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Catholics defy Abuja downpour, protest against pervasive insecurity

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Christians faithfuls march on the street of Abuja during a prayer and penance for peace and security in Nigeria in Abuja on March 1, 2020. – The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria gathered faithfuls as well as other Christians and other people to pray for security and to denounce the barbaric killings of Christians by the Boko Haram insurgents and the incessant cases of kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria. (Photo by Kola SULAIMON / AFP)

Thousand of Catholics yesterday defied the first rain of the year in Abuja to protest against the worsening insecurity in the country.

The march, which started from the National Christian Centre and terminated at the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro Cathedral, Area 3 within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was led by president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN)), Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze.

Speaking after the procession, Akubeze told President Buhari Muhammadu that his “silence on the worsening insecurity problem in the country is sowing and breeding a seed of mistrust, and the longer it stays, the more you lose those who could have given you the benefit of the doubt.”

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He went on: “As things stand now, it appears only a few Nigerians can defend you with reasons, only few Nigerians can argue that your silence is not an endorsement of the barbaric actions of the terrorists and criminals.”

The cleric urged the nation’s first citizen to listen to the “cries of Nigerians, and also listen to the National Assembly which has unanimously called on you to change the security chiefs and take more proactive actions to prevent terrorist attacks in the country, especially in the North East.”

The CBCN president also called on Buhari to seek foreign help over the raging attacks on Nigerians as well reassure the citizens that there was no agenda to Islamise them by not “giving an undue advantage to a section or religion and its adherents bearing in mind that Nigeria is a secular state.”

On the exercise, Akubeze stated: “We today (yesterday) embarked on a peaceful protest on behalf of over 50 million Catholics and over 100 million Christians in Nigeria. We are protesting against the brutal killings of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram and terrorist herdsmen who are invading people’s farmlands forcefully. We are gathered here to register our protest against the kidnappings for ransoms in every part of Nigeria.

“We are gathered to mourn the women, babies, children and men who have been killed by the terrorists. We are gathered to let the Federal Government of Nigeria know that we are tired of hearing from them that Boko Haram has been technically defeated even when they still attack with impunity. Even local and international security experts have concluded that the terrorists use weapons that are very sophisicated. Our protest is part of our religious obligations to speak prophetically against whatever is against God’s commandment.”

He added: “The killing of God’s children is evil and the failure to protect innocent people from the relentless attacks is evil. The lack of prosecution of terrorists is evil. Our government’s response to the terrorist attacks is, for lack of better words, far below average.”

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