms of criminality. As you may be aware, we recently inaugurated ‘Operation Delta Hawk’, a joint task force with the mandate to take the fight to these criminals, be they bandits, kidnappers or gun-totting cattle herders.” Okowa said.
Apostle Okorote said it was imperative that Christians should continue to pray for the peace, security and progress of the nation.
“It is not news any more that there’s terrorism and wholesome kidnapping in the country and it has even extended to our state, though not so severe. If you watch, all of us have heard severally, pastors being kidnapped and killed, before they start burning churches in Delta, we want to make sure that the clergy knows a little bit of what to do to prevent that. The bible says watch and pray, it didn’t say pray only, that’s the essence of it. We are being proactive. We want to make sure that we are equipped spiritually and otherwise so we can prevent it from happening.”
Keynote speaker and chairman of CAN in Kaduna State, Revd. Joseph Hayab, said it was important to establish that there was a security challenge in Nigeria and that the nation genuinely found ways to tackle it.
“I have been talking about kidnapping, payment of ransom and sometimes killing of pastors in parts of the country especially Kaduna State. The situation may not be same here, but how can we stop the killings and kidnappings to ensure that our worship centres are secured,” he said.