Christians across the country on Sunday heeded the call by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and staged prayer walks round their churches to end killings in the nation.
At the Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan where the CAN President, Reverend Supo Ayokunle, worshipped, the rally held around 12.30pm.
Ayokunle said the attacks were targeted at Christians and urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to rise up to his responsibility of protecting Nigerians, irrespective of their religions.
He said, “Our President should rise up and up his game. If the attack is not religious don’t let there be attacks on Christians again. The killing of the young man going to Maiduguri is still fresh in our minds. When they were killing him, they said it in Hausa or Arabic that it was because he was a Christian.
“The killing of the CAN chairman was because he was a Christian; they rejected ransom. The incarceration of Leah Shuaribu was because she is a Christian and she refused to convert to Islam. Boko Haram didn’t mince words; Abubakar said he was out to plant Sharia from the North to the South. So why are you saying it is not religious? Nigerians be hopeful; your God will fight for you.”
Recently, terrorists have attacked Christians, including the CAN Chairman in the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Lawan Andimi, and a student of the University of Maiduguri, Ropvil Dalyep, who were killed by the Boko Haram insurgents.
CAN on Thursday directed Christians to begin a three-day prayer and fasting on Friday to save Nigeria and Christians in particular from being consumed by insurgents, Islamic terrorists, bandits and kidnappers.
Ayokunle, who gave the directive in a statement, said if possible, churches should meet in the evening of each day of fasting to pray together.
He said on Sunday, there should be prayer walk around the locality of each church with Christians pronouncing ‘Jesus, the Prince of Peace as Lord’ and displaying placards with the inscription, ‘No to further killings.’
In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital and other principal towns in the state, peaceful rallies were held within the premises of churches.
At the Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan, hundreds of worshippers sang, ‘The church is matching on; the gate of hell shall not prevail,’ as they marched round the expansive church premises with the CAN president and other principal officers of the church bearing banners with inscriptions such as ‘Stop persecuting Christians,’ ‘Jesus is Lord,’ ‘We support the Christian Association of Nigeria,’ and ‘Stop the killing of Christians.’
At Victory International Church, Gethsemane Prayer Ministries, Anglican Church, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Winners Chapel and many other churches, special prayers were said against the persecution of Christians.
The CAN president urged the international community to wade into the plight of Christians in Nigeria as they intervened in cases of Syria, Iraq and other nations of the world where killings and human rights’ violations were rife.
Ayokunle said, “My message, first of all to the Nigerian government, is to urge the administration to up their game on the issue of security. They said they were trying, but their best is not the best because daily, bloodshed is happening. We cannot be playing politics with the lives of men and women. They have the right to live, and when they are dying we cannot keep quiet.”
He said Nigerians were tired of bloodshed, adding, “If you politicians are playing politics, we in the Church cannot play politics. The moment we don’t see bloodshed again, we in the Church will begin to commend you.”
Earlier in a sermon on unity, the Pastor in charge, Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan, Reverend Remi Awopegba, said “injury to one is injury to all.”
The Benue State chapter of CAN held prayer session and later protested in Makurdi, the state capital.
The state chairman of CAN, Reverend Akpe Leva, who led the protest, drew the attention of government to the rising spate of killings across the country.
He said there were so many killings and kidnappings in the country noting that Nigerians were conducting mass burials than marriages which he said was unhealthy to the nation.
Leva said, “The gruesome killing of the CAN Chairman in the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Lawan Andimi, by Boko Haram terrorists is worrisome. There are killings in Southern Kaduna, Benue, Plateau and Taraba states, Adamawa among others.
In Taraba State, the CAN Chairman, Rev. Isaiah Jirapye, urged the Federal Government to send all herdsmen brought to Nigeria from other African countries back to their countries.
Addressing a congregation at the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Cathedral of The Living Spring, Isale-Aro, Osogbo, Chairman, Osun CAN Strategic Committee, Rev. Jacob Asani, called on Christians to pray against bloodletting, saying divine intervention would end the killings.
In Ekiti State, CAN Chairman, Rev. Fr. Peter Olowolafe, lamented the killing of Christians in the country, including Andimi’s murder in Adamawa State.
