The Burial of seventeen parishioners and two priests took place on Tuesday, 22 May 2018 in Benue state following their massacre a couple weeks ago during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
Following these events, an open letter dated Tuesday, 22 May 2018 was written to President Muhammadu Buhari to address the incessant killings and increasing insecurity in the North Central region of the country by the Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins (on behalf of over three million Catholics in the Lagos Archdiocese. Alongside the letter was the organisation of a peaceful protest by the Catholic Church in various places in Nigeria including Lagos and Abuja.
While the burial took place in Benue, requiem masses held at 10am all over the country in solidarity of those who lost their lives during peaceful worship.
Lack of Justice: The Background
Its no news that the North is home to herdsmen and the Boko Haram but reports indicate that the perpetrators of this occurrence are the Fulani herdsmen. Farmers may not comfortably tend to their livelihood and our places of worship are under constant attack. These herdsmen appear more dangerous than Boko Haram at this point with the government’s failure to provide sufficient security operatives despite the constitution’s adherence to freedom of worship. Southern Kaduna and the North Central region lack justice as the government has made no efforts to render these Fulani herdsmen captive.
Leah Shaibu, one of the kidnapped girls from Dapchi, remains in custody of her captors for refusing to denounce her faith while her peers have been set free and are back with their families. Till this day, her whereabouts remain uncertain. These events have sparked criticism from the public at large of President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda to make Nigerian a wholly Islam nation.
The Urge: Preservation of Life
As Catholics and Christians, our utmost belief is that every human life is sacred and should be preserved irrespective of surrounding circumstances, including this one. In the letter to the President, the Archbishop highlighted that ours is a religion of peace and therefore we shall reman peaceful in our protests while pressing for progress. He further urged that the government take steps to cater for those who have lost their source of income and livelihood as a result of the insurgency.
Its definitely a time to show our patriotism and unite to fix problems in a peaceful manner while hoping that the situation doesn’t lead to a religious war while communities are being annihilated in a manner synonymous to ethnic cleansing.
Practical Christianity: Let’s Pray!
This is no time to flip the channels and shake our heads, its time to make our knees ashy from fervent prayer. Its time for us to unite in more ways than just our regular weekly fellowship; we should seek the intercession of our blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints for the protection of our church and its people. It is important that we pray for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed but also against any attacks and contrary spirits to the unity of the Church. Let’s not lose sight of our final destination but during our journey, seek to carry each other along – physically, spiritually and mentally.
Have you been a victim of any similar crises? Please do not hesitate to reach out to us to share an experience or testimony with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s be one church, one family.
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