Christians on Sunday staged a nationwide protest against the resurgence of killings and general insecurity in the country.
The “Prayer Walk” against insecurity was called by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to coincide with the end of the three-day prayer and fasting for the nation.
President of CAN Rev. Samson Ayokunle led the protest in Ibadan after a prayer session at Orita Mefa Baptist Church in the ancient city. Ayokunle is the President of the Baptist Convention.
General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, was on the streets in Ebute Meta, Lagos, bearing a placard and leading members of his church on the “Prayer Walk.”
In some of the recent killing, Boko Haram killed the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) chairman in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, on January 21.
Andimi, who was declared missing on January 2, 2020, had in a video published on January 5, confirmed that he was in the custody of Boko Haram.
Last Saturday, the bodies of two kidnap victims were found: a seminarian, 18-year-old Michael Nnadi and the wife of a Kaduna-based medical doctor Philip Ataga.
The bodies of Mrs Ataga and Nnadi were found dumped by the roadside.
But the Federal Government has said that the terrorist group is killing Christians to create religious crisis.
All the parishes of the RCCG nationwide took part in the march. It was a peaceful short walk. Members of the church carried placards with various inscriptions. In most places, security men were on hand to monitor the walk.
Adeboye personally held aloft, a placard that read: ‘All Souls Are Precious to God.’ Behind and above his head was another placard with the inscription: ‘We Say No to Terrorism.’
The renowned cleric led his congregation out after a prayer session for Nigeria at the national headquarters of the RCCG in Ebute-Metta, Lagos. Prayers were held for God to fish out “all those troubling Nigeria and destroy them”. The service was on live telecast to all RCCG branches across the world.
The two-kilometre “Prayer Walk” started around 10:55am through the Redemption Way to Coast Street and back to the church auditorium in Ebute Metta, Lagos.
Members prayed as they walked along. Some of the placards had messages like: “We say no to killings, “every life matters, shed no blood it cries to God,” “God hurts when his creatures are hurt,” “all creatures are created equal”, and “silencing others’ right is not right.”
Adeboye said: “There are some things that the government can do alone and there are others that they cannot do alone, that is why we have to pray for the country that God should have mercy on Nigeria.
“We pray that there will be peace and security in Nigeria. God sees all things and knows where the terrorists are, we pray that God sends His light to Nigeria and expose the evildoers in the country. That God should uproot all their sponsors.”
“Every soul is precious to God whether a Christian or a Muslim. Father, we declare no more death of the innocent in Nigeria.
Lagos State CAN Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, demanded an end to the spate of insecurity and said challenged the Federal Government to restore Nigeria’s reputation as a strong, secured and prosperous nation.
He said: Today, we are making a point to our leaders to rule the nation for God and stop these killings.
‘The church has kept quiet for so long but we cannot continue to watch while our people are being butchered like animals. Investors are running away and countries of the world are shutting their borders on us because of the evil in the land. We need peace for prosperity to reign!’, he firmly expressed.
A peaceful walk by worshippers along major roads temporarily halted traffic in the sprawling city of Ibadan
At the Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan, the CAN President, led a crowd of worshippers who sang and danced to: ‘The church is marching on. The gate of hell shall not prevail’ as they marched round the church premises.”
The protesters also carried banners with inscriptions like: “Stop persecuting Christians,” “Jesus is Lord,” “We support CAN” and “Stop the killing of Christians.”
The CAN president asked the international community to intervene in the plight of Christians in Nigeria as they intervened in other nations.
He said: “My message, first of all to the Nigerian government, is to urge the administration to up their game on the issue of security. They said they are trying but their best is not the best because daily, bloodshed is happening. We cannot be playing politics with the lives of men and women.
“If anybody is telling government that they are doing their best, that person is not telling the truth. It is playing politics with human lives. If politicians are playing politics, we in the church cannot play politics.
“The unorganised soldiers that are called terrorists should not be more powerful than the organised soldiers. This nonsense of killing must stop.
“President Buhari should rise up and up his game. If the attack is not religious, don’t let there be attacks on Christians again.
The CAN president, who expressed happiness over the success of the nationwide rally, thanked Christian leaders, especially Pastor Adeboye for heeding the assocaition’s call for the protest.
Ayokunle, in a statement by his Special Assistant (Media &Communications), Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, said:”We sincerely appreciate all the churches and our Fathers of Faith like the highly revered Servant of the Most High, Pastor E. A Adeboye, who took part in the peaceful protest. That shows how important the exercise is to the country and the body of Christ.
“I say well done for your sacrificial participation in the three days prayer and fasting. It is our hope that our government and those who are at the helms of our security agencies will wake up to the challenges.
“We declared the three days of Prayer and Fasting to save Nigeria in general and Christians in particular from consistent and serial killings by insurgents, Islamic terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and ritualists all over the country.
The protesters converged on the CAN secretariat at Adebayo area in Ado-Ekiti, at about 1:30pm after church services and took off for the peaceful protest around 2pm.
