Yenagoa / Osogbo / Ibadan / Lokoja / Uyo / Bauchi / Lagos – Catholic bishops on Tuesday asked Nigerians to rise above religious, political and ethnic divides to save the country from drifting into anarchy. They also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise the security and welfare of the country’s citizens as hundreds of thousands of Catholics carried out peaceful protests across the country over frequent killings of Christians by herdsmen.
They said these during their sermon at the requiem mass for two slain Catholic priests, Rev Frs. Felix Tyolaha and Joseph Gor, and lay faithful in Ayar Mbalon village, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.
The two priests and 17 worshippers were killed when Fulani herdsmen invaded St. Ignatius Quasi Parish, Ukpor-Mbalom in Ayar-Mbalom community of Gwer East LGA on Tuesday, April 24.
At the burial of the two priests at Ayati, a small agrarian hilly village in the outskirts of Ikpayongo in Gwer East Local Government Council of Benue State, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, the Cardinal of the Abuja Catholic Diocese, said the killings across the country must stop and called on well-meaning Nigerians to unite in fighting the great evil that had befallen the country.
The cleric warned, “This must not be politicised. The nation is in a state of emergency. We demand for synergy; division, especially on tribal lines, will only throw our nation to anarchy.”
He called on the Federal Government to act decisively to end the spate of killings across the country.
The cardinal called on the people to be vigilant and be their brother’s keeper.
He warned that if murderers are allowed to continue killing without checkmating them it will come to a time when people will begin to use other means of self defence.
Earlier, the Bishop of Makurdi Diocese, Most Rev. Wilfred Anagbe, said the decision to bury the victims of Saint Ignatius Parish, Mbalom at the ‘Se Sugh Maria Pilgrimage Centre, Ayati, was to honor them as martyrs of the church.
He said the barbaric acts perpetrated against the victims would attract the wrath of God and lamented the act of desecrating the church of God.
“If our places of worship are no longer safe, then where can we run to in this country,” Anagbe queried.
Fish Out Killers— Martins
In Lagos, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, urged President Buhari to direct security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of callous killings
“People today feel a sense of helplessness and hopelessness in their homes especially when signals they are getting is that they do not have enough personnel to secure every inch of this nation.
“We ought to have intelligence agencies that will act to prevent attacks and to nip the attack in the bud.”
Buhari Should Heed The Cry Of Nigerians For Peace, Justice, Says Ogbebor
In Bayelsa, hundreds of members of the Catholic Church in Bomadi Diocese carried out a peaceful protest in Yenagoa.
Bishop of the Bomadi Diocese, Archbishop Hyacinth Ogbebor, led the protest with full participation by other priests in the diocese.
The placard-carrying Catholics sang ‘Ave Maria’ and marched from the Amarata Parish to the gate of the Bayelsa State Government House located in Onopa area of the state capital.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: ‘Life Is Sacred’, ‘FG Act on the Killings’, ‘Enough is Enough’, ‘Stop the Killings or Resign’, ‘Why Value Cows more than Humans’, ‘We Demand Good Governance’, among others.
At the Government House gate, they continued with the singing of ‘Ave Maria’ until three officials of the Governor Seriake Dickson-led administration, Jonathan Obuebite, Commissioner for Education; Samuel John-Peters, Special Adviser on Religious Matter; and Boma Spero-Jack, Special Adviser on Security Matters, came out to receive them.
In their letter of protest addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari through Governor Dickson, Bishop Ogbebor decried “the outright loss and diminishing of the integrity of life in Nigeria through the incessant brutal killing of innocent citizens”.
He urged President Buhari to heed the cry of Nigerians for peace and justice.
Christians Should Pray Against This Evil— Mamza
Catholic Diocese of Yola on Tuesday held mass and rosary procession for victims of violent killings across the country.
The Bishop of Yola Diocese, Most Rev. Stephen Mamza, during the procession, urged government to do more on security to end the killings, particularly in Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Borno and Zamfara states.
Mamza said “the demonstration and mass taking place today is for all; Christians, Muslims and traditionalists. Life is gift from God and life is sacred.
“I call on Christians to pray against this evil that is trying to consume us.”
