…As Catholics Bury Slain Priests, Parishioners Amidst Country-Wide Protests
- ‘This Must Not Be Politicized’, Says Onaiyekan …Osinbajo, Ministers Attend Funeral
- ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ Will Stem Tide, Buhari Promises
By ‘Dotun Akintomide
Following the phenomenal spate of killings in the country, predominantly in remote communities and flash zones, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari “to suspend his re-election bid until he restores sanity to the country.”
The Christian body stated this on Tuesday, while commiserating with the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) as it conducts mass burial for the two priests and 17 parishioners killed by the Fulani herdsmen in Benue State recently.
Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant on media to CAN President, Rev Dr Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, in a statement described the present moment in Nigeria as a trying time for the church.
“We also urge all Christians to identify with the Catholic Church in its nationwide peaceful protest against senseless killings in Nigeria”, it noted.
CAN asked the Nigerian security agencies to rise up to the security challenges in the country.
It expressed dismay that killing of innocent was assuming global embarrassment with mass burial being carried out at all times without a country like Nigeria fighting a war.
The statement added: “CAN calls on President Muhammadu Buhari not to forget his 2015 campaign promises including fighting insecurity and keeping Nigeria united and upon which Nigerians overwhelmingly voted for him.
“Buhari’s government should not fold arms and watch misguided Nigerians, mostly Boko Haram and herdsmen promote killing as a past time in the name of politics and ethnics while solution appears very elusive.
“CAN is disheartening to note that criminal Fulani herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers and other hoodlums have reduced Nigeria to a Banana Republic.
“This development is unacceptable and we call on all well meaning people anywhere in the world to join hands in praying for the deliverance, freedom and liberty from this self inflicted bondage.
“CAN asks President Buhari to suspend his re-election bid until he restores sanity to the country while ensuring the release of Leah Sharibu, the remaining Chibok girls and other abductees from the captivity of the Boko Haram terrorists.”
This follows as the members of the Catholic Church in Nigeria prayerfully protested the killings across the country to drive home their displeasure on how the federal government has so far handled the farmers-herders crisis among other security concerns in the nation.
On his own part, the Cardinal of the Abuja Catholic Diocese, John Onaiyekan 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.
Onaiyekan handed down the advice during a sermon for the burial of two catholic priests; Rev Frs. Felix Tyolaha and Joseph Gor, at Ayati, a small agrarian hilly village in the outskirts of Ikpayongo in Gwer East local Government Council of Benue state.
The cleric warned: “This must not be politicized. The nation is in a state of emergency. We demand for synergy; division, especially on tribal lines will only throw our nation to anarchy.”
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 said.
He expressed optimism that their blood would restore peace and end the killings in the state and across the country.
According to NAN, amidst water tight security, sympathizers, mostly Catholics, dressed in their societal attires besieged the Ayati prayer ground as early as 7a.m to secure seats for the historic event.
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo attended the funeral in company of the minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi and the foreign affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama.
President Muhammadu Buhari, while expressing confidence in ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ recently launched in four states of Benue, Taraba, Nassarawa and Zamfara to put a stop to the killings, called for calm and order.
“We must not allow anyone to stoke religious conflict and plunge our communities into blood-letting,” Buhari tweeted.
See Osinbajo and Buhari tweets
With the VP Osinbajo at the funeral are the Ministers of Transport and Foreign Affairs Amaechi & Onyeama. The VP adds: "We can ensure justice… by apprehending & punishing their assailants. We must rebuild places that have been damaged & heal wounds that have been caused."
— Laolu Akande (@akandeoj) May 22, 2018
We must not allow anyone to stoke religious conflict and plunge our communities into bloodletting. On our part as your Government we will continue to do everything in our power to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, and ensure peace and harmony in the country. pic.twitter.com/RxgLA7nNgX
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) May 22, 2018