Terror war: Holding down liberated territories – Punch

Terror war: Holding down liberated territories – Punch

Carnage by Boko Haram Islamists since their campaign to enthrone a caliphate in the country started 10 years ago has been horrifying. In the three North-East states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, which are the epicentre of this malevolence, towns and villages have been burnt and have become largely desolate. Many of the about 1.9 million victims and survivors in internally displaced persons camps are living in privation. Ending the terrorists’ orgy of bloodletting demands a new approach. Securing liberated territories permanently against Boko Haram’s counter-attacks should be part of this strategy.
To date, the jihadists continue to make territorial gains and occasionally recapture strategic border villages. This is why the country seems to be experiencing a reversal of fortunes in the war on terror. Evidence abounds where the IDPs returned to their villages but were wiped out sooner than later. As a result, Dambazao, Gwazo, Damask, Nganzi, Gamboru-Ngala, Buni Yadi, Mungono, Mafa, Dikwa, and Damaturu-Maiduguri Highway, among others, are always in the news for the wrong reasons.
The Islamists had been routed in many of these places by the Nigerian military whose onslaughts against them, led to their ejection from the 27 Local Government Areas they had once occupied in the three states. Sadly, recent developments indicate their resurgence, buoyed by the support or involvement of ISIS’ franchisee, the Islamic State in West Africa Province. When the fundamentalists are not retaking some liberated areas, they are being repelled by the military through a combined air and land mauling.
Earlier gains by the military misled the Federal Government to believe that “Boko Haram has been technically defeated.” The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), therefore, often indulged in the triumphalism, echoing that no Nigerian territory was under the jihadists’ control. Many Nigerians never shared this seemingly cheery mood. In fact, present evidence shows that the so-called degraded rogue army is still very active.
A defeated Boko Haram cannot routinely attack military fortresses or invade villages to slaughter defenceless citizens the way it did July last year when it murdered 65 people during a funeral ceremony in the Nganza district, near the Borno State capital, Maiduguri. Just last Sunday, the jihadists killed 30 travellers, abducted others and burnt vehicles in Auno village close to a military checkpoint, on the Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway.
The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, revealed in December that three LGAs – Marte, Kukawa and Abadam – were under Boko Haram control. Many displaced persons could not return to their bases owing to the fear of Boko Haram attacks. A former Commissioner for Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Usman Zannah, noted that despite the fact that many communities had been liberated, over 350,000 displaced persons were still holed up in resettlement camps. The then Kashim Shettima-led government had appealed to the National Orientation Agency and Nigerian Peace Corps to sensitise them to the need to possibly return to their homes to re-launch their lives. Under the Kampala Convention, IDPs are not forced to return home.
Nigeria should go back to its security drawing board. It is clear that the scorched-earth military approach alone is not enough to defeat jihadists anywhere in the world. It took five years of being ahead of them in strategy, intelligence and equipment for the United States-backed Syria Democratic Front to announce in March 2019 that ISIS had been ousted from Iraq and Syria. The then United Kingdom Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, was spot on with the response that “… we cannot be complacent. They’ve dispersed, and they’ll continue to pose a threat… and that is why we will always remain vigilant.” About 5,200 US soldiers are still in Iraq as part of the agreement to maintain the peace or keep ISIS in check.
Defeating jihadists does not come easy. Forming a broad international coalition will not be out of place. On December 3, 2014, at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, diplomats and foreign ministers from 59 countries gathered to plot a way forward against the threat of ISIS. The Buhari regime should acknowledge that the Boko Haram terror campaign has become a global challenge. Nigeria should, therefore, request foreign assistance from friendly partners to improve its military campaign, block the flow of foreign fighters, stop the jihadist financing and funding and address humanitarian crises in the region.
Across the expansive landscapes of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, ravaged by these wanton killings, this tragic scenario is not likely to change until the brutal reality that states should be involved in the security of lives and property is implemented.
To defeat jihadists permanently requires all hands on deck. The present strength of the Nigeria Police Force is grossly inadequate to complement the military’s efforts in defeating the terror groups. Well-trained and well-equipped state security personnel, with knowledge of the environment, culture and language can hold the fort, pending the arrival of soldiers in dire situations.
Nigeria cannot ignore this anymore. This void in the strategy to defeat Boko Haram is basic and Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states should take the bull by the horns by introducing homegrown security initiatives to secure their people. The performance of the Civilian Joint Task Force in this regard, which received the approval of the Federal Government to the extent that 400 of them were formally integrated into the Nigerian Army, underscores this fact.
Fidelity Bank, Gazelle Academy train 200 Sokoto varsity students in skill acquisition