Country Flows With Human Blood Instead Of Honey— Ajayi
The Diocese of Osogbo Catholic Church on Tuesday staged protest over incessant bloodletting in some parts of the country, calling on the Federal Government to take decisive measures to nip the act in the bud.
Armed with rosaries, bibles and placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Enough is Enough’, ‘Stop Incessant Killings Now’, ‘Embrace the Culture of Life, not that of Killing’, ‘FG should bring Killer Herdsmen to Justice,’ among others, the church members demanded for immediate stoppage to the killings, noting that “Nigeria now flows with blood instead of the honey it is known for.”
The Catholic faithful who dressed in their various church uniforms had converged at Jaleyemi area and marched to the popular Olaiya junction before proceeding to the Osun State House of Assembly where a statement of concerns was presented to the Speaker, Najeem Salaam.
The Bishop of Osogbo Diocese, Most Rev. John Oyejola, while addressing journalists specifically condemned the murder of the two Catholic priests, Rev. Fr. Joseph Gor and Fr. Felix Tyolaha as well as 17 other Catholic faithful by a gang of terrorists.
Speaking on behalf of the bishop, the Vicar General of the diocese, Very Rev. Fr. Thaddeus Ajayi, said the country now flows with human blood instead of honey.
Ibadan Catholic Archdiocese Calls On FG To Protect Lives
The Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan on Tuesday appealed to the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility of providing security and safety for every Nigerian.
Members of the archdiocese joined Catholics nationwide and took to the streets of Ibadan to protest the continued killings in parts of the country.
The walk, which started from Saints Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bodija, took the protesters to the Oyo Governor’s Office, Agodi.
The protesters were singing, praying and carrying placards bearing different inscriptions such as ‘All Nigerians Should be Safe in their Country’, ‘Catholics say Enough of Innocent Killings’, ‘Nigeria Arise for Justice’, among others.
Archbishop Gabriel Abegunrin who led the protest called on the leadership of the country to as a matter of urgency act to put a stop to the incessant killings.
Olorunmolu Asks Politicians To Avoid Playing Politics With Human Lives
Members of the Catholic Diocese of Lokoja defied the heavy downpour as they staged procession across the town.
Members, who gathered at the Bishop’s Court, near Government House, Lokoja, as early as 8.00a.m went through major streets in the state capital reciting their rosary while offering prayers.
The Bishop of Lokoja Diocese, Martins Olorunmolu, while addressing the faithful said there was too much blood shed in the nation and called on the Federal Government to do something urgently to address the situation.
He said a country where Christians can no longer worship their God freely for fear of attacks and killings was a serious threat to the peaceful coexistence of such nation and called on politicians to avoid playing politics with human lives.
Govt Must Wake Up To Its Responsibilities, Says Ayah
Catholic faithful in Uyo protested the killing of two Catholic priests and 17 worshipers recently in Benue.
Some of the placards carried by the protesters read: ‘No weapon fashioned against Christians shall prosper’, ‘Say no to terrorism in places of worship’, ‘Christians’ lives matter’, ‘Live and lets live’, among others.
Bishop of Uyo Diocese, Rev. Dr. John Ayah, said that Catholics would not take up arms against Fulani herdsmen in the face of recent attacks against worshippers and priests.
Ayah said that they would continue to depend on security agencies of government for the protection of their members, especially during church programmes.
“The killings have become too many. The church is ‘arm less’ so, we will continue to depend on security provided by government.
“If the government provides sufficient security, then there will be no point carrying guns around to protect Christians.
“So we are telling governments to wake up to their responsibilities of providing adequate security to the citizens.”
In his remark, the Vicar General in charge of administration for the Diocese, Rev. Fr Donatus Udoette, said that government’s responsibility was to provide adequate security for its citizens.
Church Holds Solidarity Mass, Procession In Enugu
The Catholic Diocese of Enugu on Tuesday held a special solidarity mass and peaceful solemn procession for people killed by militias, especially those killed at a Catholic Church in Benue.
The mass was held by thousands of Catholic faithful at the Holy Ghost Catholic Cathedral, Ogui, Enugu.
