Against the background of persistent insecurity in Nigeria, Catholic Bishops in the West African nation have announced a 40-day prayer period during which God’s intervention will be sought for an end to the security crisis that has been described as “genocide”.
The announcement is contained in a recent statement by members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) who have appealed for full participation.
“To all Catholics, we request that you join in praying, one Our Father, three Hail Marys, and one Glory Be to the Father every day after the Angelus for forty days, starting from 22 August 2020 and ending 30 September 2020, the eve of Nigeria’s Independence Day,” say CBCN members in their August 8 collective statement shared with ACI Africa.
They add, “On Independence Day, let us join in praying the five decades of the sorrowful mysteries starting from 12 noon.”
In their two-page letter signed by CBCN President, Archbishop Obiora Akubeze, all Bishops in the country are asked to encourage the faithful in their respective Dioceses to “participate fully in this prayer for God to save Nigeria.”
Nigeria has experienced several militant attacks in the last several months including kidnappings and murder that seem to target Christians.
In January, 18-year-old seminarian, Michael Nnadi, who had been kidnapped alongside three other seminarians from their Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna State was murdered.
At a recent Mass aimed at seeking God’s intervention following killings in Southern Kaduna within Kaduna State, Fr. Benjamin Yakubu Bala described the situation in the State as a “large scale of genocide” and called on the Federal Government to embrace a “grassroots approach in handling” insecurity in the affected regions of the country.
In their August 8 statement, the members of CBCN decry the “increasing insecurity and unabated acts of terrorism in Northern Nigeria” and call on the Federal and Kaduna State governments to “bring a complete stop to the killing of innocent people” in Southern Kaduna.
“We are all tired of this situation,” the Bishops say, adding, “Our hearts are bleeding, and we are more troubled when we hear of the massacre presently going on in Southern Kaduna.”
They further call on relevant authorities to ensure that “the perpetrators of the killings (are) brought to justice.”
“Where there is no justice or justice is not seen to be done, there cannot be peace. Where there is no peace, there cannot be development,” CBCN members say and continue, “Any Government, State or Federal that wants peace must work for justice for everyone.”
“There will never be sustained development built upon the bloodshed of innocent people brutally murdered by religious fundamentalists without any recourse to justice for the victims,” they add and addressing themselves to politicians, the Church leaders say, “We do not want any politician to politicize the killing of Nigerians.”
They underscore the urgent need to stop “the killings” saying, “The loss of the life of any Nigerian does not help to further the agenda of any religious ideology or the ambition of any politician.”
The Bishops further recall the campaign promises of the current government saying, “The present Federal Government came to power, promising Nigerians the eradication of corruption, a guarantee of security to life and property, and rapid growth in the economy, the creation of jobs, and an enabling environment that engenders growth of the private sector.”
“A significant increase in the supply of electricity to Nigerians, affordable and quality health care to Nigerians, and the revamping of the educational sector were the promises the Government continues to make,” the members of CBCN recall in their August 8 statement.
“Many Nigerians, irrespective of political party affiliation, will affirm that these promises have remained a far cry,” they decry and “strongly appeal to Nigerians to unite together in calling the Federal Government to give priority to these areas of our lives.”
The Prelates assure “all people suffering the incessant attacks in Southern Kaduna to know that all Catholics in Nigeria are praying for them.”
“As we pray,” they say, “We know that God wants us to do what is humanly possible to ensure that there is prosperity and freedom for every Nigerian.”
“We must be instruments of forgiveness and reconciliation. We must be on the path of justice for all and Peace in Nigeria,” the Bishops in Nigeria say and add, “May God give us courage to work for justice and peace in Nigeria. May God bless Nigeria.”