Nigerian bishops and faithful staged a protest march on Sunday in the nation’s capital of Abuja to denounce the ongoing abductions and massacres of Christians by Islamist militants.
Led by the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Akubueze, the protesters accused the federal government of Muhammadu Buhari of being insensitive to the plight of victims and ineffective in dealing with the violent epidemic.
All dressed in black, the demonstrators marched and prayed, explaining that they were protesting on behalf of the over 50 million Catholics and 100 million Christians in Nigeria.
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Ignatius Kaigama, called on Nigerians to turn to God to save the country from the grip of insurgents, bandits, and kidnappers, while decrying the federal government’s culpable negligence in fighting insurgency.
For his part, Archbishop Akubueze denounced the ongoing, targeted violence on Christians.
“The killing of God’s children is evil; the failure to protect innocent people from the relentless attacks is evil; the lack of prosecution of terrorists is evil; our government’s response to terrorist attacks is, for lack of better words, far below average,” the archbishop declared.
“There have been too many mass burials, too many kidnappings of school children, travelers, invasion of people’s homes, invasion of sacred places like churches, mosques and seminaries,” he said.
Akubueze said that Nigerians are fed up with claims by the government that Boko Haram has been technically defeated, when in reality jihadists continue wreaking havoc on the population with little to no resistance.
Addressing President Buhari, the archbishop said: “Your silence is sowing and breeding seeds of mistrust and the longer it stays this way, the more you lose those who could have given you the benefit of the doubt.”
“As things stand now, it appears only a few Nigerians can defend you with reasons, only a few Nigerians can argue that your silence is not an endorsement of the barbaric actions of these terrorists and criminals,” he said.
The archbishop also said that the government’s inaction following the brutal beheading of Christian pastor Rev. Lawan Andimi suggests there will be no consequences for those responsible.
“Nigerians are tired of reading of such killings as that of an orphan seminarian who was just 18 years old and of a young wife and mother,” he said. “Nigerians are tired of hearing of the inexcusable actions of the government in their response to these and many other sad cases.”
“As we march, pray and protest today, we want all Catholics in Nigeria not to be hopeless, we want Catholics and other well-meaning patriotic Nigerians to stand together and fight this terrorism,” he said.