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Pope washes prisoners’ feet ahead of Good Friday

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Pope Francis washing the feet of some prisoners, which also included a Nigerian in Italy yesterday


• Prices of food items increase in Lagos for Easter
• Be like Jesus, FRSC advises motorists
• Pray for Leah Sharibu’s release, MURIC tells Nigerians

Pope Francis washed prisoners’ feet at a Rome jail on Thursday, including two Muslims, an Orthodox Christian and a Buddhist, once again choosing to celebrate Holy Thursday among Italy’s incarcerated. “Everyone always has the opportunity to change life and one cannot judge,” said Francis to the prisoners of the city’s all-male Regina Coeli prison.

It is the fourth time in the pope’s five-year papacy that he has celebrated the Holy Mass in an Italian jail. “For me, visiting the sick, going into prison, making the prisoner feel that he can have hope of rehabilitation, that is the preaching of the church,” Francis said.This year, the 12 inmates washed by Francis hailed from Italy, the Philippines, Morocco, Colombia, Moldova, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The rite, performed yearly on Maundy or Holy Thursday, commemorates Jesus Christ’s Last Supper with the apostles.

In Christian tradition, Jesus is said to have washed their feet ahead of the meal in a gesture of humility. “I am a sinner like you but today I represent Jesus… God never abandons us, never tires of forgiving us,” Francis said to the inmates.The ceremony is part of the run-up to Easter Sunday. Since his election in 2013, the pope has moved the feet washing ceremony outside the walls of the Vatican and into centres for vulnerable people or those on society’s margins.

In his first year, he visited a youth detention centre where he performed the ritual on a group of young inmates including two Muslims — the first Catholic leader ever to do so. In 2014, he washed the feet of elderly and disabled people, in 2015 he did so in a prison, and in 2016 he chose a migrant reception centre.

Last year, the pope went to Paliano jail outside Rome where he washed the feet of former mafiosi in a prison known for housing inmates who have informed on old mobster allies.

In Nigeria, ahead of the Easter celebrations, prices of some food items like tomatoes, chili pepper, and onions have increased by over 100 per cent in Lagos markets. A survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday at Mile 12, Ile-Epo and Oyingbo markets revealed that a 40kg basket of tomatoes, which hitherto sold for N4,500 in February now goes for N9,500.

A 50kg basket of chili pepper increased from N4,500 to N8,000 and a basket of tatashe rose from N4,000 to N8,000. A jute bag of onions, which previously sold for N13,000 now costs N14,000, a 100kg bag of beans costs N30,500, while a 50kg bag of rice ranges between N13,000 to N18,500, depending on the brand.

A kilo of frozen turkey goes for N1,350, frozen chicken cost N1,200 while a paint measure of garri still maintains its price at N350. Traders at the markets attributed the price hike to seasonal factors, increase in transportation costs and the lingering security challenges in the North-east geo-political zone.

Alhaji Hamzat Abudulkarim, a pepper trader at Ile-Epo market, said the quantity of the produce had reduced due to seasonal factors. “Tomato is almost out of season and its price and that of pepper has increased from markets in Kano, Sokoto, Zaria, where we buy them from,” he said.

Femi Odusanya, spokesperson for Mile 12 Perishable Food Traders Association, said there was need for the three levels of government to increase investment in mechanised farming, toward boosting food production.

“Eighty per cent of the food sold in markets across the country are planted by subsistence farmers and this is not sustainable because of our large population. Concerns about the high cost of food would be over in the country only if state governments key into cultivating produce that can grow in their areas, to increase the volume of food produced,” Odusanya said.

He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to increase investment in irrigation schemes across the country, to enhance dry season cultivation.Meanwhile, the Ogun Command of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has advised motorists to emulate Jesus Christ as they celebrate the Easter period. The Sector Commander of FRSC, Mr. Clement Oladele, gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Ota, Ogun State.

According to him, the Easter is about the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Because Jesus Christ loves the world, he sacrificed his life so that human beings could find redemption. In the same light, when a motorist does not have love for other road users, he/she will not respect and tolerate them when they make mistakes on the highways.

“If a motorist does not love, he/she cannot respect the rules and regulations guarding the safety of the highways. If motorists do not have love for one another, they will not obey traffic officials that are labouring day and night, who have abandoned their families to ensure that people get to their destinations safely,” he said.

In another development, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has appealed to Nigerians to pray for the release of Leah Sharibu and other Chibok girls still in captivity. Prof. Ishaq Akintola, Director of Muslim Rights Concern, said this in a statement to felicitate with Christians on Easter and Good Friday celebrations yesterday.
Nigerians will join millions of other Christians around the world in marking Good Friday on March 30 and Easter Monday  on April 2, 2018.


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