Activities including vehicular movements were brought to a halt for several hours along major routes and streets of Benin, the capital town of Benin, Edo State as Catholic faithful of Benin Archdiocese in their large numbers protested against the killings of their priests and members as well as others across the nation.
This came as the chairman, sub-Committee of the Centenary Torch Movement of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, (BCS), Christ Ambassador Emmanuel Inor, also yesterday appealed to Christians to embrace peace and emulate the canon manifestations of Christ Jesus to avoid conflicts as the country goes through her most critical times.
The protesters from across the 18 local government councils and three senatorial districts of the state with placards of various inscriptions and attires included the clergies and laity, had defied an early morning rain within the metropolis.
The protest began as early as 8:am when they converged on the St. Paul Catholic Church on the busy Airport Road, Benin from where they took off and marched towards the Kings Square and other major streets with strong condemnation and rejection of what they described as federal government’s poor handling of the security issues as they regard the wanton killings and onslaught that led to destruction of properties that made most victims homeless while many also are now orphans and widows.
They warned against turning the Nigerian Nation into an animal kingdom even as they insisted that cattle grazing is a private business.
Some of the placards carried by the faithful read; “the Catholic Church in Nigeria rejects Federal Government of Nigeria’s poor handling of security in the country”, “Stop rendering people homeless”; “Cattle grazing is a private business,” “Please, do not turn Nigeria into an animal kingdom”.
The protesters had proceeded from the Kings Square popularly known as Ring Road and ended at the Holy Cross Cathedral on the Mission road in the town.
The Arch-Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin, Most Rev. Dr. Augustine Akubeze told journalists that the wanton killings across the country have become worrisome and unbearable, particularly, the gruesome murder of two priests and 17 worshippers in Markurdi which necessitated the peaceful protest.
Bishop Akubuexe said “There are many gruesome killings in the country and the hallmark of it is the killing of the Catholic priests along with the 17 parishioners in Makurdi. So this very date today, the Bishops are gathered in Makurdi to celebrate the mass of the death for those two priests and the other parishioners. It is the height of the insecurity in the country. So that is what prompted this action,” (protest).
Represented by Very Reverend Father Augustine Ehigie, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Benin, Bishop Akubueze noted that those who involved in the killings should not be allowed to go scot-free rather their actions must be criminalized.
They also called for adequate security beef up across the country to checkmate the excesses of hoodlums and masterminds of the acts.
He stated that “First and foremost, those who are involved should be criminalized. We do not want an ambiguous statement about it. They should call a spade a spade. Secondly, they have to beef up the security across the country. More so, let people love themselves. Now, people are disenchanted.”
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Inor, who spoke with newsmen in Benin ahead of the preparations to mark Hundred years of the founder and Leader, Olumba Olumba Obu on earth with the grand finale holding in Cross River State in the coming months, said the centenary torch movement to Edo state is part of the drive to create more awareness across the states of the nation to save mankind from the impending destruction and channel their efforts towards the doctrines as propagated by Jesus Christ.
Christ ambassador Inor expressed disappointment over growing rate of discrimination among Christians.
He said as a body, there is an urgent need to preach peace and unity by all.
According to him, it was the collective responsibilities of all as exemplified by the founder and leader of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, Olumba Olumba Obu.
The cleric said, “We are celebrating the hundred years of the physical manifestation of Olumba Olumba Obu on Earth. We are telling all to be part of this celebration that will climax in December. A lot of people have said that if brotherhood of the Cross and Star is operating like other churches many people would have been members of the church. They have issues with us wearing the long robe with bare feet and calling man God. That’s the problem.”
Inor, therefore, called on all Christians and stakeholders to put into practice the messages of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“If we practice as it is written, there would be no war. If Israel loves Palestine there would be no war. If Nigeria loves Ghana there would be no war; Brethrens don’t hate me and I won’t hate you. Don’t hate pastors from other churches but love ye one another”.