Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah and the leadership of the Catholic Church have again urged the federal government to end the incessant killings of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram, kidnappers and bandits.
While the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze and Secretary, Most Rev. Camillus Umoh, made the call in their message to mark the Ash Wednesday, Kukah spoke during the procession of Catholic faithful in Sokoto to mark the occasion.
According to Kukah, the situation in the country where residents can’t sleep with two eyes closed is worrisome.
“The point we are in the country now no reasonable Nigerian can acquiesce himself,” he said.
He added that Nigeria has bled enough and it is high time those in authorities rose up to their responsibilities.
The cleric explained that many have become widows and orphans and expressed concern that Nigeria is going the way of Rwanda.
He, however, added that with prayers, the problems confronting the country can be surmounted.
“In Nigeria today, people die by religion; you will hear that five Muslims were killed, 10 Christians were killed but what we want is that we want to die as Nigerians,” he stated.
According to him, the essence of the procession is to mourn those massacred by insurgents, kidnappers and bandits, irrespective of their religion and also to pray for the release of Boko Haram captives, especially Leah Sharibu, the abducted Dapchi schoolgirl .
He said the lenten season is a period of soberness and prayer and the church would use the period to pray for peace in the country.
“As Christians, our God answers prayers because He is a living God,” he added.
The procession started from Holy Family Cathedral in Ahmadu Way through Abdullahi Fodio Road, Aliyu Jodi Way and ended at the Cathedral.
On its part, the leadership of the Catholic Church asked the federal government to do something urgently to end the spate of killings, kidnapping and violence in the country.
It said attacks targeted at Christians must be checked by government.
The church also appealed to the international community to immediately come to the aid of the church.
In a message issued on Ash Wednesday entitled: “Prayer and penance for peace and security in our country” as part of the Catholic Church response to the insecurity in country, the bishops said the heinous actions of the Boko Haram insurgents had left many citizens highly traumatised.
In the message issued by Akubeze and Umoh, the church asked the federal government to immediately stop the wave of violence and brutality aimed particularly at Christians.
“The level of insecurity in Nigeria today is such that whether at home or on the road, most Nigerians, in all the parts of the country, live in fear. The repeated barbaric executions of Christians by the Boko Haram insurgents and the incessant cases of kidnapping for ransom linked to the same group and other terrorists have traumatised many citizens.
“That the perpetrators of these heinous crimes make public shows of them on social media and Nigerians do not hear of any arrests or prosecution of the criminals raises grave questions about the ability and willingness of the government to protect the lives of the ordinary Nigerians.
“We also call for the arrest and prosecution of all those behind these senseless killings that sow the dangerous seeds of hate and distrust among the various segments of the Nigerian society,” it said.
The Catholic Church added that without security there can be no peace and without peace, there can be no development or national growth.
“We, therefore, appeal to the government to immediately put a stop to this unprecedented wave of violence and brutality aimed particularly at Christians. We also call for the arrest and prosecution of all those behind these senseless killings that sow the dangerous seeds of hate and distrust among the various segments of the Nigerian society,” the Bishops said.
The Catholics also heeded the directive of the church leadership to wear all black attire at the commencement of this year’s 40-days fasting and prayers to protest the level of insecurity in the land.
At most of the church parishes in Abuja where THISDAY visited yesterday, most of the congregants wore black to the Mass services.