Fidelity Bank, Gazelle Academy train 200 Sokoto varsity students in skill acquisition

Fidelity Bank Plc and Gazelle Academy have trained 200 undergraduates of Sokoto State University (SSU) in the acquisition of skills in fashion design, handsets repair, cocktail and make up.
Speaking at an event in Sokoto Monday, the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Nwankwo, represented by the bank’s Head of Recruitment, Chris Nnawe, said the programme under Fidelity Youth Empowerment Academy Stream 7 (YEa7) is part of the bank’s cooperate social responsibility.
“We in Fidelity bank have targeted programmes on education, environment and youth empowerment. This one you are witnessing today is part of fulfilling our promises to the society,” he said.
Nwankwo said that the programme started in 2016 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, stressing that since then the bank and its partner, Gazelle Academy, have visited more than five higher institutions in the country, as this one is stream 7 of the programme.
According to him, youths were trained to acquire some skills to enable them to be self reliant and also make them to be employers of labour even while in school.
He disclosed that at the end of the training, start packs will be given to each participant to aid him/her to start something of their own, adding that after the undergraduates’ education, they can seek for soft loans from the Small, Medium Enterprise (SMEs) Department of the bank.
On her part, the founder of Gazelle Academy, Mrs Muna Unuozo, said the programme was aimed at equipping the students with skills that they could use while still in school or after graduation.
She said that with the knowledge of the skill acquired, they could fend for themselves even while in school.
Speaking at the event, the Governor of Sokoto State Aminu Waziri Tambuwal thanked Fidelity Bank and Gazelle Academy for chosing the school for the programme.
Tambuwal said that as a responsible government, his administration have prioritized the welfare of the youths in the state.
He enjoined the participants to be focused and concentrate in order to benefit from the training.
Earlier, the Vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Sani Dangogo, thanked Fidelity Bank and Gazelle Academy for the benevolent gesture, saying the training will go a long way in alleviating the financial burden of the students.
Buhari endangering Nigeria with clannish nepotism – Bishop Kukah

