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From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Christians across the country held a peaceful protest on Sunday to register their displeasure with the maltreatment of Christians across the country especially in the north which culminated in the recent gruesome murder of Deborah Samuel, a 200 level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, last week.
The nationwide protest was in compliance with the directives of the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that peaceful protest should be held across the churches nationwide to raise global consciousness to the plight of Christians in Nigeria especially in north.
CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle Olasupo, had in a statement early last week, asked all CAN bloc leaders, zonal chairmen, state chairmen, local coordinators, denominational and church leaders to prepare their members for nationwide peaceful protest.
He directed that the peaceful action should not take place on the streets as usual in order to avoid further losses, but should take place at every secretariat of CAN nationwide, and those without CAN secretariat should use any church with big premises.
He asked church leaders and their members to hold placards with some succinct messages like “we demand justice for Deborah, no more killing in God’s name, enough is enough, police stop unprovoked killings in Nigeria, Christians are not second class citizens, killers of Deborah must be prosecuted, we condemn religious killings, we say no to Islamic extremists.”
The protest, however, took different shape and style across different churches in Abuja, on Sunday, as directed by the CAN President.
At Redeemed Christian Church of God, Wuse 2, Abuja, worshippers moved round the church premises with placards bearing different inscriptions as directed by CAN leadership. Unlike other places, they sealed their mouth which, perhaps, signified torture.
Similarly, there was also total compliance to the CAN directive at All Christian Fellowship Mission, Maitama, Abuja. Worshippers were led by the church leaders for the peaceful protest within the church premises as directed by the leadership of CAN.
The story was not different at the University Baptist Church, Gwagwalada, Abuja. The Pastor, Bayo Oladeji, told The Sun that 30 minutes was dedicated to the protest. “We prayed for the church in Nigeria that is, obviously, under siege; we prayed for the soul of late Deborah and her family, and finally, we prayed for Nigeria,” he said.
At the First Baptist Church, Garki, Abuja, worshippers observed the peaceful protest also armed with placards bearing several inscriptions to, perhaps, register their displeasure with the treatment being meted to Christians in Nigeria.
The CAN President had on Saturday, alerted that there was intelligence information that indicated that some non-Christians had planned to counter and infiltrate the peaceful protest with the intention to cause chaos and attribute it to Christians, hence the decision of CAN leadership to review the planned nationwide peaceful protest, asking members to rather engage in protest of “placard carrying” within the premises of their local churches or CAN Secretariat as against the initial plan of going beyond but not on the streets.