The faithful and clergy within the diocese, after the mass that lasted for over an hour, also had a peaceful solemn procession within the vast Holy Ghost Catholic Cathedral compound for about two hours.
The faithful had the solemn procession while praying with the rosary as well as calling for God’s intervention in the country’s security situation.
Speaking at the end of the procession, Bishop Callistus Onaga, said that the mass and solemn procession was in solidarity with Christians who had died due to activities of militia groups in the country.
Onaga, who was represented by the Vicar General of the Diocese, Monsignor Luke Adike, said that it was regrettable that the perpetrators of the killings could not be arrested and prosecuted, especially those that killed innocent worshippers and their priests in Benue State.
“What is the essence of government and living under a government if not for government to shoulder the responsibility of security for everybody?”
End These Killings, Says Uzoukwu
Bishop of Minna Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Martins Uzoukwu, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency end the killings in parts of the country as it is a big minus for the present administration and the entire security apparatus.
Uzoukwu urged President Buhari to prevail on the service chiefs to stop toying with the lives of Nigerian Christians by ending the ongoing killings in parts of the country or step aside because “we all voted to be protected and not to be slaughtered like animals on a daily basis.
“When will this barbarism end? Uzoukwu queried as he addressed protesters at St. Michael’s Cathedral Church, Minna, on Tuesday after they had peacefully protested against the killings of the Catholic priests and worshippers in Benue and other parts of the country.
Killings Callous, Wicked, Evil— Lange
Vicar General of St John Catholic Cathedral, Bauchi, Rev. Fr. Bitrus Lange, described the killing of the two priests and parishioners as wicked and evil.
He stated this in Bauchi on Tuesday while speaking to journalists shortly after the peaceful protest staged by Catholic faithful in the state who joined other Catholics across the country to stage a peaceful protest over the recent killings by herdsmen.
The peaceful protest which was done at the Bauchi Catholic Cathedral had the faithful go round the Cathedral in prayers for the repose of the souls of the deceased.
Rev. Fr. Bitrus Lange said the prayers offered and the protest was in solidarity with the Makurdi Diocese which was burying their two priests and 17 worshippers.
The peaceful protest was also held in Umuahia, Benin, Owerri, Abuja and other cities.
The peaceful and prayerful protest is in compliance with the directive of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), which is tagged ‘March for Life’.
Killers Of Priests, Others In Benue Will Be Brought To Justice — Osinbajo
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has assured the people of Benue that the killers of the two Catholic priests and 17 parishioners during a church service at Saint Ignatius Parish, Mbalom, will not go unpunished.
Osinbajo gave the assurance on Tuesday at Ayati, a small hilltop village situated on the outskirts of Ikpayongo, in Gwer East Local Government Council, during the burial of the victims of the April 24 church attack.
The vice president, who was accompanied on the trip by ministers, top ranking politicians of different political shades, expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to end the attacks.
He said the perpetrators of such dastardly and heinous crimes do not deserve to live amongst decent people but prayed for the conversion of their souls.
Also in a speech, Governor Samuel Ortom condemned the incessant attacks on communities in the state but commended the Federal Government for is efforts to stop the killings.
He disclosed that 492 people had died from herdsmen attacks since the beginning of the year.
The governor regretted the attacks on the church and wondered the reason for the attacks, saying, “These people were in the church and not on their farms”.
He called on the Federal Government to arrest the killer-herdsmen, saying, “We know our killers but they are not arrested or invited for interrogation; they gave statement at several fora that they would reclaim their land.”
The governor said the Anti-Open Grazing law passed by the state Assembly and accented by him, was the best way in curbing incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
On his part the Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Prof James Ayatse, placed curse on the perpetrators of the dastardly acts, saying, “They will not see good times”.
The post Catholics Protest Killings:Nigeria Drifting Into Anarchy — Bishops appeared first on Independent Newspapers Nigeria.
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Author: Igoniko Oduma; Gbenga Faturoti; Tolu Iyiade,Atabor Julius,Gbenga Abegunrin,Idongesit Ashameri,Patience Ogbodo-Iwuagwu,Tor Vande-Acka,Chinyere Abiaziem, Innocent Anoruo