Buhari endangering Nigeria with clannish nepotism – Bishop Kukah

The Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah, has castigated President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing him of bringing Nigeria to the brink, with his nepotism and clannishness, supremacist and divisive policies.
The outspoken bishop, famous for saying truth to power from the pulpit, spoke in Kaduna on Tuesday, at the funeral mass of slain Seminarian Michael Nnadi at Good Shepherd Seminary, Kaduna.
Bishop Kukah told the congregation: “We have gathered around the remains of Michael in supplication but also as solemn witnesses to the penetrating darkness that hovers over our country”.
“The immediate family of Michael and the Church lived through the torments of the brutal, harsh and senseless haranguing of the kidnappers who are totally empty of any show of human emotions.
“This is a solemn moment for the body of Christ. This is for us the moment of decision. This is the moment that separates darkness from light, good from evil”.
Kukah’s message reverberated in Aso Rock Abuja, where President Buhari runs the affairs of the nation. The Sokoto bishop is not impressed by the retired general’s stewardship, after almost five years.
“Nigeria is on the crossroads and its future hangs precariously in a balance. It is time to confront and dispel the clouds of evil that hover over us,” Kukah said as he moaned over the insecurity that confronts Nigeria.
Kukah recalled that Buhari was voted into office in 2015 on the grounds of his promises to rout Boko Haram.
“In an address at the prestigious Policy Think Tank, Chatham House in London, just before the elections, Buhari told his audience: ‘I as a retired General and a former Head of State have always known about our soldiers. They are capable and they are well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty.
‘If I am elected President, the world will have no reason to worry about Nigeria. Nigeria will return to its stabilizing role in West Africa. We will pay sufficient attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service. We will develop adequate and modern arms and ammunition.
‘We will improve intelligence gathering and border patrols to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels. We will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development and promoting infrastructural development …we will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester. And I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front”.
Kukah said: “There is no need to make any further comments on this claim. No one in that hall or anywhere in Nigeria doubted the President who ran his campaign on a tank supposedly full of the fuel of integrity and moral probity.
“This President has displayed the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing our country’s rich diversity. He has subordinated the larger interests of the country to the hegemonic interests of his co-religionists and clansmen and women. The impression created now is that, to hold a key and strategic position in Nigeria today, it is more important to be a northern Muslim than a Nigerian”.
But the Sokoto Bishop lamented what Buhari has been doing as Nigeria’s leader.
“No one could have imagined that in winning the Presidency, General Buhari would bring nepotism and clannishness into the military and the ancillary security agencies, that his government would be marked by supremacist and divisive policies that would push our country to the brink.
“This President has displayed the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing our country’s rich diversity. He has subordinated the larger interests of the country to the hegemonic interests of his co-religionists and clansmen and women. The impression created now is that, to hold a key and strategic position in Nigeria today, it is more important to be a northern Muslim than a Nigerian Nigerian”.
“No one could have imagined that in winning the Presidency, General Buhari would bring nepotism and clannishness into the military and the ancillary security agencies, that his government would be marked by supremacist and divisive policies that would push our country to the brink.
“Today, in Nigeria, the noble religion of Islam has convulsed. It has become associated with some of worst fears among our people. Muslim scholars, traditional rulers and intellectuals have continued to cry out helplessly, asking for their religion and region to be freed from this chokehold.
“This is because, in all of this, neither Islam nor the north can identify any real benefits from these years that have been consumed by the locusts that this government has unleashed on our country. The Fulani, his innocent kinsmen, have become the subject of opprobrium, ridicule, defamation, calumny and obloquy. His north has become one large grave yard, a valley of dry bones, the nastiest and the most brutish part of our dear country.
“Why have the gods rejected this offering? Despite running the most nepotistic and narcissistic government in known history, there are no answers to the millions of young children on the streets in northern Nigeria, the north still has the worst indices of poverty, insecurity, stunting, squalor and destitution”.
Bishop Kukah noted that the Sultan of Sokoto, and the Emir of Kano are the two most powerful traditional and moral leaders in Islam today.
The Fulani, his innocent kinsmen, have become the subject of opprobrium, ridicule, defamation, calumny and obloquy. His north has become one large grave yard, a valley of dry bones, the nastiest and the most brutish part of our dear country.
“None of them is happy and they have said so loud and clear. The Sultan recently lamented the tragic consequences of power being in the wrong hands. Every day, Muslim clerics are posting tales of lamentation about their fate. Now, the Northern Elders, who in 2015 believed that General Buhari had come to redeem the north have now turned against the President,” he added.
He lamented that citizens of some countries were willing to risk their lives for their nations but such is not the case in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is at a point where we must call for a verdict. There must be something that a man, nay, a nation should be ready to die for.
“Sadly, or even tragically, today, Nigeria, does not possess that set of goals or values for which any sane citizen is prepared to die for her.
“Perhaps, I should correct myself and say that the average officeholder is ready to die to protect his office but not for the nation that has given him or her that office”.
He decried that consistent efforts to build Nigeria had failed.
“The Yorubas say that if it takes you 25 years to practice madness, how much time would you have to put it into real life? We have practised madness for too long.
“Our attempt to build a nation has become like the agony of Sisyphus who angered the gods and had to endure the frustration of rolling a stone up the mountain. Each time he got near the top, the gods would tip the stone back and he would go back to start all over again. What has befallen our nation?”
On the persecution of Christians in the north, Bishop Kukah explained, “The persecution of Christians in northern Nigeria is as old as the modern Nigerian state. Their experiences and fears of northern, Islamic domination are documented in the Willinks Commission Report way back in 1956.
“It was also the reason they formed a political platform called, the Non-Muslim League. All of us must confess in all honesty that in the years that have passed, the northern Muslim elite has not developed a moral basis for adequate power sharing with their Christian co-regionalists.
“We deny at our own expense. By denying Christians lands for places of worship across most of the northern states, ignoring the systematic destruction of churches all these years, denying Christians adequate recruitment, representation and promotions in the State civil services, denying their indigenous children scholarships, marrying Christian women or converting Christians while threatening Muslim women and prospective converts with death, they make building a harmonious community impossible.

