Lent: Banditry, kidnappings for ransom, blood sheds must stop – Rev Fr Onyema

…Says religion must not be use as dividing line

Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna, Rev Fr. Stephen Onyema, has said
insecurity occasioned by terrorism, banditry, kidnappings for ransom and blood sheds must stop in Nigeria, saying it should be condemned by both sides.

Speaking during breaking of fast in Kaduna on Friday, organized by the Catholic Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria, (CAMPAN) Kaduna chapter, Rev Fr. Onyema said banditry, kidnappings for ransom and blood sheds were not part of us, neither are they part of our cultures and customs, hence such devilish acts must be condemned by all.

He averred that the Lenten season and Ramadan are periods of fasting, praying and almsgiving, adding that it was also a time to repent, relent, return and be redeemed.

He urged Nigerians to use the periods of Lent and Ramadan to seek the face of God for an end to evil and terrorism in the country and Kaduna State.

“Let us use this season to pray for all those who are still in the hands of kidnappers, that God will bring them back to us safe and sound.

“We must pray for the conversion of the perpetrators of these evil acts, both religions must pray for the peaceful repose of the souls killed in our Nation and State.

“We must seize the opportunity to pray and promote the common good of every Nigerian.

“Every human being is believed to have come from one God. In our diversity we still believe in one God the creator and maker of all things. Every human being is believed to be political and spiritual.

“Dear friends, our diversity should be seen as a blessing not a curse. It should be seen as an educating and uniting force in our nation, institutions and state.

“No man is an island, we all need each other to make progress in life. We all need each other to build a better Nation.

“We have over three hundred tribes in Nigeria and three major religions. We must not be seen competing with each other. We must support one another in every possible way.

“Religion must not be used as a dividing line. Very soon elections will be around the corner, please let us encourage people to vote competence and credibility other than party, religion and ethnicity.

“We must put the Nigerian project first. We must push for the unity and success of our Nation above personal interest,” he stated.

While looking forward to making the event an annual one, the Director of Social Communications, appreciated the initiators and organisers, saying it was first of it’s kind.

He also commended the Catholic Social Center Management for providing CAMPAN with a conducive environment for the event.

Speaking on Christian perspective, a Director of Christian-Muslim Peace Unity and Development Initiative, Mr. Diji Obadiah, said what brings peace and peaceful coexistence in any given society is when people love one another as the scripture enjoin us to do.

He urged Nigerians to tolerate and respect one another, share with kindness, and think positively.

In his contribution, Chairman of Interreligious Dialogue Commission, Catholic Archdiocese Kaduna, Hon Philip Yusuf Arage, said the Catholic Church has been involved in dialogue for over 7years now, saying dialogue was not an option but imperative.

The Chairman who disclosed that he is one of founders of “Cross News” a Catholic Church news digest, said just before the event the Church finished a synod on solidarity.

He said all through the programme they were able to get opinions of African traditional leaders, Muslims, people from other beliefs, and those who do not belong.

He added that the coming together of people with different faiths at this point in time that Nigeria is about to go through elections with attendants serious campaigns, we need to be bridge builders.

“On March 28, 2022 the Church had programme on dialogue and security, and we were able to invite people from different faiths, commissioner of police, DSS, 1Div, among others. I’m happy to see the Breaking of Fasting is also coming on board.”

According to Arage, “For us to continue in peace, the role of the Fourth Estate of the Realm can never be overemphasized,” urging media practitioners, “not to underestimate their values and number because the power of living in peace and successfully holding the economy of the country rest on communication, it is a vital aspect,” he said.