Catholics in Edo, Delta protest alleged herdsmen killings

Catholic women and other faithful during a peaceful prayerful procession to protest the killing of Catholic Priests and other Christians in Benue State, in Abuja on Tuesday (22/5/17). 02693/22/5/2018/Callistus Ewelike/BJO/NAN

Hundreds of Catholic faithful in Edo and Delta on Tuesday joined their counterparts across the country to protest the killing of innocent Nigerians by suspected herdsmen.

The Catholic faithful under different groups of the church marched through the streets of Benin, Auchi and Warri with placards of various inscriptions.

In Benin, some of the inscriptions on the placards include: ‘stop rendering people homeless’, ‘cattle grazing is private business’, ‘the Catholic Church in Nigeria rejects Federal Government of Nigeria’s poor handling of security in the country’, among others.

They called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent steps to address the spate of attacks and killings.

The Chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin, Michael Oyanoafor said they were using the peaceful march to say that life is sacred and that nobody has the right to take a life.

He said the level of violence in the country had deteriorated to a level that puts the life of every Nigerian at risk.

He added that they were also using the protest to say ‘no’ to terrorism.

“We are telling the government to make every effort to address the situation, so that Nigerians can live in peace.

“The Federal Government has the power, in terms of having control of the Nigeria Police and the military in different forms and capacity.”

In Auchi, hundreds of Catholic faithful converged on the Immaculate Conception Cathedral to embark on a solemn protest in honour of the two priests and 17 parishioners killed by marauding herdsmen in Benue.

The protest, led by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Gabriel Dunia coincided with the burial ceremony of the priests and parishioners killed at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor-Mbalom, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue state on April 24.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Dunia said the nationwide protest was to draw the attention of the Federal Government on the need to ensure adequate security of lives and property of its citizenry.

“This call becomes imperative in view of the killings in parts of the country by herdsmen.

The Bishop of Warri Diocese, John Afareha led over 2,000 worshipers in the well-coordinated possession from the Cathedral in Okere through Ajamimogha to Government House Annex.

The clergyman urged the government to rise up to its constitutional responsibility of safeguarding lives and properties, noting that Christians could only arm themselves with prayers.

The worshipers carried placards with inscriptions like: ‘For an end to killings in Nigeria’, ‘For peace in Nigeria’, ‘FG help stop killings in Nigeria’, among others.

“We have gathered here for peace and unity to end the senseless killings in all parts of the country.

“We cannot take to arms to defend ourselves but can arm ourselves with prayers and voice out our displeasure to the government.

“All life is sacred irrespective of tribe or political affiliations so must be cherished and protected by all,” he said.

Mr Afareha said that the church would continue to support the government in prayers to enthrone peace in the country.

A copy of the statement of peaceful possession was presented to Emiro Nelson, Assistant Director, Government House Annex on behalf of Delta government.

Earlier, a requiem mass was held at the cathedral before the possession.


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