“Nation building cannot happen without adequate representation and a deliberate effort at creating for all members a sense, a feeling, of belonging, and freedom to make their contributions. This is the window that the killers of Boko Haram have exploited and turned into a door to death. It is why killing Christians and destroying Christianity is seen as one of their key missions”.

Aba Diocese: Episcopal consecration of Monsignor Augustine NdubuezeEchemaholds on Thursday, February 13, 2020

Aba Diocese: Episcopal consecration of Monsignor Augustine NdubuezeEchemaholds on Thursday, February 13, 2020

Arrangements have been concluded for the episcopal consecration of the bishop-elect of Aba Diocese, Monsignor Augustine Ndubueze Echema on Thursday, February 13, 2020.

A release by the organizing committee said the Episcopal consecration and installation starts at 10am at Christ the King Cathedral Aba, while reception takes place immediately after Mass.

The Principal Consecrator is the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, His Excellency Antonio Guido Filipazzi, while His Grace Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri and His Grace Most Rev. Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Apostolic Nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago, will be the 1st and 2nd Co-consecrators respectively.

The Abia State Governor, Dr.Okezie Victor Ekpeazu is the special guest of honour while Chief Sir Leo Okoye is the Chairman of the reception.

NCR Aba news correspondent reports that Christ the King Cathedral Aba, venue of the consecration is already wearing a new look, while the faithful are looking forward to the occasion with enthusiasm.

The bishop’s first Episcopal Mass holds on Sunday, February 16 at CKC, Aba at 11am.

The appointment of Msgr. Echema came four years after the death of the former Bishop of Aba Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. Vincent Valentine Ezeonyia who died in Febtuary 2015 after a brief illness. He was consecrated bishop in 1990.

Aba Catholics have continued to hail the appointment of Msgr. Echema as a wise decision taken by Pope Francis.

Born on December 28, 1958 in Ohuhu Nsulu, then Diocese of Umuahia and now of Aba, Msgr. Echema was ordained a priest on August 16, 1986 for Owerri Diocese.

Until his appointment as bishop-elect of Aba, on December 28, 2019, Msgr. Echema was a Professor of Theology at CIWA and Chaplain, Laity Council, Owerri Province.

There’s still darkness in Igboland – Archbishop Obinna

There’s still darkness in Igboland – Archbishop Obinna

By Emeka Ani

It was a double celebration at Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri on Sunday February 2, as the Archdiocese celebrated the “Word of God Sunday” and “Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple.”

Pope Francis’ Apostolic letter, MotuProprio, “AperuitIllis,” issued on September 30, 2019, established that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God.”

The MotuProprio coincided with the 1,600th anniversary of St. Jerome’s death and his feast day.

The Apostolic Letter underscored the significance of the Bible, the practice of Reading the Bible and witnessing its teachings in our lives.

In his opening remarks, Archbishop Anthony Obinna explained that the two celebrations were being marked on the same day, February 2, because of pastoral reasons, which prevented the celebration of the Word of God Sunday on the Third Sunday, January 26.
On the presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the Archbishop said, the Lord is not just entering into the temple, “he wants to enter into your life, your family, your community, Imo State and Nigeria.”

Later in his homily, the local ordinary said before the Word of God reached this part of the world, Igboland was in total darkness, as almost everything was deified, including forests, water etc, turning them into small gods (agbara), mysterious and frightening deities.

“It was this darkness that was responsible for the killing of twins, which was prevalent uptill 1940s in some parts of Igboland and other outrageous practices.”

“He said the word of God has come into the world, into our lives and families, seeking to enter places where there are still darkness.

Enthronement of the World of God at Assumpta Cathedral last Sunday.

Photo: Enthronement of the World of God at Assumpta Cathedral last Sunday.

Archbishop Obinna regretted that some people in Igboland still prefer darkness to the Light of salvation.

