Catholics bishops took to the streets on Sunday in Abuja to protest against the serial killings of Nigerians by Boko Haram terrorists and kidnappers.
The protesters, including Catholic faithful, all dressed in black, defied the day’s light showers and proceeded on a peaceful march from the Ecumenical Centre to the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria in Area 3, praying and seeking God’s divine intervention.
They said the protest was on behalf of over the 50 million Catholics and over 100 million Christians in Nigeria.
The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Akubueze, who led the protesters, accused the regime of being insensitive to the plights of victims of insurgency.
Akubueze said Nigerians were tired of the serial claims by the regime that Boko Haram, which had continued to kill innocent Nigerians, had been technically defeated.
He said, “The killing of God’s children is evil; the failure to protect innocent people from the relentless attacks is evil, the lack of prosecution of terrorists is evil, our government’s response to terrorists attack is, for lack of better words, far below average.
“There have been too many mass burials, too many kidnappings of schoolchildren, travellers, invasion of peoples homes, invasion of sacred places like churches, mosques, seminaries.
“We sometimes hear or read of our government sending condolence messages to western countries when there is a terrorist attack which has led to the death of one or two persons.
“We commend the Federal Government for doing this, but we are surprised that in Nigeria, the Federal Government will not even send a condolence messages to families that have suffered fatalities in the hands of Boko Haram. Our President rarely visit or speak to Nigerians when there are terrorists attacks.
“Your silence is sowing and breeding seeds of mistrust and the longer it stays this way, the more you lose those who could have given you the benefit of the doubt. As things stands now, it appears only a few Nigerians can defend you with reasons, only few Nigerians can argue that your silence is not an endorsement of the barbaric actions of the terrorists and criminals.
“We cannot understand why the government’s reaction to the beheading of Rev. Lawan Andimi (Michika LG CAN chairman) has not shown that there is going to be any consequences for those responsible.
“Nigerians are tired of reading of such killings as that of an orphan seminarian who was just 18 years old and of a young wife and mother. Nigerians are tired of hearing of the inexcusable actions of the government in their response to these and many other sad cases.
“As we match, pray and protest today, we want all Catholics in Nigeria not to be hopeless, we want Catholics and other well-meaning patriotic Nigerians to stand together and fight this terrorism.”
Earlier, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Rev. Fr. Ignatius Kaigama, queried the approach of the Federal Government in the fight against insurgency.
Kaigama spoke in his homily delivered during the first meeting of the CBCN of 2020 with the theme, ‘The word of God: A Lamp to my feet and a light to my path,’at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in Abuja.
At the event, Akubeze, in an interview with journalists also called on the Presidency to do its job in the provision of security.
Kaigama called on Nigerians to turn to God to salvage the country from the firm grips of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers.
The cleric also cautioned the government against taking offence when men of God point out its mistakes.
He, however, warned that churches and mosques were not places to rain abuses on government, adding that preachers can pontificate and denounce bad governance, poverty, hardship and insecurity.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, represented by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuke Amaechi, urged Nigerians to pray for government in the present situation.