‘They shall put you out of the synagogues (churches); yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God’s service and these things will they do unto you because they have not known the Father nor me.’   – St. John 16:2-3
The newspaper headlines are heady, hurting and haunting on the terrorist attack on Owo. On his part, President Muhammadu Buhari promised that: “Eternal sorrow awaits perpetrators”. But have we not heard such pledges from him, severally before this conscienceless carnage of some Christian faithful? Yes, we have. In fact, they become more like vacuous clichés that epitomize the crass failure of those in government to protect the lives of innocent citizens, as enshrined in Section 14, Sub section 2(b) of the 1999 constitution(as amended).
Worse still, how many of those behind the killing spree, from Bornu to Benue, Zamfara to Plateau down South to Imo and Anambra, Oyo and now Owo have been brought to justice? Few, if any. And that takes my mind back to my book titled: “God’s Warning: Stop the Bloodshed Now!” made free on my blog: ayooyozebaje.blogspot.comas written late in 2016. It would be recalled that I warned back then that: “the battle has just started, at least, here in Nigeria. For instance, just when many thought that the flames of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East were about to be extinguished; it metamorphosed into the cruel and callous attacks by some Fulani herdsmen, armed to the teeth against innocent citizens. From Plateau through Taraba, Benue to Enugu states; it has been blood-letting trails of anguish and pains. Yet, the victims suffered as if there were no government in place. But that is not all.”
On June 2, 2016, Bridget Agbahime, the 74-year-old kitchen utensils trader from Imo State was brutally attacked and killed at Kofar Wambai market in Kano by a Muslim mob who accused her of blasphemy. But a Kano Magistrates’ Court discharged all the five suspects, who allegedly killed her!
In a similar mindless manner, Mrs. Eunice Elisha, the 42-year-old mother of seven and the wife of a Redeemed Pastor was gruesomely murdered in cold blood in the early hours of Saturday, July 9, 2016,  by suspected Muslim fanatics while evangelizing around Gbazango and Pipeline area of Kubwa, a satellite town in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Also, on August 25, of the same year, some eight Christians were sent to their early graves in Talata-Mafara in Zamfara State. But the then Governor Yari claimed that the victims were not Christians and that they were killed over a false alarm.
Furthermore, on December 6, 2016, it was reported that Christian youths had threatened to resort to self-defence any time Fulani herdsmen attack any village in the Southern Kaduna local council of the state. Fifty-three villages had so far been attacked and 57 people injured, by then. The youths premised their threat on the alleged complacency or complicity of the security agencies and politicians in the attacks.
Not done, on December 29, 2016, Premium Times reported that the Catholic Archdiocese of Kafanchan, Ibrahim Yakubu claimed that the unrest in southern Kaduna State had claimed 808 lives. According to them, since Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has claimed that the Fulani terrorists killing Christians were foreigners, the Federal Government should close Nigeria’s borders with Chad, Cameroon and Benin Republic without delay.
All these clearly avoidable tragedies sparked national and global outrage, at least, amongst Christians and Human Rights activists. That should take us back to the recent tragedy in Ondo state. According to newspaper reports, “bombs exploded and bullets rained at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, on Sunday, June 5, 2023 afternoon by gunmen and at the end, 50 worshippers laid dead, signalling the arrival of the massacre of the innocent in the South.”
Those sent to their early graves in the church included family members, children, and pregnant women. Another eyewitness said the gunmen, who disguised as worshippers, detonated explosives suspected to be dynamite and later opened fire on members of the church. One of the priests at the church, Rev. Father Andrew Abayomi, who narrated how the church was attacked, said the gunmen also bombed the church. The killers said to be four in number, allegedly arrived at the church premises a few minutes before 11 am in a Volkswagen Golf vehicle which was parked at the entrance of the church.
Abayomi said: “We were about to round off service. I had even asked people to start leaving when we started hearing gunshots from different angles. We hid inside the church but some people had left when the attack happened. We locked ourselves in the church for 20 minutes. When we heard that they had left, we opened the church and rushed victims to the hospital.” The questions that the clearly avoidable mayhem trigger in the public sphere are profound.
For how long are we going to tolerate the mindless killings of innocent citizens, including even people at the places of worship, meant to be sacred here in Nigeria? For how long would those in government, entrusted with the protection of the irreplaceable lives of defenceless citizens keep failing to do the needful? How many Nigerians who were alive in 2009, when the Boko Haram insurgency started to escalate are still with us today? How many of those were alive when the successive administrations under both the PDP and APC came into being? How many have been wasted by armed insurgents, religious extremists, brazen bandits and killer Fulani herdsmen, over the years?
Furthermore, does it not stand logic on its head that the perpetrators of these killings, who are supposed to face the full wrath of the law are presented as ‘repentant terrorists’ to the public as having turned over a new leaf overnight, slapped on the wrists and told to go and sin no more! We are even told that they have been ‘de-radicalized’, as they are fed, clothed and educated with public fund!
The wrong notion that this gives to peace-loving Nigerians is that the lives of the killers are more important than those of their voiceless victims! To the Christians, I refer you to these Biblical verses: “Let favour be shown to the wicked. Yet will he not learn righteousness in the land of uprightness; will he deal unjustly and will not behold the majesty of the LORD”. Isaiah 26:10
Instead, we should heed the Word of God that says: “Therefore, put away from among yourselves that wicked person”. 1 Corinthians 5:13. “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.”-Isaiah 59:7.
Certainly, we cannot go on to tread on this woeful, bloody path that will lead to the break-up of our fragile unity, because, all said and done, there can be no peace without justice!
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