By Arnold Neliba
LAGOS, JANUARY 27, 2023 (CISA)– “Nigeria is among the countries of the world in which Christians are most persecuted. We are all witnesses to the atrocities directed at communities that are predominantly Christian as it is in Benue and Plateau states,” said the Catholic bishops of the Lagos Ecclesiastical Province in a statement released at the end of their first plenary meeting for 2023.
A report dubbed ‘The Open Doors World Watch List 2023’, released on January 17, 2023, points out of the total of 5,621 Christians killed for their faith during the reporting period, Nigeria recorded 5,014, marking the country as one of the most dangerous places “to follow Jesus”.
The report indicates that violence against Christians “is most extreme in Nigeria where militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery.”
“This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation. … Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity,” reveals the report conducted from October 2021 to September 2022.
In their plenary, the bishops condemned the happenings in the country saying it “is not the same country that was bequeathed to us by our founding fathers.” They likened the state of the country to a ship that is sinking rapidly and that things are continuing to get out of hand.
“We, therefore, appeal to Nigerians in all walks of life, including professionals, politicians, media practitioners, the judiciary, security agencies, traditional rulers, the clergy, and, indeed, the populace in general, to join hands to rebuild our nation,” said the prelates appealing to Nigerians to make the necessary adjustments, stand for the truth, shun corruption and say ‘NO’ to vices.
As February 25, 2023, General Elections near, the bishops noted that the election is likely to be among the most contentious in the history of the country but also offers another unique opportunity for electorates to rise to their civic responsibility by voting for credible leaders with the capacity and competence to usher Nigerians to a new ‘lease of life’.