The Nigerian Church authorities are becoming disillusioned by the inability of the country's security apparatus to check the massive wave of persecution of Christians, necessitating the call for the "adoption of self-defence measures" by Christian communities in order to survive relentless aggression.
Self-defence is a countermeasure that involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm. The use of the right of self-defence as a legal justification for the use of force in times of danger is available in many jurisdictions, including the Christian faith, known as "The Just War Doctrine."
The Director of Social Communications, Diocese of Makurdi, Father Moses Iorapuu speaking at the 13th Makurdi Diocesan Laity Council Seminar lamented the " massive wave of persecution" in the country, especially Benue State, resulting in the displacement of Christian communities, urged the lay faithful to play active role in securing their communities as their passivity is only emboldening their aggressors.
Father Moses Iorapuu who presented a paper entitled "The Word of God as Dependable Light and Hope of the Faithful in Adversity: Interrogating Contentious Contemporary Challenges to our Society in the Year of the SYNOD" accused the federal government of complicity in tackling activities of Islamic fundamentalists across the country. "Self-defence is neither a sin nor aggression. It is self-protection against unavoidable danger," the Director of Communications noted.
"The inability of the authorities to rein in these fundamentalists while they continue to kill, rape, destroy homes, farmlands and kidnap, is a confirmation of complicity on the part of the federal authorities. Among the thousands killed by armed herdsmen were priests, catechists, men, women and children of our faith.
Many parishes and outstations are closed, many cannot have the services of their pastors and they have no access to the sacraments. "Thousands are living in camps for the internally displaced with no hope of returning to their ancestral homes, and so cannot plan for the future of their children because many are out of school. The motive of the attack looks like it is all about grazing, but the fact that people are kidnapped away from farmlands, they are killed in the church or in their sleep, proves that the agenda is clearly extermination, Fulanization and Islamization," the 55-year old priest noted.
Persecution of Christians in Nigeria by Islamic fundamentalists has remained remorseless despite calls by Church authorities for government to provide adequate security for Christian communities and institutions across the country. It has even worsened since the inauguration of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
Earlier this week, two priests of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Fathers Joe Keke and Alphonsus Bello were abducted and Bello has been murdered already while the whereabouts of Keke is still unknown.
In Benue State, four priests have lost their lives to the activities of the fundamentalists since 2016 and several Christians communities have been displaced and many are taking shelter in squalid IDP camps in the state without clear hope of when they will return to their ancestral homes since their killers have continued to occupy them even with the continuous deployment of security agents to these troubled communities.
The Diocesan Laity Council Seminar which took place on May 22, 2021 at St. Peter's Parish, Low-Level, Makurdi, Benue State had participants drawn from all the parishes across the diocese with the Diocesan President, Daniel Kwaghza, Diocesan Chaplain, Father Theophilus Hwande, VC and the Coordinator of Justice, Peace and development Foundation, Makurdi Diocese, Father Remigius Ihyula were in attendance.
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