Insecurity, which is a major threat in Nigeria, seems unending, as insurgents and bandits keep attacking civilians and military targets, especially in the northern parts of the country with undaunted ferocity. This dangerous development that has attracted reactions from various quarters looks like a not-ending issue, in the nearest future, as the killings of innocent citizens has become a daily occurrence in this volatile part of the nation. Nigerians have suffered attacks from Boko Haram insurgents since 2009. Insecurity in the country has also worsened due to the actions of the predominantly Muslim Fulani militia, who often clash with farmers over grazing lands. Religious leaders in the country have repeatedly called on the government to do more to improve security in the country. Just recently, a Catholic priest, Rev Fr. Alphonsus Bello was killed by unknown gunmen in Katsina, as an elderly priest, identified as Rev. Fr. Joe Keke was also kidnapped. The late Fr. Bello and Fr. Keke were serving at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church Malumfashi, Katsina state, where the incident happened. In a recent statement, made during his homily on Pentecost Sunday, at the Holy Family Cathedral, Sokoto where he administered the Sacrament of Confirmation on Catholic faithful, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most. Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah reacted to the state of insecurity, among other issues bedeviling the country, He described Nigeria as a confused state without direction, as he noted: “No one knows where we are going or where we are coming from.
” The Bishop however assured that God is capable of saving His people and solving their challenges. “All we should be doing as Christians is to trust God and believe His ability to solve our challenges”. Bishop Kukah reminded the faithful that the Catholic Church was the only existing Church from Pentecost, until Fr. Martin Luther’s rebellion that paved way for Protestantism. The Bishop said there are churches and there are churches; there are spirits and there are spirits; and warned people against going from place to place as they must first discern the spirit with which many groups are operating. The Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese, Most Rev. Stephen Dami Mamza also called on Nigerians to embrace peace, in order to solve insecurity and other challenges threaten ing the unity and peace of the country. Bishop Mamza, who doubles as the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Adamawa state chapter, while giving the charge during his homily on Pentecost Sunday at St.
Theresa Cathedral, Jimeta, advocated that roundtable discussion on how Nigeria will be well governed with consideration to the rule of law, as he noted that justice delivery to all is the only solution to the challenges bedeviling Nigeria. The Bishop said citizens are losing confidence in the government because the government fails to perform its primary constitutional responsibility, which is the protection of lives and property of citizens. He charged the congregation not to relent in praying for the nation and the leaders, adding that God can divinely intervene in the affairs of the nation. The Bishop reminded the faithful that Pentecost Sunday commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and other disciples, following the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ; even as he disclosed that the incident marked the beginning of the Christian Church Mission in the world. He said: “The Holy Spirit empowers and liberates us, making us strong Christians, soldiers of Christ Jesus”.
The Bishop called on the congregation to always listen, and allow the Holy Spirit to direct them, adding that Holy Spirit is their advocate, counselor, as every believer has been empowered to bring unity, salvation, peace and love. Reacting to the killing of Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Yashim Bello and the kidnap of Rev. Fr. Joe Keke, the Director of Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku noting the bizarreness of the incidents, called for national protest to address the activities of insurgents and bandits. He said: “So sad indeed. We need to embark on a national protest again…or else, one by one; these Boko Haram, ISIS, ISWAP, herdsmen and bandits will finish us. I know Fr. Joe Keke as one of the eldest and most dedicated priests who have worked in Sokoto Diocese. The priest prayed for “the immediate and safe return of Fr. Keke and for the peaceful repose of Fr. Bello.” The Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Gboko, Rev. Fr. Immanuel Agbaise, while reacting to the sad incidence, said that: “Fr Joe Keke was my Parish Priest at Birnin Kebbi in the eighties.
I was a young altar boy, and my dad was his catechist. Please, brothers and sisters; let us keep praying for his safe release”. According to Fr. Agbaise,” the Muslims are fighting jihad, and we are watching them with folded arms. They are using guerilla tactics, but we are expecting them to come at us in an all-out confrontation before we realize it’s a war. This is a pity. I say now is the time to defend ourselves. Does anyone see a connection here? Just yesterday, the American Ambassador visited Bishop Kukah, and today, two of his priests are dead, and another still missing. I don’t think it is unconnected”. In his reaction, Makurdi Diocesan Director of Communications, Very Rev. Fr. Moses Iorapuu said: “I saw the connection as soon as I saw the story. They are sending a message to both the Church and the US Government”. The incident is the latest in a series of abductions and killings of clergy in Africa’s most populous country. Few weeks back, May 17, 2021 to be precise, it was reported that a Catholic priest, serving in Kaduna Archdiocese was kidnapped with 10 other people in an attack by gunmen that killed eight people.
Two days later, bandits attacked an Assemblies of God Church building in northern part of the country, also killing eight people, as reported in the local media. In a report filed on May 7, 2021, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja noted “Insecurity is the greatest challenge facing our country. Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land, the herdsmen/ farmer menace has festered and spread and has today developed into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, and brutal killings.” “Nigeria is said to be the third country most impacted by terrorism. We call on the government to do the needful in ensuring that terrorists are checkmated, criminals rounded up, bandits dismantled, and kidnappers put out of business.