By Gbenga Gbelee
As the remains of the two slain priests and 17 parishioners killed in Benue
state in April were being interred today, Catholic faithful across Nigeria
embarked on a nationwide peaceful protest to register their dissatisfaction
over the gruesome killings and call for an end to it.
The protest is in compliance with the directive by the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of Nigeria that all Catholic faithful across the country should
embark on a peaceful and prayerful protest tagged; ‘March for Life’.
The members were directed to be dressed in all Catholic society groups,
apostolate, Bishop’s installation or parish uniforms while does who do not
have any of the attires were advised to kit themselves in a white top,
priests were specifically directed to be in cassock and habits.
Remains of the 2 priests Revd. Fr. Joseph Gor and Revd. Fr. Felix as well
as 17 congregation members who were victims of the attack were
committed to mother-earth at the Ayati pilgrims’ site near Ikpayongo in
Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue state.
Reports from Oyo state indicates that the Parishioners, Priests, vicars and
reverend sisters converged on the SS Peter and Paul Major seminary in
Bodija area of Ibadan and were led in a procession By Archbishop Gabrial
Leke Abegunrin to the state secretariat, Agodi area where they were
received by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. Gbade Ojo.
The protesters were armed with placards bearing different descriptions
which all centred on the core of the protest being an end to the attacks and
wanton killings, justice for the deceased and respect for the sanctity of
In Ogun state, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta, Bishop
Olukayode Odetoyinbo led the peaceful protest along major streets of the
state capital; Abeokuta.
The protest was preceded by a requiem mass held at St. Anne Catholic
Church, Ibara, Abeokuta where the Bishop prayed for the repose of the
souls of the deceased and for restoration of peace across Nigeria.
Catholic faithful and clergy under the Archdiocese of Benin, Edo state also
trooped out in their numbers on the streets of Benin joining their fellows
across the country to register their displeasure over the heartless killings
and havoc being wreaked on innocent human lifes and properties by
In Taraba state, the Catholic Bishop of Jalingo Diocese, The Most Rev. Dr.
Charles Hammawa presided over the requiem mass held at Our Lady
Queen of Peace Cathedral, Jalingo, in solidarity with the burial of the
maimed priests and parishioners.
In his sermon, Bishop Mammawa called on the federal government to
protect the sanctity of human lives to calm the growing tension in the
It would be recalled that the two priests and 17 of the parishioners had
converged on St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Mbalom in Gwer East Local
Government Area of Benue State with other worshippers for a morning
mass on the 24 th of April during which they were attacked and maimed.