Kaigama Blames Attacks on Priests on Religious Fanaticism, Ethnic Bigotry
*Christians begin week-long prayer sessions
*PFN condemns Reverend Father’s killing, tasks govt, security agencies to protect Nigerians
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The Catholic Archbishop of the Abuja Metropolitan Archdiocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama has attributed the orgy of violence meted out on innocent citizens in the country, particularly the incessant attacks and killing of clergymen to religious fanaticism and ethnic bigotry.
With a few weeks to the general election, the Archbishop enjoined Nigerians to offer prayers to God to grant the country a peaceful election.
While presenting his Sunday Homily at the St. Michael’s Parish, Kagini, in Abuja, Kaigama bemoaned the violence being perpetrated in the country, most of which he said had their perpetrators go scot free.
“Our crisis is incubated in religious fanaticism and ethnic bigotry, hatching grievous social disorder, whereby priests are killed in the most barbaric manner and citizens attacked, kidnapped or killed on a regular basis, and yet, perpetrators of such devilish acts are never identified and dealt with as a deterrent to others,” he said.
Speaking on the forthcoming general election, Kaigama said there was need for communal prayers to solicit for God’s mercy to the nation.
“We need to come together to pray for one another and for our nation as the general elections draw nearer; and to remind ourselves to continue to radiate the light and goodness of Christ,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop said Christians have commenced a week long prayer yesterday in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for Christian unity.
According to Kaigama, “This Sunday in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) we begin the week-long “Prayer for Christian Unity,” with the theme: “Do Good; Seek Justice” (Isaiah 1:17).
“Our prayer intention is the unity among Christians in line with the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21, “that they may all be one”.
Following the tradition which I had initiated while I was the Plateau State Chairman of CAN, and which I encouraged upon my arrival in the FCT, we started to move from church to church of the different denominations to celebrate the week of prayer for Christian unity.”
He said the exercise had been successful so far, but needed more participation by all Christians in the FCT.
He said the schedule for 2023 commenced yesterday at the National Christian Centre, adding that it would continue today, at the Holy Rosary, Catholic Church, Wuse Zone 2.
On Tuesday, the prayer session would take place at ECWA Wuse 2, Blantyre Crescent, while another session would hold at Christ Holy Int’l Area 1 (OAIC).
The schedule of activities also includes prayer sessions at All Christian Fellowship Mission, Maitama (CPCN/PFN Bloc) on Friday, Basilica of Grace, Gudu, Anglican Girls Grammar School Compound (CCN) on Saturday and finally at the National Christian Centre next Sunday in Abuja.
In a related development, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria(PFN), yesterday condemned what it described as the abominable killing of the Kafin Koro Deanery of the Minna Diocese of Niger State and Reverend Father in charge of St Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Kafin Koro, Rev. Isaac Achi.
This was just as it urged government and security agencies to be alive to the responsibility of protecting the citizenry.
The PFN in a statement by its National President, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, expressed great sorrow over the killing of the Catholic Priest.
Oke said: “I am deeply saddened and outraged by the recent burning to death by bandits of Rev. Father Isaac Achi. This is just one out of many senseless and dastard killings that have characterised Nigeria today.
“Many Christians have become victims of violence in the nation and this has earned her the reputation of being one of the most dangerous places to live for Christians. These heinous acts of violence have no place in any society and they are an affront to the sanctity of human life and the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
He extended his heartfelt condolence to the victims’ families and the entire Christian Community in Niger State and Nigeria as a whole, calling on all Christians regardless of denomination to unite in condemning the acts of violence and to pray for an end to the senseless killings and terror that are plaguing our nation.
The cleric also called on the government and law enforcement agencies to live up to their responsibility of providing security for all citizens and ridding the country of bandits and terrorists.
“It is the duty of the government to ensure the safety and well-being of all citizens, and the killing of Rev. Father Isaac Achi is unacceptable. Innocent lives are being lost due to the failure of our government to stem the spate of violence, kidnappings, and terrorism across the country. The government has failed in its duty to protect the people and it is time for them to take action,” he said.
Oke maintained that even in the face of persecution, the church’s work will not cease, stating that, “We will not be deterred by these unprecedented evil acts and we will continue to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ which is the gospel of love to all.”
He then implored all followers of Jesus Christ in Nigeria to stand together in the face of this evil and work in unity towards a peaceful and just society as together, insisting that Christians shall overcome the hate and violence that seeks to divide them.