Herdsmen Killings: CAN Mobilises Churches for Nationwide Protests Sunday

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has embarked on a massive mobilisation of churches across the federation for peaceful protests on Sunday against incessant killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the country.

It was learnt that the association had sought the support of prominent clerics as well as the endorsement of influential Christians to make the exercise a success.

The Special Assistant (Media & Communications) to the CAN President, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, disclosed Friday that all was set for the protests against the killings of Christians as well as other Nigerians across the country.

The CAN President, Rev. Olasupo Ayokunle, had in a statement on Wednesday, urged Christians to hold peaceful protests within their church premises on April 29.

He made the call against the backdrop of the Tuesday killing of two priests and 17 worshippers at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Mbalom, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State. Hundreds of persons have been killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen across the country this year alone, especially in Benue and Taraba states.

He said, “CAN urges Christians in Nigeria to hold peaceful protests on the set-aside date, in the premises of their churches, asking the Federal Government and the security agencies to stop the unending killings and bloodshed in the country.

“Christians are to carry placards with inscriptions meant to address issues about sustained killings, attacks and destruction of their property in Nigeria. The inscriptions on placards could read, ‘Enough of bloodshed in Nigeria,’ ‘Enough of unlawful killings in the country’, ‘FG, release Leah Sharibu from bondage,’ ‘FG, stop herdsmen killings,’ and ‘CAN rejects FG’s poor handling of insecurity.’”

The statement blamed the continued killings on the failure of the government to mount an effective campaign against the killings by suspected herdsmen, noting that there was no visible plan to pacify the aggrieved persons.

Speaking in Abuja on Friday, the CAN spokesman stated that all chapters of CAN had been informed of the planned protests, noting that these chapters would send the message to all the churches in their domain.

He said, “We have informed every chapter of CAN; we have sent messages to church leaders. We have to make our impact felt. We cannot force anybody to do it, but they all know the position of CAN .”

When asked if CAN would apply for a police permit for the protest, the cleric responded that the church did not need a permit.

“Do I need a police permit to stand in front of my church and say this is my position? Do you need a police permit to address a press conference? A court has ruled that for every peaceful protest, you don’t need a police permit. The highest court in the land also affirmed it. You don’t need a police permit to stage a peaceful protest; we have freedom of assembly and association,” he said.

Oladeji expressed confidence that the protest would be successful, noting that even if only a few churches participated, the Christian faithful would have sent a message to the world that they were not pleased with the situation in the country.

CAN has also described the President as being more interested in re-election than in the protection of lives and well-being of Nigerians, noting that the President did not care about the number of citizens that may end up as sacrificial lambs for his ambition.

Speaking to journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Friday, the General-Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa Asake, catalogued the killings and bloodshed across the country, noting that the Buhari-led administration had returned the nation to the Dark Age.

“War seems to be looming in Nigeria while the aggressors are no other than misguided individuals who had been armed to provoke different communities into needless battles.

“Yet, President Buhari, who was popularly elected in 2015, has not seen the need and urgency to issue a presidential order on the need to halt the killings and with stern instruction to heads of security operatives to bring perpetrators to book.

“The Dark Age has come with the administration of President Buhari in Nigeria, (which) is giving the Christians in this country a huge concern.

“All the same, Mr. President has his own interests, the most imprtant of which is to seek re-election to remain in power beyond 2019 and continue with the reign of terror in Nigeria. It does not matter how many Nigerians will end up as sacrificial lambs on that single ambition.”

Meanwhile, the Benue State chapter of CAN has said that Christians in the state are set to comply with the directive of the national leadership of the organisation.

The state CAN chairman, Rev. Akpen Leva, further said that after the protest on Sunday, there would be seven days of prayer and fast, to commence on Monday.

He further said that the directive would be communicated to the local churches in Benue latest by Saturday (today).




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