He observed with regret that ndigbo, blessed both by nature and exposure and favoured with the light of faith, light of business and light of education, have slipped into darkness so much so that other nations are now pitying them.

“God blessed us in so many ways but pride, arrogance, greed and hatred even among ourselves have become a major problem,” he noted and pleaded with ndigbo to allow the light of Christ to return to their land so that our younger generation will not have a bleak future.

On politics, Archbishop Obinna condemned a situation where politicians abandon their political parties and switch over to the party in power.

According to him, “we now have “Ogbanje” politicians, Any Government in Power (AGIP) politicians,” adding that under this development ndigbo have no more position in Nigeria and we can no longer be trusted neither do we trust ourselves.

Worried by the political development in Imo State and Nigeria, Archbishop Obinna said he had hoped that things would get better and that he would retire quietly with joy but as things stand now, “I’ve been left in a state of ambiguity and uncertainty.”

He expressed optimism that the mess we’ve made of Imo State and Nigeria will one day be cleansed. “With men this is impossible, but with God it is. However, it has to come through submission to the truth and not through institutionalized corruption.”

Quoting Pope Francis, Archbishop Obinna said the Word of God “challenges us, frees us from the bondage of our selfishness and summons us to conversion,” adding that His Word has the power to change our lives and to lead us out of darkness into the light.”

The high point of the Candle Mass was the enthronement of the Word of God in the Cathedral.

New zonal vicars emerge in Owerri Archdiocese

New zonal vicars emerge in Owerri Archdiocese

…As priests’ posting takes off February 17

A total of four priests of the Owerri Catholic Archdiocese have been appointed to serve as new Episcopal Zonal Vicars in the Archdiocese. The priests are Rev. Frs. Stephen Egwim – Zone 1 Emekuku, Gerard Onyekwere – Zone 2 Mbutu Okohia, Ishmael Iwuala – Zone 8 AmakohiaIkeduru and Raymond Onuoha – Zone 11 Obibiezena.

The latest posting was contained in this year’s Archdiocesan priests’ transfer list, signed by the Archdiocesan chief shepherd, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna and was released on Wednesday February 5.

The priests who were also posted as parish priests of the respective zonal headquarters are joined in the Archdiocesan key function list by director of the Archdiocesan Education Commission as well as the Archdiocesan Liturgist.

The two functions, which were hitherto held by the now Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe and the newly appointed Bishop of Aba Diocese, Msgr. Augustine Echema, according to the posting, would be respectively handled by Rev. Frs. Bethrand Ujunwa and Paschal Mbagwu.

For St. Peter Clever Minor Seminary Okpala, Rev. Fr. Henry Ajaero was posted as new rector, to be assisted by Rev. Frs. Malachy Ukaonu and Julian Ekechi.

Aside these major postings, the list also indicates that a good number of other Archdiocesan priests are active in the transfer movement. The over 50 affected other priests, whose primary assignments range from parish priests to chaplains, principals of schools to heads and directors of institutions are expected to officially kick off their missions in the various new places of postings on Monday February 17.

Pope: ‘Education concerns the future of humanity’

Pope: ‘Education concerns the future of humanity’

Pope Francis says poverty, discrimination, climate change, the globalization of indifference and the exploitation of human beings all prevent the flourishing of millions of children, thus his call to join forces to achieve a broad educational covenant.

Despite the objectives formulated by the UN and other international bodies, Pope Francis said humanity is in need of a renewed educational covenant “aimed at forming mature persons capable of mending the fabric of human relationships and creating a more fraternal world.”

He was addressing participants at the end of a two-day conference in the Vatican on Friday entitled “Education. The Global Compact”. The Conference was one of a series of events leading up to the signing of a “Global Compact for Education”, promoted by the Pope, in the Vatican on 14 May 2020.

“Poverty, discrimination, climate change, the globalization of indifference and the exploitation of human beings all prevent the flourishing of millions of children,” he said.

Reflecting on how basic education has become a “normative ideal throughout the world,” he praised the progress that has been made in making primary education almost universal while also narrowing the gender gap.

“Nonetheless,” he continued, “each generation needs to consider how best to hand on its knowledge and its values to the next, since it is through education that men and women attain their maximum potential and become conscious, free and responsible.”

