The Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have called on the Federal Government to do all it can, to stop the killings of innocent people by insurgents, bandits and other criminal groups, by putting security measures in place, to curb the activities of these vicious persons, who are on the rampage in the country. The Bishops who gave the charge in their respective Easter messages, last Sunday, also urged Nigerians to work together in unity, for peace and justice to reign in the nation, and for love to return, so, the people can experience one world and one humanity, as it was the case in the past. Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Oyo, said God condemns the current situation of wars, conflict, violence and bloodshed being witnessed in Nigeria, and all over the world. He said: “From the pulpit of the cross, Jesus cries out for an end to hatred, corruption, selfishness, racism, discrimination and wickedness.
God is always good. He made a world that is good. Human beings must stop destroying the world, and destroying one another. Humanity cannot win a war against itself. We must sit down and realize that we are of the same stock; children of one God, and live accordingly. Every life that is snuffed out, every child that is killed is a defeat for humanity. Let us work together for peace and justice, and let love return, so, we experience again one world and one humanity.” In his Easter message, tagged, “Easter: The Risen Lord is Our Light and Our Help”, Most Rev. Felix Femi Ajakaye, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti while condemning the spate of killings in the country, said life is a special gift from God, and it belongs to Him (God) alone. He said: “God is the Giver and He remains the Master of life. Really, the fullness of life is eternal life, which Jesus Christ, who is Himself life, brought to us.
The believer’s life is hidden in Christ, and it implies holiness and living God’s assigned life in the spirit. Whether we live or die, all this is for Christ. “Our Christian commitment will help others to see us as mirrors through which they may see God. ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ is the ardent prayer of all sincere Christians. ‘Coming’ will result in presence. The Lord Jesus is present to his people; hence repeated ‘coming’ will result in an ever more intimate presence, a greater oneness in love and mutual understanding of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Friend.” Giving his Easter Message, titled, “Resurrection, the pledge of our salvation”, Bishop Peter Odetoyinbo said insecurity in the country poses lots of danger to unity and common heritage of Nigerians, adding that it continues as a regular trademark, due to lack of respect for human and family life. He said: “I call your attention to the raging evils around us; the evils of kidnapping, banditry, child trafficking, molestations, terrorism and other related vices that have rendered our nation unsafe.
These are the evils that the light of Christ should dispel from our hearts, if only we realize the dangers they pose to our unity and common heritage. Insecurity continues as a regular trademark in our country due to lack of respect for human and family life, as violence is constantly visited on innocent Nigerians by perceived enemies of our nation both local and foreign.” The Most Rev. Matthew Manoso Ndagoso, Archbishop of Kaduna noted Jesus’ cry of anguish on the Cross is indeed the cry of anguish of most Nigerians, as they are weighed down by the unprecedented situation of insecurity in the land caused by kidnapping, banditry, insurgency, armed robbery, cultism, deadly pastoralists / farmers clashes, among others. He said: “No one in our dear country today needs telling about the challenges we all face.
However, difficult and bitter as our past and present experiences may be, it is not the end of the world and by the grace of God it will not be. It was the experience of the disciples of Jesus during the first Holy Week, particularly on Good Friday. We should always remember that Good Friday did not have the last word. Easter Sunday had. Let us therefore learn to see the daily difficulties, challenges and sufferings we encounter in life as our Good Friday.” In his Easter message, titled, “Nigeria: Before our glory departs” Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese compared Nigeria’s current predicament to Israel’s situation that led to the death of Eli, the great High Priest of Israel. Kukah said: “Israel’s defeat in the hands of the Philistines led to the death of 30,000 soldiers. The two sons of the 98-yearold priest Hophni and Phinehas died in the battle.
Eli’s two sons had foolishly carried the Ark of the Lord into the battlefield for protection, only for it to become a trophy for the victorious Philistines. The high priest, Eli, collapsed and died after hearing this horrible news. Elsewhere, on hearing about the death of her husband, her father- in-law, and the loss of the Ark, Eli’s daughter-in-law went into premature labour. She was delivered of a baby boy. A call for great celebration in Israel! Strangely, she responded by naming her newborn son ‘Ichabod’, meaning, the glory has departed! “Taunted by Boko Haram, ravaged by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other merchants of death across the nation, there is collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart! Retired military and intelligence officers lament over what has become of their glorious profession as they watch the humiliation of our military personnel. Traumatised citizens are tortured daily by bandits. The nation has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly. A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hang in the hot air. We have no message and have no idea how long this will last.
Our people seek solace and protection, but frustration and darkness threaten to drown them. Is their government on AWOL?” Giving his Easter message, tagged “Be Your Brother’s Keeper”, Most Rev Valerian M. Okeke said the resurrection of Jesus gives, as well sustains in Christians, the undying hope that goodness will triumph over evil, light over darkness, truth over falsehood, and life over death. “Today, in Nigeria, there is too much violence, we battle with kidnappers, bandits, killerherdsmen, Boko Haram insurgents, not to mention, political violence coming from those who see political office as do or die battle. I hereby call on all Nigerians and all men and women of goodwill to be their brother’s and sister’s keeper. If you believe that there is only one God who created all human beings then stop killing others because they are your brothers and sisters. The blood of our brothers and sisters being killed by herdsmen, by bandits, by boko haram and kidnappers are crying to God for vengeance”, he said. Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese, in his Easter Message tagged, “We must not jeopardize the unity of our country” urged Nigerians to unite, and work hard, to build a peaceful and united country, particularly at this period of increasing insecurity, fear and anxiety in the land.”
Archbishop Martins also called on leaders in the country, to be more proactive and sincere in tackling the numerous challenges, such as insecurity, endemic corruption, economic woes, ethnic agitations, worsening unemployment, amongst several others plaguing the nation, adding that failure to urgently address these problems, is capable of plunging the entire nation in the path of disintegration. The prelate stressed on the need for all Nigerians to continue to live in true brotherhood, adding, that this can only be reinforced when there is love, mutual respect and tolerance, care for human life and promotion of justice for all of God’s children, as taught by Jesus Christ, and as he (Christ) demonstrated in his life in this world. Archbishop Martins expressed dismay over what he termed the failure of those in government to address the grave level of discontent across the land, and inability of security agencies in the country, to nip the activities of criminals in the bud, and identify their sponsors, in order to deal with insecurity. He also said that the growing restlessness in the land, and the perceived inability of government to address major contentious issues of national importance, could herald a deadlier wave of disaffection, than that of the #EndSARS protest of last October.