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DO NOT SUCCUMB TO THREATS OF MARAUDING FULANI HERDSMEN, CHRISTIANS TOLD

Christians throughout Nigeria have been called upon not to allow the present atrocities of marauding Fulani herdsmen to dampen their spirit and faith in God, but rather remain steadfast in their faith in God and pray devoutly, because God is greater that any power, including death.

This was the kernel of the homily by Most Rev. Anselm Umoren at the memorial Mass held at the Christian Centre, Central Business Area, Abuja; to commemorate the burial of the two Catholic Priests and 17 other faithful murdered by Fulani herdsmen at St Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor-Mbalom, in Gwer Local Government Area of Benue State, on Monday, April 24, 2018. The ceremony was attended by representatives of all the Church bloc-members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); led by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion.

The Mass celebration which was followed by a Prayer Procession protests from the Christian Centre to Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Garki, where it was rounded-off with the Benediction; was at the instance of the directive of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). The Conference had in a statement called on all Archdioceses and dioceses in the country, to simultaneously conduct a funeral Mass followed by a Prayer procession protest on Tuesday, May 22, when the murdered Mbalom faithful were being buried by the Bishop and faithful of Makurdi Diocese.

Bishop Umoren declared: “Today as we gather here as brothers and sisters, the martyrs of Mbalom will be laid to rest in Makurdi. They shed their blood for the sake of their faith in Christ. They were murdered while they went to worship God. As the people aware of the Resurrection, we have hope that they are sleeping in peace of God.”

He added: “This occasion is also an opportunity for us to pray for all those who have been victims of barbaric and satanic killings by the murderous herdsmen in different part of the country. Many families are bereaved, on account of ongoing tragedy in our nation; as Christians we raise our voices in prayer to God to give us peace, to comfort all those who mourn, and to grant eternal rest to the dead. This is the reason for our gathering at this Mass this morning.

Bishop Umoren also reminded President Muhammadu Buhari of his promises of protecting the lives and properties of all Nigerian citizens, irrespective of their religious and ethnic differences; and that nobody in the country is above the law. He however noted that those who go to bed and have their eyes closed in the night are murdered in cold blood by the Fulani herdsmen “who seem to be above the law of the country.

His words: “Mr. President I call you to keep your promise. We wish to remind you that the rampaging squad of terrorist herdsmen who have turned Nigeria into a killing field seems to be above the law; because we are yet to hear of any arrest or prosecution of these murders who continue to amuse themselves with the blood of innocent Nigerians. The Bishop continued: “I want you Mr. President to know that there are no Nigerians that we know of who go to bed with the assurance that their constitutional rights are in safe hands. Those who go to bed with their two eyes closed are murdered in their sleep. We wish to remind you that the basis for the existence of government is the security of lives and properties of the citizens; this is what we are asking for. We are not asking for too much we are only asking the government to live up to its covenant to Nigerian people. Secure our lives, people are dying in our country and many of us are wondering whether there is still a government”.

The bishop admonished the people: “My dear friends, difficult and trying times like this calls us to renew our faith in God. We are the people of hope, because we are the people of the Resurrection. Those who die because of their faith in Jesus are not lost or wasted their reward is great in heaven. Let us also never be discouraged because the Lord is with us the Lord does not abandon His own and we know that he will hearken to our prayers.”

Using the readings of the day to call on the faithful to remain undaunted by the barbaric and gruesome activities of the Fulani herdsmen, Bishop Umoren urged them to remain steadfast in their faith; adding that they “assures us that God does not abandon His own people in times of tribulations and that God is a God of peace not of blood”.

He however stated that the condition for the realization of peace is for the leaders and the people to obey the law of God; not just knowing what is right but doing what is right. The Bishop added that whenever people decide not to obey God, there can be no peace; adding that “this is the challenge for us and all our leaders to listen to the voice of God”.

He also noted that the readings give us the values that can ensure peace and harmony in our society. He stressed: “We should not allow the actions of miscreants who have no fear of God to lure us into something wrong. We must continue to be good and stand up to defend life. He also urged the leaders of the country to rise up to their responsibility of protecting the citizens of the country and their properties, adding: “Life is the sacred property of God, no one has the right to take life. Government must wake up and protect the lives of the people from the murderers. We also pray for the conversion and change of heart by these murderers; and if they refuse to change, they will have to answer God.”

While indicting the country’s security agencies for not living up to expectation by arresting the perpetrators of the nefarious killings and bringing them to persecution, Bishop Umoren reminded the country’s leadership not to forget that there is a day of reckoning to answer for their deeds. He added that Christ’s calls us to the height of Christian morality, stressing that: “our hands must be clean, we must not kill while our heads must be clean and devoid of evil thoughts. We must be people of clean hands and pure hearts.”

 

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