Pentecostal Terrorism!

Ozodinukwe Okenwa

Ozodinukwe Okenwa

Last Sunday in St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo Town, Ondo State, pure terrorism was on full display as unknown gunmen invaded the church during service shooting sporadically and indiscrimately and killing scores of worshippers including women and children. Many more were wounded as the temple was violated. It was a scene of horror and bestiality of man. It is not that we are not used to terrorism or horrendous occurences but this particular massacre presented another image of our descent into barbarism.

Nigeria is becoming more and more terrorized entity with people living dangerously. Since democracy was restored after decades of dictatorship in 1999 the country has never had it so bad, so ugly! Yet, the worst seems be in the offing. Tomorrow may well prove to be worse than today!

In many Christian countries Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, believers are traditionally celebrating the religious annual event with prayers and adoration of the resurrected Christ. As we celebrate Jesus the Christ and His redemptive exploits in our sinful lives we are confronted with terrorism of the worst kind in our embattled homeland.

Yesterday we heard about Deborah Samuel, a young lady-student lynched and burnt to ashes in Sokoto for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Muhammad. Yesterday equally in Abuja we saw how a mob pounced on one Ahmad Usman killing him gruesomely following a row with an Islamic cleric! Yesterday, too, we heard the chilling details of how the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Samuel Kanu, and two others were kidnapped somewhere in Abia State and how they shelled out millions of Naira for their freedom!

Again yesterday we heard about how one Apostle Delight Uzo was abducted and stabbed mercilessly in the chest and stomach by Fulani herdsmen. He is currently battling to remain alive in a hospital! And today the nation mourns yet again the brutal assassination of Christians inside a Catholic Church in Owo. Worshipping the Most High God is now a crime punishable by terrorism! Grief has seized the land and blood flows from almost every region.

Recently suspected terrorists had invaded the premises of St. Mary Immaculate Church in Aho community of Owukpa, in the Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State. They abducted the Priest’s cook when they could not lay their hands on his principal.

Few days ago reports online indicated that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Mike Ogiasa, had been abducted by gunmen in Bayelsa State. He is yet to regain his freedom. The former Commissioner for Special Duties in charge of federal projects in the state was captured as he went home following an official outing.

President Muhammadu Buhari was unusually swift in his reaction to the massacre in Owo, Ondo State, condemning same and reportedly heaping ‘curses’ on the perpetrators. Yet it goes beyond denunciations and raining curses on the satanic elements. Something must give if we must stay united as brothers and sisters. Justice must be served the victims to deter others from pursuing the same murderous way.

Nigeria is daily battered and bloodied by terrorist elements hell-bent on provoking a religious conflict, one that could lead to the disintegration of the nation. If what Primate Kanu, the abducted and released Methodist man of God, said was to be taken seriously then Nigeria is doomed. Fulani cattle herders, according to him, were responsible for their abduction. He declared ominously that these uncircumsized outlaws made it clear that they were waiting for the right moment to strike invading the entire Igboland with the aim of dominating the land!

Now, in a nation divided along ethnic and religious lines leadership at the centre has criminally demonstrated abominable incapacity to secure lives and properties of our people. We are living in an era when the sanctity of life means nothing to our tormentors.

Since our independence in 1960 Fulanis had presided over our national affairs but at no point in history have we witnessed these daily horrific incidents in our miserable lives. President Buhari, wittingly or unwittingly, has emboldened his kinsmen by his inaction and/or complicity in their dastardly criminal activities. He stands accused of aiding and abetting their territorial conquest! And their profitable abduction ventures.

Primate Uche had alleged explosively that he suspected military collusion in their abduction. Since the militarization of the South-east region, more or less by predominantly Fulani-dominated soldiers and para-military elements, we have not seen any amelioration of the security challenges in Igboland. What we see, instead, is a recrudescence of violence and state terrorism.

Hundreds had lost their lives and hundreds more caught in the crossfire between the unknown gunmen and the security forces. Yet security remains a primary concern everywhere! No where is safe any longer and no one is spared of the venomous reach of the kidnappers, bandits and terrorists.

In Anambra State, armed criminals had been on the rampage killing, committing arson and kidnapping people for ransom. Governor Soludo appears overwhelmed by the consistent display of audacity in the perpetuation of these heinous crimes.

We believe patriotically that Nigeria, as presently constituted federally, cannot sustain itself unless restructuring occurs one way or another. Those against this robust argument for radical systemic change are living on borrowed times! We can afford to postpone the doomsday but we cannot afford to ignore its catastrophic consequences.

The Pentecostal terrorism in Owo town must interrogate our collective consciousness as a people terrorized. Besides, Buharism must be held accountable since the primary purpose of governance remains the security of lives and properties. He could elect to quit now and save us the impending mayhem, chaos and anarchy.

May the souls of those butchered at St. Francis Catholic Church make heaven! We grieve for them!


SOC Okenwa

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