A series of bomb attacks were carried out in Nigeria on Christmas Day, 2011. Reports indicate that the Boko Haram Islamic group claimed responsibility for the attacks., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Christian leaders want solution to blasts
Thursday, 29 December 2011 00:00 From Oghogho Obayuwana, John-Abba Ogbodo, Emeka Anuforo, Lillian Chukwu (Abuja) and Chuks Collins (Awka)
Okogie blames govt for fresh violence
34 confirmed dead, victims decry rejection
THOUGH the Christmas day blasts may have quit smoldering, the pain and anger rankle as Christian leaders yesterday urged the Federal Government to “do more” in its desire to protect Nigerians from dastardly acts such as bomb blasts being detonated in parts of the country.
The President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritshejafor; erstwhile CAN leader, His Eminence, Sunday Mbang; as well as the parish priest of the ruined St. Theresa’s Catholic Church Madalla Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi made the call yesterday when a delegation of Christian leaders visited the bombed church premises.
The CAN delegation left the scene of the blast by 4.00pm. Madalla is about 50 minutes drive from Abuja.
Speaking to journalists after a combined prayer session by the faithful that had gathered inside the damaged building, Oritshejafor said: “We have said that this cannot be accepted. We are praying for those responsible for security in our country including the ones you see manning here now. But we want our leaders to have the political will to do more and take more action than we have seen... If you protect mad people and you think you are protecting your religion, you are wrong.”
Asked what should be the response from the aggrieved Christians now, he said: “These are difficult times. What has happened is difficult to take, we know this… but my appeal is: Do not revenge, protect yourselves...”
Muslim leaders had earlier also visited the church. Asked about the level of interfaith cooperation in the aftermath of the bomb blast, the CAN leader said: “We are happy that the Ulama came but we want to encourage them to go a step further. I keep saying this that the people doing this (bombing) are not spirits. Now there are many more things I wish to say but I cannot make any pronouncements now until after the conclusion of our meetings.”
Addressing the faithful earlier, Oritshejafor said the delegation had come to show solidarity. He quoted from the book of John 16:23, reminding the congregation of Jesus’ words: “I have overcome the world... our belief in God must be stronger now than before. You will hear from us. Nigeria will still be great. Nobody will reduce this country. No body will overthrow God’s plan for you. Be encouraged. Strength comes from God.”
In a joint prayer led by Mbang, the traumatised relatives of victims and Nigerian Christians were urged not to despair. Mbang said: “Although this is very difficult, but we do also pray today as you have taught us: Father forgive them (perpetrators of bomb blast) for they know not what they have done.”
The head of the Catholic faith in the country, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, yesterday described the prevailing state of insecurity in the nation as very worrisome and embarrassing.
The cleric, who spoke in Awka yesterday at the commissioning of the new N500 million St Peter’s Catholic Church complex built and furnished by a businessman, Dr. Austin Ndigwe, said the Boko Haram menace had been nearly pampered by the government to the chagrin of the observing international community.
“Even the bombs for the New Year day are ready, the government and the security agencies have failed the people”, he pointed out.
According to him, “the way Nigeria is going today, to say we are making progress is to deceive ourselves, especially under the present administration. We are not doing well at all, more so, as it appears that under this administration anything the masses want is what the government would work against…”
He noted that the Federal Government had not told Nigerians what it did with funds from similar policies as the removal of petroleum subsidy in the past or what it intended doing with the proceeds of the fuel subsidy removal. He cautioned those in government to desist from taking the electorate for fools.
Besides, three days after the Madalla, Sulieja bomb blasts, victims have decried lack of adequate medical attention. Reasons were also given for the initial rejection of victims by top hospitals as government dismisses any idea of medical evacuation to other countries.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu said 96 victims had been identified and 34 confirmed dead.
The Guardian learnt that emergency and referred cases were turned back at the hospitals due to the shortage of medical personnel, inadequate facilities of the health institutions to accommodate the already overwhelmed bedding capacities and lackadaisical attitude of some health professionals in the provision of quality healthcare services to victims.
But reliable sources told The Guardian that the main reason for the rejection was that “the government has not even redeemed the expenses incurred on treatment of victims of the last United Nations suicide bomb blast in August.”
According to the source, “it will be foolhardy for any medical institution that depends on such operational funds to embark on adequate treatment without assurance of further payment for the new blast cases.”
During a tour of the National Hospital Abuja (NHA), Gwagwalada Teaching Hospital (GTH) and State House Clinic by the minister yesterday, doctors at the GTH were seen preparing patients for transfer to the NHA for computerised tomography scans which were lacking in the “newly equipped hospital.”
A 32-year-old unemployed survivor of the blast, pleaded for more medical attention at GTH.
He said: “The doctors are compromising because they saw the minister. They should help us (victims) with better treatment,” he lamented.
The Chief Medical Director, GTH, Dr. Peter Alabi refused to address questions from the press on the matter just as his counterpart at the NHA, Prof. Bala Shehu refuted any claim of initial rejection of victims by the top hospital.
Reacting to the Christmas bombings, the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), advised Christians in the country not to engage in any reprisal attacks, noting that vengeance belongs to God.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, Ndoma-Egba noted that although the attacks on churches were becoming rampant, Christians in the country should engage in prayers for God to find a lasting solution to the development.
Besides, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said on Tuesday that over 10,000 persons were displaced by the recent blasts in Yobe State.