Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer, RCCG, led the prayer walk against increasing insecurity in the country.
  • CAN, Redeemed Church join

By OLUSESAN LAOYE

The protests against the killings of innocent Nigerians, especially Christians in the country ordered by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have spread with many churches joining in the protest.

It would be recalled that CAN had last month called on all Christians across the country to embark on a prayer walk on February 2 to protest the gruesome killing of the CAN Chairman in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, by Boko Haram terrorists and other Christian faithful.

CAN President, Dr Samson Ayokunle, while speaking in Abuja, said the walk was aimed at rendering prayers for the country to overcome the criminals troubling Nigeria.

He said that it would be difficult to believe that the government under the present administration was not colluding with insurgents to exterminate Christians in Nigeria.

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to overhaul the security apparatus in the country with a view to improving the safety of Nigerians. Ayokunle asked government to label Miyetti Allah a terrorist organisation.

“Government should order the arrest of the leadership of the Miyetti Allah for sponsoring and perpetuating crime of Nigeria and prosecute them for all the killings in Southern Kaduna, Benue, Plateau and Taraba states, among others.

“Also, government should publish names of all kingpins of the terrorists in detention and those who are being prosecuted.”

Meanwhile, in adherence to CAN’s call, many churches, including the Catholic Church, Anglican Church and the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) mandated their members to observe the protest.

The General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor E. A. Adeboye, had last Friday thrown his weight behind the three-day fasting and prayer declaration for Nigeria by the leadership of CAN.

In a memo titled “Call for Prayers and Advocacy by the Christian Association of Nigeria,” released from the office of the Assistant General Overseer (Admin and Personnel), RCCG, Pastor Adeboye, the church enjoined all members and parishes in the church to fast and pray for Nigeria.

“The Christian Association of Nigeria, the umbrella body for all Christians and Christian organisations in Nigeria, has made a clarion call for prayers and advocacy to all Christians in Nigeria in response to the inhumane acts against Christians in the country,” the memo read.

“The General Overseer has therefore directed that all members of RCCG should participate in this prayer and advocacy, with details here under:

“Prayer and fasting scheduled from Friday 31st January to Sunday 2nd February 2020. Since RCCG is currently on a fasting and prayer programme, the prayer focus within this period should be against the gruesome killings of innocent people in the country and prayer for the government to develop capacity to overcome the criminals troubling the nation.

“Special prayers walk on Sunday 2nd February 2020. All parishes of RCCG are enjoined to close the thanksgiving service early on Sunday (latest by 11am), and have members match round their immediate environment praying for God’s intervention in the ongoing situation in Nigeria.

“Parishes with functional social media handles are enjoined to publicise this prayer and advocacy, using appropriate captions and hashtags.

“The action is also to pray for “the government to develop capacity to overcome the criminals troubling the nation.

“Consequently, all parishes of the church have been enjoined to end their service not later than 11am on Sunday to enable members “march round their immediate environment, praying for God’s intervention in the ongoing situation in Nigeria.”

On Sunday, millions of Christians protested against the perennial killings of members in the country. The protests, which took place in several states of the federation, was replicated in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with hundreds of faithful who gathered at the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja, expressing their disgust over the many lives lost to attacks by bandits, herdsmen, and Boko Haram insurgents.

Worshippers wore T-shirts with imprints of some prominent Christians who were brutally murdered. They accused the government of not doing enough to protect lives of people of the country.

CAN President, Reverend Sampson Supo Ayokunle, say this was a trying time for the church in Nigeria and urged all Christians to join hands in praying for the deliverance, freedom and liberty from the self-inflicted bondage.

“Buhari’s government should not fold its arms and watch misguided Nigerians, mostly Boko Haram and herdsmen, promote killing as a pastime in the name of politics and ethnicity while solution appears very elusive.

“It 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,” the CAN president said.

The killing of Christians in Nigeria especially in the Northern parts of the country has heightened the fear and apprehension amongst the Christian faith in the country over the safety of their lives and properties. It has also escalated the issue of religious hostility between Muslims and Christians, which has been sustained by the ongoing Islamic insurgency in the north east and rampage of herdsmen.

In the past year, there have been killings targeted at Christians, which has raised concern in both Christian and international quarters. About nine aid workers were abducted last year and six of them, who were Christians, were killed. There is also case of Leah Shauibu who was abducted alongside 128 Dapchi girls, which remains unresolved two after the other girls were released.

What has also heightened the fear of majority of Christians across the country is the impunity with which they are maimed, massacred and humiliated. But matter came to head last week when the news filtered in that the Can chairman in Adamawa state, who had been kidnapped since two weeks has been beheaded by the insurgent group Boko Haram.

The gory murder of the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Rev. Lawan Andini CAN chairman, in Michikah local governments in Adamawa over ransom has now heightened tension and anger among Christians and other allied associations to cry out that enough is enough and to criticise the Federal government for its alleged failure to act or apprehend culprits over the years.

The Rev. was abducted, and a ransom of 2 million pounds was demanded for his release. It was said that the Boko Haram militia beheaded him after rejecting the N50 million which they struggled to raise.

Bishop Steven Dani Manza in Adamawa state who broke the news, said Rev. Andini in their captivity pleaded but the militia insisted on 2 million pounds, which they could not raise  and beheaded him along with a Nigerian soldier.

The killing of Andini was just one out the several that had taken place since the insurgency of Boko Haram and other militants sprang up in the North particularly the North East. Over 15,000 Christians in the North were killed between 2015 and 2019 in attacks targeted at Christian communities by insurgents and bandits, a coalition of Christians under the aegis of Ecumenical Youths Association, has said.

On Friday, the CAN leadership addressed a press conference to inform Nigerians and the international community of the fate of Christians in this government and the position of the Christians body to ensure religious equity and balance. The speech was read by CAN President, Dr. Samson Ayokunle.

According to him, Rev. Lawan Andimi, was killed because he refused to be converted to Islam. Although, the group initially demanded for the sum of N50m and, when against all odds, the ransom was ready, they asked for €2m.

“It was in the process that they reached out to our people in Adamawa State to notify them that since the gentleman had refused to be converted to Islam, they had decided to behead him. And that was what they did. In the same state, just last Sunday, a clergyman, Rev Denis Bagauri was murdered by unknown gunmen in his residence at Mayo Belwa of Adamawa State, all because he was a Christian. You are also aware of the beheading of 11 Christians by Islamic State in West Africa on Christmas Day of 2019 in Maiduguri including a bride to be.

“Few days ago, four seminarians of the Good Shepherd Catholic Seminary in Kakau, were kidnapped along Kaduna-Abuja Road and we have not heard anything about them. In Kaduna State, the most recent happenings were those of 35 people killed and abduction of 58 persons when bandits raided 10 communities in the Chikun and Birnin Gwari Local Government areas on January 13, 2020…Whoever claims to be a Christian is either killed on the spot or abducted and a demand for a ransom issued”.