Outrage is growing over the failure of the Federal government to stop the year-long terrorist attacks against worshippers in the country, with Muslim and Christian leaders calling for action to rein in the Islamist group, Boko Haram.
Another 25 Christians and the pastor of a church were gunned down Monday evening in Okene in Kogi state near the capital of Abuja, with the death toll rising after initial reports had placed that number at 19.
“Those killing innocent people are heartless people who are not fearing their God. The incessant attacks are condemnable, it’s against the teaching of any religion, so those who are doing this act are criminals who will face God hereafter,” warned Sheikh Ahmed Gummi, an Islamic scholar in northern Kaduna. Nigeria is largely divided among Christians and Muslims, but the terrorist attacks being carried out by extremist Islamic group Boko Haram have been causing a deeper divide in Nigeria.
“There is no religion in the world that accepts killing of innocent people at their worshipping centers,” added Tunde Ishaku, a senior member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). “We have to be serious now to take urgent action for the sake of our lives and that of our followers.”
Although Nigerians have pleaded with President Goodluck Jonathan’s government and the international community to put an end to the terrorist attack that are happening almost on a weekly basis, Boko Haram’s dominance in the northern region remains powerful. The fundamentalist group has made it clear that it wants to wipe out all followers of Christ in the country.
The Prelate of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, in an interview in Abuja, warned that the country was drifting to anarchy.
He said, “At the rate we are going, the country is drifting fast into anarchy and if people now capitalise on that situation, it will degenerate to dog eat dog.
“If dog eats dog, that is the end of the country. So for me, we go back to government whose responsibility it is constitutionally to provide defence for the people.”
The cleric called on the Federal Government to utilise the taxpayers’ money to “provide protection for the people.”
He said, “The attack on the church is a damnable thing; it is evil. Again, it is not something people should feel that the church should be the one responsible to act. The church has no soldiers.
“It is the Federal Government and state governments that collect revenue from people and control the security organisations that can act.”
Also, the ACF, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, noted that the current attack on Okene was dastardly.
He said, “They (the gunmen) desecrate the holy month of Ramadan meant for sober reflection.
Meanwhile, Canada and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have condemned the Monday night attack on worshipers at the Deeper Life Church in Okene, Kogi State.
In a statement by the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird released by the country’s High Commission in Abuja yesterday, Canada sought for cooperation among Nigerians to bring the perpetrators of crime to justice.
The statement reads: “I am deeply saddened by the cowardly murder by gunmen of parishioners who were gathered in worship at a church in the town of Otite in Kogi state, Nigeria.
“Canada urges all people in Nigeria to work with the Nigerian government to counter terrorism and bring to justice those responsible for this reprehensible crime.
“No one should have to practise his or her faith in fear. Canada will continue to stand up for religious freedom
“On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those killed in these attacks, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”
CAN urged the Federal Government to change its tactics in the onslaught against the “murderous gangs”.
The organisation urged government to provide additional military and police cover for churches in the North.
It added that the terrorists in the North want to exterminate western education with a view to imposing Sharia law and Islamise Nigeria .
The President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, in a statement by his Special Assistant (Media and Public Affairs), Mr. Kenny Ashaka, also commiserated with the families of victims of the attack and the church.