By Sam Eyoboka
LAGOS — UMBRELLA body of Christians in Nigeria, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, yesterday decried the continued violence in Borno and Plateau state capitals and the attendant killings of Christians, urging politicians to be careful not to plunge the nation into a religious war in their desperation to rule.

Speaking in a telephone interview last night over the pervading tension in Jos as traders closed their shops, National President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, warned politicians who are suspected to be behind all the sectarian crises in the North, against the consequences of plunging the nation into a religious war.

Oritsejafor last Saturday lead a delegation of Christian leaders on a condolence visit to Jos and Maiduguri to commiserate with victims of past crises where he held meetings with stakeholders including the governors, religious and traditional rulers, stressing the need for peace in the region and in the country generally.

“We were in Jos and Maiduguri on Saturday and we met with both governors, traditional and religious leaders in both places. We also visited some of the victims of the crises and commiserated with them directly. We also used the occasion to preach peace in the nation especially as we approach another elections.

“That was on Saturday. The nation woke up the next day to the news of another violent disruptions in parts of Jos and Maiduguri where several innocent individuals, including a policeman were again despatched to the great beyond. Just look at that! What kind of a people take delight in slaughtering fellow human beings?

“As far as I know, there is no religion in the world, that does not acknowledge the fact that the human life is sacred. All religions believe and preach that God created man and therefore no man has any right to take the life of another. Only God has the right to take human life,” Oritsejafor explained.

Visibly angered by the renewed killings in Jos, the CAN president said: “I agree with people who say the war is political; but I am still at a loss why the perpetrators of the violence not burning political party offices? Why are they not targeting political opponents? Why are they not burning political flags?”

“Why are they also targeting innocent Christians living in the rural areas when they can easily settle their scores among themselves? How can one explain the killing of a man and his entire family in their sleep? What on earth do you call such barbaric act?” Pastor Oritsejafor kept asking in a tearful voice.

While reiterating his appeal to Christian youth in the country and especially in the North to remain calm, he warned politicians that the continued killing of Christians in parts of the North may invariably lead to reprisal attacks by aggrieved Christian youths who are daily being prevailed upon by peace_loving Christian leaders to stay calm even in the face of provocation.

He therefore appealed to the Federal Government to take decisive steps now to forestall attempts by desperate politicians who are bent on scuttling the current political transition, adding that Christians should be isolated from political differences among political gladiators.
Drawing inspiration from the Holy Scriptures, Pastor Oritsejafor said evil thrives because justice is not done to appease the wronged and to serve as deterrent to others with similar propensity to do evil.

“As we approach the critical moments of the 2011 election which is very crucial to the corporate existence of the country, there is the urgent need for the Federal Government to nip all volatile situations in any part of the country in the bud to avoid anything that can scuttle the current democratic process,” he warned.

According to Pastor Oritsejafor, “the times are evil and unless the government demonstrates the needed political will to deal with the situation and allow peace to reign and people go about their businesses without fear and trepidation, I am afraid of what it might lead to.”

Speaking on the forthcoming voters’ registration exercise, the founder of Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, also appealed to Nigerians irrespective of their religious inclinations or tribal lineages, to troop out from January 15 when the INEC begins its voters’ registration exercise to register their names.

“Everybody is currently clamouring for free, fair and credible elections, but there cannot be any credible election unless we all register. Any Nigerian who is above the age of 18 should go out within the 14 days allocated for the exercise to register and be prepared to vote any candidate of his/her choice whenever INEC is ready to conduct the elections,” the CAN president appealed.

Oritsejafor also enjoined the Federal Government to ensure the safety of all youth corpers who will be involved in either the voters’ registration exercise or the actual elections later in the year, saying that parents are agitated about the safety of their children.

“Politicians in Nigeria are a desperate lot and therefore the Federal Government and the security organisations in the country must ensure that the lives of these innocent children are protected before, during and after the two exercises,” he stated, adding that armed policemen should be deployed to all the polling units to ensure security of permanent and ad hoc INEC staff and property.

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