By SAM EYOBOKA
AS sectarian killings continued in Plateau and Borno states, creating fears in Christians in other parts of the North, the national vice president of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in charge of South West zone, Bishop Wale Oke has appealed to Christians in northern parts of the country to resist the temptation for reprisal in retaliation for the several violent attacks against them.
The presiding bishop of the Sword of the Spirit Church, Ibadan, who was reacting to calls by some church leaders on northern Christians to return fire for fire, said such measure is against the teachings of the progenitor of the Christian faith.
Rather than retaliate, Oke sued for non-violent approach to the ceaseless sectarian attacks on churches and Christians in Jos and Maiduguri especially and the North as a whole.
According to him, violence cannot conquer violence, stressing that the global church still carries the burden and scar of the crusaders’ violent campaign to reclaim the city of Jerusalem several years ago.
“When you don’t fight back, you put a burden on the conscience of your attackers,” Oke said, “you are on a stronger pedestal. That burden wears them out and they feel stupid. But when you fight back, the spiral unending cycle of violence will degenerate into a full-blown war.
“If the Church fights back, it will breed hatred, bitterness and hindered prayers. Violence will put blood in your hands and you cannot approach God with such blood on your hands. It will hinder evangelical efforts because you cannot win a man you attack,” he continued.
Urging Christians to resist violence with love and forgiveness, the bishop pointed out that the moment the “Church begins to resist violence with love, forgiveness and mercy, then the violence has a terminal date. At the end, they will become tired of hitting you; their conscience will burden them.”
Oke further charged northern Christians to launch, what he called ‘vigilante groups’ and be security alert, while also moving en mass to avoid falling prey to violent attacks from religious fundamentalists who now go about the whole place in motorcycles seeking who they would slaughter.
He therefore called on the Federal Government to improve security in the North, warning that the ceaseless crises could snowball into a big war if the government does not now make deliberate effort to arrest it.