…demand sack of Service Chiefs
- Christians mourn, protest massacres
- Protesters chase away deputy gov
- Security beefed up in churches
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday told President Muhammadu Buhari to forget re-election in 2019 if the killings going on across the country continue. The umbrella body of all Christians in Nigeria also demanded the removal of service chiefs over their failure to end the killings. Churches across the country staged peaceful protests on Sunday to condemn the spate of killings in the country. CAN President, Dr. Supo Ayokunle, who led church leaders, women, youths, children, choristers and other members of the Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan, Oyo State, to protest killings across the country, noted that the people have lost fate in the service chiefs. The CAN president said that Buhari’s government was at the risk of losing out in the 2019 general elections if it continues to fail in protecting the citizens across the country.
His words: “We have lost fate in the security agencies and they must sack all the security chiefs and replace them with new ones. No more bloodshed. If the bloodshed continues, this administration should forget about 2019. We cannot continue like this.
Enough is enough.” When asked if the protest was a call for revolution in the country, the cleric said: “Well, I don’t know whether it is a revolution or not, but I know it is time to use our vote to say no to a government that cannot protect the citizens.
My advice for the citizens is for them to be up and doing and to be circumspect. They should go and get their voters’ cards and they should be ready to vote out a government that cannot protect them.
“With the protest, what we are saying is that, if they do not address this matter, they should forget about 2019. Whether the president is going to re-contest or not is not my problem; my problem is that he cannot continue to be there while bloodshed continues, while herdsmen continue to decimate communities and none of them is being brought to book. Or how many of them have you heard have been brought to book? If these continue, he should forget about leading this nation any further.”
The protesters lambasted the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government and the security chiefs for their alleged insensitivity in the handling of the herdsmen killings. Many of the worshipper across Oyo State carried placards with inscriptions like: “CAN says no to violent killings;” “FG, stop this wicked act;” “CAN says no to religious killings;” “FG, release Leah Sharibu from captivity;” “Enough of bloodshed in Nigeria, CAN rejects FGN poor handling of insecurity;” “Human beings are more valuable than cattle, protect human beings;” “FG, be sensitive to families that are mourning;”
“No more excuses for mass murder” and “Enough of unlawful killings in the country,” among others. The CAN president said: “We are gathered here united, like Christians all over the country are gathered and united to say capital no to bloodshed in Nigeria. Since 2009, bloodshed has continued. Government after government, administration after administration have been promising us not to fear and go about our business, that they are on top of the situation, but we have seen that they are never on top of it. “Bloodshed has continued. It used to be Boko Haram alone, now herdsmen, especially the Fulani people, have joined them and they have been killing people and decimating communities. “Now they have concentrated on Christian communities, the Middle Belt, which is majority Christians.
They have been killing and maiming and, to cap it all, they have now started going into churches. “In the last one week, they have murdered two priests inside their church while they were conducting Mass and killed the people who came for worship. If we are not safe in the house of God, where else do they want us to be safe?
The Inspector-General of Pooflice is there, doing nothing. We have always been hearing of unknown gunmen. When will these unknown gunmen become known? Are they spirits? Are they not human beings? What of the intelligence service of the security agencies? Why are they inept?” The CAN president urged the troubled communities to stand firm. “They should stand firm and be strong.
They should not be afraid or be cowered. They should speak out the truth to powers, because we all own Nigeria. Christians are not second citizens in this country. We have no country of our own and we are also stakeholders like those in government. We didn’t vote them into power to kill all of us. If they see criminals, they have been given everything by the Nigerian nation to arrest the criminals and bring them to book. No excuse again can avail for lack of performance,” Ayokunle said.
On the call by the Catholic Bishops on President Buhari to step aside, the Nigerian Baptist Conference president said: “I have also told him to sack the service chiefs who cannot perform. What do you want the Catholic Church to say when two of their priests were killed inside the church, not inside anybody’s farm, not when they were running after anybody’s cow, but they went into the church and killed them? Do you want them (Catholic Bishops) to tell such a government to continue? Never. “They must also set Leah Sharibu free.
She is captive of faith. What type of negotiation was the one they did, allowing other students to gain freedom and leaving one behind on the basis of her faith? That has put a burden on this government that they are targeting Christians.
A reasonable negotiator would make sure that such a condition will not be the basis for leaving one of the girls behind. So, Leah Sharibu must not die and she must gain her freedom now. No longer tomorrow.
This government will have blood on its hands if Leah Sharibu is not released with immediate effect, as well as all the Chibok girls who are still in captivity. “What was the magic wand they used to release the Dapchi girls who were predominantly Muslims that they couldn’t use for the Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu? That has put a question mark on the sincerity of this administration and we, the Nigerian Christians, are demanding the freedom of those girls without delay.” Also, members of the Gospel Faith Mission International (GOFAMINT) Church, Akanran Road in the Ona Ara Local Government Area of Oyo State and worshippers at the Abundant Life Baptist Church, Ile Aperin, Ibadan, protested along the road, singing and condemning the killings of innocent people in the country.
They called on the leadership of the country to wake up and put an end to the killings. In Osun State, commercial activities were yesterday paralysed in Osogbo, the state capital, when Baptist churches in the town took to the streets to register their grievances against the on-going killings in the country. The Christians staged a peaceful protest in Osogbo where they charged the Federal Government to speedily address the killings.
The protesters carried placards with different inscriptions that read: “This government should allow peace to reign”, “Free the remaining Chibok Girls”, “These killings must stop”, “Security agencies, be alive to your work” and “Free Leah Sharibu,” among others. Pastor Femi Abiola of Calvary Baptist Church, Osogbo, who led the protesters, said that: “We are calling on our leaders at all levels to arise and do something.
There are cases of killings here and there, innocent Nigerians have been massacred. There should be a stop to these killings.” Also, churches in Kaduna metropolis and environs yesterday staged peaceful protest within their premises in condemnation of the continuous killings in the country.
They also called for the release of Leah Sharibu, the Christian girl among the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe State, who is still with her abductors. CAN Secretary in Kaduna State, Rev. Sunday Ibrahim, told New Telegraph that the protest is aimed at drawing the attention of the world to the plight of Christians in Nigeria, adding that President Buhari should bring the killers to book. Speaking with newsmen after the protest in the church premises, the Undershepherd of the First Baptist Church, Kaduna, Rev. Banjo Ajao, said the protest became necessary to draw the attention of policymakers to unnecessary killings and abductions ravaging the country.
Members of the church were seen with placards with varying inscriptions such as “Enough is enough;” “We demand immediate release of Leah Sharibu” and “Enough of unlawful killings in Nigeria,” among others. In Kano, the state chapter of CAN said it has decided to embark on intense prayers to stop the spate of killings across the country. Rev. Adeolu Samuel, the chairman of the state CAN, stated that there was need for the Federal Government to declare the killers as terrorists and rise against them, while the military should also confront them as such. In Taraba, thousands of Christians went round Jalingo, the state capital, to protest the killings.
The protesters were led by the acting state chairman of CAN, Joseph Amina. The Christian protesters alleged that there is conspiracy of silence from the Federal Government and security agencies over the killings in the country.
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