Education concerns the future of humanity

Thus, Pope Francis underscored, “concern for education is concern for future generations and for the future of humanity.  It is a concern profoundly rooted in hope and it calls for generosity and courage.”

He elaborated on the fact that education is not merely about transmitting concepts and that it demands cooperation on the part of all involved: “the family, the school and social, cultural and religious institutions.”

A state of breakdown

“Today what I have called the “educational compact” between families, schools, nations and the world, culture and cultures, is in crisis, and indeed in a state of breakdown,” he said noting that it is “serious, and it can only be fixed through a renewed universal effort of generosity and cooperation.”

Thus, Pope Francis said, all members of society are called, in some way, to renew and consolidate their commitment in favour of education.

“To achieve this, there has to be an integration of disciplines, culture, sports, science, relaxation and recreation; bridges have to be built to overcome the forms of enclosure that trap us in our little world and to launch into the global open seas in respect for all traditions,” he said .

Teaching a culture of dialogue and encounter  

He called for an effort that gives value to traditions and cultures so that future generations may develop “their own self-understanding by encountering and appropriating cultural diversity and change.”

“This,” he said, “will enable the promotion of a culture of dialogue, encounter and mutual understanding, in a spirit of serenity and tolerance.”

Families, schools, communities

Pope Francis called in particular for a greater participation of families and local communities in educational projects.

Finally, he praised and upheld the work and responsibility of teachers pointing out that in a new educational compact, the function of teachers, as educators, must be acknowledged and supported by every possible means: “By their knowledge, patience and dedication, they communicate a way of living and acting that embodies a richness that is not material but spiritual, and creates the men and woman of tomorrow.”

Urbaniana Seminarians express solidarity with colleagues of Kaduna

Urbaniana Seminarians express solidarity with colleagues of Kaduna

Seminarians of Rome’s Pontifical Urban College have voiced solidarity with fellow seminarians of Kaduna’s Good Shepherd Seminary in Nigeria.

Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; Stephen Amos, 23; and Michael Nnadi, 18, were taken from Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, Nigeria around 10:30 pm on 8 January by gunmen.

One of the seminarians was freed after ten days but with serious injuries sustained at the hands of his captors. On 2 February, a day after the release of two other seminarians came the shocking news that the fourth seminarian, Michael Nnandi, had been murdered by his captors. Michael was the youngest of the four.

If my brothers can sacrifice for the Gospel, I too should be ready

This week, two seminarians of Rome’s Pontifical Urban College, Peter Ameh of Nigeria and Lenin Mudzingwa of Zimbabwe spoke to Vatican News about their reactions to the abductions.

“The abduction and the killing of a seminarian say to me that we live in a very precarious situation, where we don’t know what will happen next. Human lives are no longer respected and can be taken at will. It is a very terrifying situation, and it tells me that yes, I can be a seminarian, but that does not mean I shouldn’t be ready to give my life even at this stage for the sake of the Gospel. While this is terrifying, it also consoles me because it tells me that if my brothers can be sacrificed, if my brothers can suffer for the sake of the Gospel, then it should make me open to every possibility in this life.” Said Peter Ameh, a second-year seminarian of Jalingo Diocese in Nigeria.

When one of us is hurt, we all feel it

Zimbabwean first-year Theology student of Gweru Diocese, Lenin Mudzingwa said, “When one seminarian is hurt, every seminarian is hurt.” According to Lenin, the abductions and killing are not just a problem for Nigerian seminarians of the Nigerian Church alone. He said the tragic events touched everyone in the Church and even those outside the Church.

I would be terrified

In their shoes, “I was going to be very afraid. I was going to be terrified. To live under such a threatening situation and environment just takes away your hope. It discourages. But I pray and believe that on the other hand, it gives you more courage that I too can do it since others have done it. (Give up their life for the Gospel),” said Lenin.

When the tragic news filtered through to their institution, in Rome, the students said they prayed fervently for the four victims, their Nigerian colleagues and concerned families.

The state can do more to protect seminaries

For Peter, Nigerian politicians in their election campaigns, promised more and better security. He believes it is time for them to deliver on the promises.

