Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
They went straight to the barb wire fencing the portion of land having plants that have grown to become thicket, held it and muttered some words.
Though one could not hear what they were saying, but it was obvious that they were praying and pouring their hearts and supplications to God just like the biblical Hannah did in Shiloh.
This was the portion of land where Vivian Ogu was killed and her corpse dumped by the daredevil armed robbers who invaded their home on November 15, 2009. The land has been demarcated and consecrated to be a holy ground where those seeking for spiritual help have to turn to.
At the front of the thicket, lies a grotto with her picture depicting the true image of a saint. The presence of the grotto has eventually turned the Ekae community, Kilometer 6, Sapele Road, Benin, Edo State, to a place where people go for pilgrimage while the number of human and vehicular movements to the area have also increased astronomically in recent times.
Those hitherto not familiar with the quiet community have now taken delight to visit the heroic site just to confirm what they have been told or heard.
Thirty two bishops, 138 priests, 131 reverend sisters, 42 catechists and 2,785 delegates were present on the occasion for the consecration of the grounds on which Vivian Ogu was martyred.
Her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Peter Ogu and their children who were dressed in immaculate white were given seats at the front roll. The dressing pattern distinguished them from other members of the Catholic Church.
Sending the message of hope to the congregation, Most Rev. Denis Chidi Isizoh, took his reading from the book of Roman 8:1-11: “Brethren, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit.
“The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the spirit, if the spirit of God really dwells in you.
“Anyone who does not have the spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his spirit who dwells in you.”
Rev. Fr. Stephen Dumbiri, Director, Vivian Ogu Movement, said the selection of Vivian Ogu as one of the heroes of Christian faith to be celebrated during the extra ordinary missionary month of October, 2019, demonstrated the acknowledgement of the universal church to the significance of the missionary heroism of Vivian Ogu to the mission of the church:
“For the church in Nigeria, the heroic virtues of Vivian Ogu is a testimony to the maturation of the seed of the Christian faith planted through the effort of the missionaries on the Nigerian soil for more than five centuries ago.”
He said one of the significances of Vivian Ogu’s virtues was the campaign for purity and virginity and her martyrdom serves as a reference point in speaking against all forms of sexual immorality, especially prostitution and homosexuality that is plaguing our modern society:
“In a country where our youths continue to fall prey to human trafficking, harvesting and sales of human organs, forced marriage with the excuse of pressure from poverty, the heroic death of Vivian was a missionary tool in encouraging our youths to uphold their human dignity at any cost.
“The presentation of Vivian by the Holy See to the whole world to be emulated and celebrated as a heroic witness of the Christian faith gives us the Church in Nigeria the hope that in no distant time, another saint would be canonised from among us.”
It was really a moment of resonance of the good qualities of life and times of the teenage girl who was murdered on November 15, 2009.
Her good qualities reached the Pope in Rome so much so that his Holiness has to send his representative to the ceremony.
Representative of Pope Francis, Archbishop Guampetno Dal Toso, International President of Pontifical Mission Societies, said Vivian was an example to all christians not only in Nigeria but all over the world.
He said that she showed us how we can live our faith without minding the consequences.
The Pope said he was very happy that we have here in Nigeria this good example of a young woman who gave her life for her fidelity of her faith.
Governor Godwin Obaseki, said Vivian led an exemplary holy life which has become enduring legacy for the present and future generations. He said she died for what she believed in instead of succumbing to the whims and caprices of the armed robbers who shot and killed her for refusing to be raped:
“We are here in memory of the life of a young girl who at the age of 14 paid the supreme price for her refusal to be raped by the armed robbers that robbed her family that fateful night.
“At this juncture, it is my esteemed pleasure to welcome all of you to Benin City on this memorable occasion for the consecration of the grounds on which Vivian Ogu was martyred.
“Believe me, this is the most befitting honour in preserving the memory of untimely and painful death of a heroine who strongly affirmed her belief in the teaching and doctrine of her Christian faith.”
Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, said God has a message which He wants to pass across to the world through her death, stressing that there had been series of similar deaths in the country yet there is no much news about them but Vivian’s case has proven otherwise:
“You must see the hand of God in this. How many times have we been hearing that armed robbers killed people? This is not the first time armed robbers are killing people but this particular case is special.
“It must be because God wants to use her to tell a story that we are so anxious to try to save our lives and in that, like the governor said, in an effort to save our lives, we give in to everything thinking that we are saving our lives whereas Jesus said those who want to save their lives will loose it and those who loose their lives for his sake will gain it.
“The question I ask as we sit down now today is, is Vivian dead?”
Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, the Archbishop Benin Diocese and President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), said Vivian’s death was a clarion call on Christians:
“She preached purity of life and she died protecting that and it is a sign for all young people to practice their faith, she practiced her faith till the end and that is why the church is even promoting her and people like her so that other young people and adults will emulate them and do what they should do.”
Indeed, the ceremony served to reinforce good values and the word of God as recorded in the Bible.