According to a report by Punch Metro, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria on Thursday bemoaned the spate of killings across the country and resolved to declare a three-day fasting and prayer session as one of the ways of addressing the ugly trend.
The association’s President, Dr Samson Ayokunle, told journalists in Abuja that the prayer and fasting session was aimed at praying to God to end the killings of innocent Nigerians and give the government of the day the capacity to overcome the criminals troubling the nation.
CAN’s position is coming barely four days after Boko Haram murdered Pastor Lawan Andimi on Monday.
Andimi, the Chairman of CAN in Michika Local Government, Adamawa State, was abducted by the insurgents on January 3 and subsequently decapitated despite being offered a N50 million ransom.
Saying Christians have become endangered species in Nigeria, Ayokunle alleged that the terrorists killed Andimi because he refused to be converted to Islam.
He also cited the case of Rev Denis Bagauri, who was murdered by unknown gunmen in his residence at Mayo Belwa of Adamawa State on Sunday, and the beheading of 11 Christians, including a bride-to-be, by the Islamic State in West Africa on Christmas Day of 2019 in Maiduguri, to buttress his point that Christians are mostly targets of the attacks.
He also mentioned the case of four seminarians of the Good Shepherd Catholic Seminary in Kakau who were kidnapped along Kaduna-Abuja Road a few days ago.
He alleged that the criminals who he said were operating everywhere with impunity have been stopping commercial and private vehicles, asking occupants their religion.
According to him, whoever claims to be a Christian is either killed on the spot or abducted and a demand for a ransom issued.
Aside from the three-day prayer session, the CAN President said Christians would also embark on what he called special prayer walk on February 2.
He said the walk would hold in all states of the federation.
He said, “The CAN leadership has declared Friday, January 31 to February 2, 2020 as days for special fasting and prayer for Nigeria in all churches, home and abroad, for the gruesome killing of innocent Nigerians to stop and for our government to develop the capacity to overcome the criminals troubling the nation.
“Sunday, February 2, 2020, is declared a special prayer walk by Christians in all the states of the federation in the form of a procession to be led by states CAN chairmen at CAN secretariats and pastors of churches in all churches in Nigeria.
“Churches should process round their area, pray for God’s permanent intervention and help from all over the world so that all of us might not be consumed one by one.
“It appears our government is completely overwhelmed. The brutality of Nigerians is happening unabated daily.
“All bloc leaders, zonal and states chairmen, leaders of denominations and all Christians and concerned Nigerians should support and come out en-mass for the programme.
“The church is matching on and the gate of hell shall not prevail against it!”
Ayokunle also made some demands from the Federal Government on behalf of the association in order to address the spate of insecurity.
He urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to overhaul the security council “with a view to bringing in new heads of all the security agencies and the para-military which no religion or part of the country will dominate”.
The CAN leader also called on the Federal government to label the Miyetti Allah Fulani Association a terrorist organisation as being regarded in the terror index and order the arrest and prosecution of the leadership of the group for all the killings in Southern Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, and Taraba States, among others.
He added, “The Federal Government should publish names of all kingpins of the terrorists who are in detention and those who are being prosecuted.
“The Federal Government should stop releasing the so-called repented terrorists since they are reportedly joining their colleagues in the forest to unleash terror on the land.
“The Federal Government should reverse the recent controversial police promotion with a view to balancing religious and ethnic divides in the country.
“The Federal Government should stop sending delegations to all Islamic international organisations and let our Muslim counterparts be doing so as we are doing in all international Christian religious organisations.
“The Federal Government should stop discriminating against our female youth corps members who refuse to wear the NYSC trousers for religious reasons since they allow their Muslim counterparts to wear hijab.
“The victims of the consistent attacks should be assessed and adequately compensated. The victims in various IDPs be provided with adequate security and enough resources for continual survival.
“It is painful and a betrayal to note that the government gives more attention to so-called repentant terrorists than the victims of their evil with the claim that they are being reinstated and rehabilitated, even into the Nigerian Army. This is a major contradiction.”
Ayokunle said it was saddening that each time the government comes out to claim the defeat of the insurgency, more killings of Christians are carried out.
“In the light of the current developments and the circumstantial facts surrounding the prevailing upsurge of attacks against the church, it will be difficult for us to believe that the Federal Government under the present administration is not colluding with the insurgents to exterminate Christians in Nigeria, bearing in mind the very questionable leadership of the security sector that has been skewed towards a religion and region!
“Is that lop-sidedness not a cover-up for the operation of the insurgency? If not, why couldn’t the well-equipped security agents of Nigeria get Rev Andimi out of the captivity of his killers who held him captive for two weeks?” he asked.
Ayokunle said as long as the government continues to live in denial and fail to face reality, criminals would not stop their criminalities.
He added, “We are almost losing hope in the government’s ability to protect Nigerians especially Christians who have become endangered species under its watch.
“We once again call on the international community and the developed world like the US, the UK, Germany, Israel and others to please come to the aid of Nigeria, especially, the Nigerian Church so that we might not be eliminated one by one.”
Ayokunle said while not disputing the fact that some Muslims have been killed, the association hold the belief that the criminals’ primary targets are Christians.
The only exceptions, according to him, are those who are being killed by bandits in the North-western states like Zamfara and Katsina.