“A lot can be done to protect seminarians in Kaduna, in particular this seminary, which is situated on a notorious highway (Abuja-Kaduna Express Way) reputed for criminal activities. A lot can be done to protect all the seminaries in the world, especially the ones in Nigeria. Yes, seminarians are training to be priests of the Church, but that does not take away the fact that they are also citizens. The state has to protect every life not considering religious affiliation,” said Peter.

Undeterred in their zeal to serve God

Both students say that notwithstanding the abductions, they are undeterred in their wish to serve God and the Church.

“More people are ready to serve God. More people are going to the seminary to become priests and are ready to preach the Gospel according to the injunction of Christ,” affirmed Peter.

There are about 270 seminarians at the Good Shepherd Major Seminary of Kaduna.

Medical doctor’s wife killed along with Michael Nnadi

Security for priests, sisters, seminarians and pastors of other Christian denominations is a significant concern for Christians in Nigeria. Nonetheless, though kidnappings and abductions of religious personnel make much news, ordinary laypersons are as affected and suffer as much.

Together with the seminarian, Michael Nnadi, the kidnapping gang of Kaduna also killed the wife of a Kaduna-based medical doctor, Philip Ataga. The captors eventually released her two children kidnapped with her. Source link



By Ogu Bundu Nwadike, M.A

There was a heaviness upon me as enjoyed my time earlier this morning; precisely by 3:00 am, the hour of mercy, hour of the spiritual. And after the experience, I was led to give another insight into the myth and mystique surrounding the Mbaka metamorphosis.

For Wole Soyinka, my teacher, it was “Brother Jero Metamorphosis”. For me, as it would please the Holy Spirit, it’s “Reverend Mbaka Metamorphosis”!

Now, as I took that reverie into the recesses of the Most High God, I was led to see Mbaka with a mixed visages and adornments.

On his left hand side, he had his characteristic cleric wry smile and his cassock. On his right hand side Mbaka was mean, unsmiling and stern-looking, putting on the vestments of a fortune-teller. Then, I was aroused from yonder back to the realities of this vale of tears.

But I was so sure it was Ejike Mbaka that I saw. To be unravel the mystery and message that transfiguration was passing, I made for my portable library and began to wallow in the forest of knowledge.

I saw that there was a need to decipher of a Christian cleric and a fortune-teller, which was Mbaka into. Or could he be here and there or neither here nor there?

Now, the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines a cleric as: “a member of the clergy” and defines fortune-teller as: “a person who claims to have magic powers and who tells people what will happen to them in the future.”

What’s unarguable is that Mbaka is a Christian cleric of the Catholic Church. But is it arguable that he’s also a fortune-teller? Is Mbaka not a fortune-teller? Going by the above-stated definition of fortune-teller, it’s quite convenient to see Mbaka as a fortune-teller!

At least, since joining politicians in playing the game of politics, right from the advent of the 4th Republic, Mbaka has become notorious for fortune-telling, exposing to politicians, that can afford his high fees, the look of things in the future election. True or false?

For sometime now, top players in the premier political league of Nigeria have had the need to curry the services and favour of Ejike Mbaka on electoral matters.

And Mbaka’s clients are the very top strikers in the Nigeria’s premier political league; talking about presidents and presidential materials and hopefuls, governors and governorship aspirants, and national legislators.

Mbaka isn’t known to have ever rendered his fortune-telling services to councillors serving or aspiring to serve at the local government system. His fortune-telling trade doesn’t benefit the lowly and poor nay those that can’t afford the mystique’s fees.

Mbaka, from all indications is a Christian cleric, a fortune-teller or all of the above. However, going by his knack and penchant for paid prophecies and predictions, Mbaka fits more as a fortune-teller than a Christian cleric. I stand to be contradicted!

Having established that, the fact is that Mbaka’s fortune-telling services are available for traditionalists, Muslims, Christians and indeed anybody that is ready to play ball by meeting up with the prescribed fees!

At least, few days to the Supreme Court judgement on January 20, Alhaji Ganduje of Kano State was a very important personality visitor to Mbaka. Did Ganduje go for adoration? Did he go for holy water, holy oil and holy sand? That’s doubtful! Only a pry into his future at the Supreme Court must have taken Alhaji Gand to Mbaka’s fortune-telling altar in Enugu all the way from Kano!

