22 June 2022, The Tablet

Are you still our leaders? asks bishop at Owo Mass  

Are you still our leaders? asks bishop at Owo Mass  

Flowers lie on caskets during thhe funeral Mass in the parish hall of St Francis Xavier Church in Owo.
CNS photo/Temilade Adelaja, Reuters

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo who spoke at a huge funeral Mass on 17 June for victims of the Pentecost attack in Owo had strong words for Nigeria's federal government, saying it has failed to demonstrate “any desire to protect the Christian religion.” Hundreds gathered for the funeral and burial of around 40 victims. Bishop Badejo named some of those killed saying that, “lying down here with them are the joys and hopes and aspirations of their families and loved ones, of the church of God, of the various communities from where they come, and indeed, of this country, Nigeria.” He added that “even the ones who are maimed and wounded… represent Nigeria with all her self-inflicted wounds, bruised brutalised and violated.” He blamed people in power who are failing to tackle Nigeria’s lack of security. “We are compelled to ask: ‘Nigeria, our leaders, are you still our leaders? Are we at war? How many more must die?’ Leaders must be leaders, not mere dealers,” he said.

In the latest assault on Christian communities, at least three worshippers were killed and about 40 kidnapped last Sunday at two churches in Kaduna State, north-west Nigeria. St Moses Catholic Church and Maranatha Baptist Church at the village of Rubuh were attacked by armed men, shooting at random, during an early morning Mass. It came two weeks after the killings on Pentecost Sunday of around 50 people at St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State. 

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja said on 12 June that, if these persistent attacks on the Catholic Church “are meant to scare us not to worship again or to speak out in favour of justice, it should be clear that nothing will stop us worshipping God and speaking the truth”.  

He lamented the lack of evidence about who the attackers are and voiced criticism that “all that our leaders care about now is guaranteeing their political future, and, oblivious of the rude happenings, they go on to spend incredible amounts in both local and foreign currencies to get elected”. He prayed “for the day when Christians, Muslims and Traditional religious worshippers will come together to unmask marauders living among us, now emboldened by the poor action of government and the relevant security agencies. Corrupt governance and insecurity threaten the present and future of Nigerians.”

Last weekend the Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, said that Nigeria now ranks as the ninth worst country for Christians to live in the world. Commenting on the government’s weak response to the security situation in Northern Nigeria he said: “As to what the state needs to do, they are still far away from that reality.”

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