The CAN chairman, while leading placard-carrying members on a protest over the killings in Ado Ekiti said, “The situation is unbearable. Christians in this area decided to join others in the country to embark on the peaceful protest in order to express their grievances about the killings in the country.”
The peaceful protest, which began at about 2pm from the Ori Apata office of the association located at Adebayo area of Ado-Ekiti and terminated at Fajuyi Park in the capital city, was monitored by men of the police and officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps among others.
Also, Christians in Imo State on Sunday joined their counterparts across the country to protest against the rising insecurity in the country.
At King’s Court Mega Tabernacle Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God at Orji in Owerri, the pastor-in-charge, Maxwell Anozie, led a prayer against the insecurity in the country.
CAN in the 17 southern states on Sunday also condemned the unabated shedding of blood of Christians in Nigeria, saying that it was no longer acceptable to the Christian community.
The Secretary of the group, Dr Joseph Ajujungwa, who spoke to one of our correspondents shortly after the prayer session to end the three-day praying and fasting, expressed optimism that God would intervene and change the heart of Nigerian leaders.
Also, the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, on Sunday led a protest against insecurity and killings in Nigeria.
Adeboye, at the end of the church’s monthly Thanksgiving Service at its national headquarters in Ebute Meta, Lagos State, led the protest from Ebute Meta through Atan Cemetery in Yaba and back.
Prior to the walk, Adeboye led his congregation in prayers for the peace and security of the country saying, “Lord, have mercy on Nigeria. Let there be peace and security in Nigeria. We pray that God send His light to Nigeria and expose the evildoers in the country.”
Adeboye, who had instructed all members of his church across Nigeria to embark on the protest, said, “The prayer walk is aimed at offering prayers and supplications unto God to save Nigeria from being consumed by insurgents, terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, militants and ritualists in all our states.”
The cleric and other members displayed placards which read, ‘No to further killings,’ ‘Federal and state governments should rise up to their civic responsibility,’ and ‘The security infrastructure in our nation should be overhauled,’ among others.
Earlier during the service, Adeboye said every soul lost to insurgency was precious to God, whether a Christian or a Muslim.
“Every soul is precious to God whether a Christian or a Muslim. Father, we declare no more death of the innocent in Nigeria,” he added.
In Lagos, the state Chairman of CAN, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, condemned the killing of Christians, saying the Church could not continue to be silent.
He called on the leadership of the country to swiftly put a stop to the attacks on innocent Nigerians all over the country.
Bamgbola spoke at Yaba, Lagos, at the close of a three-day fasting and prayer programme organised for the preservation of Nigeria.
The CAN leadership also took a prayer walk around Yaba and its environs.
Bamgbola said, “We need to tell the leadership of Nigeria that Christians are no longer comfortable with the killings of our brethren. Enough is enough of the killing of Christians in Nigeria; we can no longer keep calm. Evil has taken over the land with great bloodshed; Nigeria is becoming a reproach and Christians are being persecuted with immense reproach.”
However, the Delta State chapter of CAN on Sunday in Asaba urged the South-South governors to set up security outfit to stop the killings across the zone.
The protesters led by the state CAN Chairman, Senior Apostle Sylvanus Okorote, walked from association’s secretariat through Nnebisi Road along Ogbogonogo Market to Asaba Arcade where prayers were offered for Nigeria.
The CAN chairman said, “South-South needs its own security outfit now, we call on our governors to meet and set this outfit now before it is too late.
“These killers will not go to the South-West again, they will be targeting this zone now, so to avert the impending killings in our zone, governors should do something urgently.”
Reacting on the protest, Senator Shehu Sani commended General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, over his demonstration against killings and the rising spate of insecurity in Nigeria.
Shehu Sani said Adeboye had finally disembarked from the fence of caution and neutrality.
“Pastor Adeboye finally disembarking from the fence of caution, moderation, and neutrality and leading a match against insecurity is commendable.
“Protest gives wings and wheels to Prayers,” Shehu Sani wrote on Twitter. – Additional report from Punch.