. . . Catholic Bishops Lead Protest March against Killings
. . . Demand Prosecution of Perpetrators
By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, came to a standstill, Sunday, March 1, as Catholic Bishops under the aegis of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), marched round the city in protest against the incessant killings in the country, reports Ifeoma Ezenyilimba.
The peaceful protest which lasted for hours and kicked off from the National Ecumenical Centre in the Central Business District, Abuja, to Our Lady, Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Gariki, also in Abuja, saw the Catholic bishops, joined by Catholic priests, consecrated religious and other Catholic faithful in the protest march in defiance of the rain. They were all clad in black attires.
The protesters displayed placards with inscriptions such as, “Thou Shall Not Kill”, “Government, Rise Up to Your Responsibility”, “God Detests Injustice”, “Politicians, Stop Destroying Our Country”, “Politicians, Work for the Good of Nigeria” and “Stop the Killings in the Name of God”, among others.
According to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, the protest was against the brutal killing of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram and terrorist herdsmen, as well as against mass insecurity in Nigeria.
Leading in the protest which kick started the CBCN’s one week conference in Abuja on March 1, the group’s President and Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin, Most Rev Augustine Akubeze, said it was on behalf of the over 22 million Catholics and over 100 million Christians in Nigeria.
Bishop Akubeze said the protest was part of the bishops’ religious obligation to speak prophetically against that which was against the commandments of God. According to him, the killing of God’s children was evil, the failure of the government to protect innocent people from relentless attacks was evil, the lack of prosecution of the terrorists by the government was evil and the government’s response to the many attacks which were targeted against Christians in Nigeria was far below average.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria President, registered his displeasure over the spate of insecurity in the country which ranged from brutal killings of human beings, kidnapping for ransom, invasion of people’s homes and invasion of holy places, such as churches and seminaries, which, he said, had led to many mass burials.
He called for the prosecution of the perpetrators of the crimes, even as he berated the Federal Government for, according to him, caring very less over the plight of Nigerians.