Tuesday, May 20, 2014 1:53 pm
Abuja – The Knights and Ladies of Saint John International Abuja, have urged President Goodluck Jonathan not to be distracted by those taking advantage of the current security challenges for “political grandstanding”.
This is contained in a statement by the group at the end of its nine-day praying and fasting for the rescue of the over 200 school girls kidnapped in Chibok on April 14.
The group called on Nigerians to keep fasting and praying for the safe return of the school girls, whom Boko Haram group had claimed responsibility for their kidnap.
They advised that “protestation and politicisation would not help the situation but would only complicate matters”.
The catholic knights commended Jonathan for his efforts in ensuring the safe return of the girls to their families and urged all well-meaning Nigerians to join hands with the government.
They prayed for the repentance of all those who had continued to perpetuate evil and terror on Nigeria.
“For those who have lost their lives we pray for the restful repose of their souls and divine consolation to their families.
“For those who have sustained injuries from various terrorist attacks we pray for God’s divine healing and quick recovery,” the statement said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that before a late evening mass on Monday, the group marched around Our Lady Queen of Nigeria in Area 3 Garki, Abuja, to conclude its nine-day intercession for the missing school girls.
Prof. Viola Onwuliri, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, read the only lesson at the service taken from Acts 14: 5-18 and led the responsorial psalm from Psalm 105.
The first scripture dwelt on the “good news” that from the word of God and later centred on the power of God to deliver His people in time of need and danger.
In his homily, Monsignor Ralph Madu, the Spiritual Director of the Knights, said the kidnapping in Borno had united Nigerians from every walk of life in prayer.
“Everybody has been praying and I have never seen Nigerians pray on an issue like this before and I know our prayer to God will not be in vain,” Madu said.
The cleric noted that Nigerians had been traumatised by the activities of Boko Haram in the northern part of the country and kidnapping by criminals in the southern part.
He said what was uppermost for many Nigerians was how to come out of these trauma and live normal lives again.
Madu expressed belief that President Jonathan’s recent comments that the kidnapping in Chibok would mark the beginning of the end of a painful episode in Nigeria’s history.
According to Jonathan, Boko Haram group, which is an affiliate of Al Qaeda in West Africa, has killed over 12,000 Nigerians since 2009 when it began terrorist operations.
NAN reports that the Federal government has deployed about 20,000 troops to Borno to rescue the innocent school girls abducted over five weeks ago.
Four countries bordering Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin republic declared war against the insurgents, at a Paris summit on security in Nigeria, hosted by the French government.