They took a long walk from Ori-Apata through Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Christ School to the popular Fajuyi park all within Ado-Ekiti metropolis singing against killings.
They wielded placards that read: “We must unite against killings in Nigeria”, “It is inhuman don’t take life’ ; ‘Citizens must be protected from killers’ ; ‘ Better welfare packages for IDPs’ ; ‘Life is sacred’ among others.
The protesters were accompanied on the protest march by the operatives of the Nigerian Police and their counterparts from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to forestall a possible break down of law and order.
CAN Chairman in the state, Revd Fr. Peter Olowolaf, condemned indiscriminate killings in the country.
The protest in Abuja which was held under the watchful eyes of security personnel was peaceful. Like the Lagos protesters, those in the nation’s capital carried placards decrying the worsening insecurity in the country.
They sang worship songs and prayed as they marched round the streets of Kuje, Gwagwalada and Wuse for 10 minutes.
At the First Baptist Church, Gwagwalada, Pastor Oladeji, who is also a pastor of the church told The Nation that government should not rest on its oars till the security challenges were brought to a barest minimum.
He said: “Our security agencies should wake up from their slumber. The Federal Government should stop recycling the terrorists through the unjust releasing of the captured terrorists.
“The primary duty of any government anywhere in the world is the protection of lives and property. No more excuses. All the masterminds of the bloodshed in the country must be arrested and prosecuted. We know that our three days of waiting will not be in vain. We have asked God to intervene. He did it in Egypt and Samaria, He will deliver Nigeria”.
Akanji, who is the Chairman of CAN in North Central, advised the government to change his approach to security.”
He said: “We are protesting to God and letting God know that the situation is becoming most unbearable that people will be killed and nothing is done in a nation. We are thinking that there is so much focus on Christians because if you go and kill a CAN chairman in a local government what you are doing is that you are confronting all the Christians.”
The rally started at the RCCG True Witness Zone in Kubwa immediately after the monthly thanksgiving service by all the parishes under the Zone.
The parishioners led by, Pastor Olumide Ayoola marched along the streets singing the RCCG anthem. They carried placard with inscriptions like: “CAN rejects poor handling of Insecurity,” “Bring back Leah Sharibu and other kidnapped girls,” and “Enough of these incessant killings..”
In Ogun, the peaceful rally by the All Is Well Parish of the RCCG, which was coordinated by the Parish Pastor, Fatoyinbo Martins and Odufala Michael moved to the Timirin area and the OGTV new broadcasting station in Ajebo.
They bore placard that had similar messages like their Lagos brethren.
In Osogbo, Osun State capital, Christians from every denomination converged on Methodist Church of Nigeria, Cathedral of The Living Spring, Isale-Aro, in their numbers where they also prayed to God to end the spate of killings, banditry, and terrorism in the country.
Chairman, Strategic Committee of the state chapter of CAN, Rev Jacob Asan, who addressed the protesters said: “Our leaders know that we don’t have a gun, spear or sword that will save us from the menace of killing, banditry, kidnapping among others.
“They see that prayer is the only weapon that can bring changes to all our challenges. We are instructed to unanimously call on God to put an end to all these confrontations.
“If it happened to some people today and others did not stand up to pray against it. Who knows who is the next. We should know that we have been experiencing related incidents in this part of the country. We have now come to the conclusion that there is nothing prayer can’t do. God will heal our land when we call on his name.”
RCCG members led by Pastor Joseph Oshodin carried placards and marched through Sokponba Road, Second East Circular and other major streets in Bénin City.
They chanted songs calling on God to have mercy on the country and destroy those causing its security problems.
The CAN Chairman in Benue State Rev Akpen Lava, led the protesters round the NKST Church and later addressed the media.
Leva called on the Federal Government to live up to the expectation of protesting Nigerians, saying the country was no longer safe.
The state chapter of CAN demanded from President Buhari decisive actions to save lives and property in the country.
The CAN Dr John Ibenu, at a news conference at the Chapel of Freedom International, Lokoja, said: “We call on the President to act now to save lives. If he fails to act rightly and promptly, then posterity will judge him for standing with the enemy of the people. There must be no more sacred cows.
‘’Nobody is a singular custodian of ideas. When people are not performing the duties for which they are employed or appointed, they must give way for others to come in.
The state Chairman of CAN, Rev. Mathias Echioda led the prayer/rally around major roads in Minna.
The protesters, who wore black costumes to mourn those that had lost their lives to insecurity, also carried placards that read , ‘No to Kidnapping’, ‘No to Terrorism’, No to Killings’, ‘No to Violence’ and ‘No to banditry.’
After the march, they gathered at the ECWA Goodnews Church Minna to pray for the nation.
The state CAN Chairman, Rev. Mathias Echioda, said: “We are classified as a terrorist nation because of a very few people, a very minute fraction. Please do not forget God. Any nation that forgets