On a more serious note, since January 1, 2020 Mbaka’s fortune-telling services have boomed and flourished with judgements in the 2019 governorship elections in various States getting ruled on by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Now, appeals at the Supreme Court on 2019 guber elections are over in principle. But one of the supposed “concluded” judgements happens to have been starred as “discussion continues”!

Ladies and gentlemen, am making reference to the Ihedioha v Uzodimma (2020) judgement that many people prefer to describe as misjudgement and miscarriage of justice. That matter is now in a discussion continues mode, following the application by His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ogbuagu Emeka Ihedioha CON, KSC, FNIFST to the Supreme Court for the January 14 misjudgement to be revisited and reviewed on points of numbers,facts and figures.

Since January 1, it was observed that Mbaka began to state, restate and harp on the idea that Gov. Ihedioha will be ousted from office as governor, with hope for Imo State.

According to later reports, Mbaka had on one of his “adoration” meetings told his audience that he saw hope for Imo State. Initially, it wasn’t clear whether the fortune-teller meant that with the great rebuilding work going on in Imo State under the watch of Gov. Ihedioha.

It turned out later that Mbaka’s Crystal Ball was showing him that Senator Hope Uzodimma, who was fourth on the votes table after the election, will become the governor of Imo State via the instrumentality of the Supreme Court.

Then came January 14 and Justice Kekere Ekun leading the misjudgement announced that Senator Hope Uzodimma was the actual winner of the 2019 governorship election in Imo State. There were six other justices on the bench that day on that day, led by Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed.

Ordinarily, it would have been said that it was all over and that the rest is history. But wait a minute, fortune-tellers, like Supreme Court justices, are also human and fallible. Mbaka’s Crystal Ball failed him by not showing him all the angles to the Imo guber legal brouhaha. There were loopholes and lacuna that screamed fraud about the misjudgement.

Only a fortune-teller can afford to something where there was nothing. Prophets of God envision something where there’s something. On the Supreme Court midjudgement, Mbaka wasn’t a prophet of the Most High God. He was a fortune-teller paid to reveal lies and falsehood!

The Ihedioha v Uzodimma (2020) misjudgement by the Supreme Court has been returned to the apex court on account of glaring clerical errors on which the Court based its highly controversial and contentious misjudgement!

That prophecy by Mbaka was proved to be carnal and not divine. If it were from God, there wouldn’t have been the discovery of colossal fraud located in the forged 388 polling units and forged 213,659 votes supposedly excluded from the votes of Senator Uzodimma.

If Mbaka saw God and God sent him to speak on the Supreme Court misjudgement of January 14, the total number of votes cast after the Supreme Court awarded the forged 213,659 votes to Uzodimma wouldn’t have been far far higher than the total number of accredited voters by 127,202 votes!

It’s on that backdrop that the fresh warnings and “prophecies” of doom from Ejike Mbaka on Gov. Ihedioha is bunkum and must be ridiculed and jeered at by all Christians in the world.

The fortune-teller, this time as in the first, wasn’t foretelling fortune but doom. Mbaka said his Crystal Ball showed him a danger awaiting that will land Gov. Ihedioha in jail. Mbaka has been quoted widely as saying that, but one full week after, he’s yet to refute, debunk or deny the statement. Silence under such circumstance is consent. Mbaka told that second lie!

I had already stated that Gov. Ihedioha is not a candidate for jail as Mbaka has been marketing. Gov. Ihedioha hadn’t, hasn’t and won’t faulter in any way that will see him end in jail, except by trumped-up and phantom allegations to cage him and embarrass him. God forbid!

In his quarter of a century old public service career, Gov. Ihedioha isn’t a saint but he sure has proved to be a man of good character and conduct. He’s not an angel, but he has restored joy and happiness in Imo State before the gang-up and brigandage that made him step aside for a short time.

It’s not news that in his seven months in office, Gov. Ihedioha judiciously utilized the resources of Imo State, with verifiable successes and achievements. The following are some of the signature projects of Gov. Ihedioha:

1. In Ihedioha’s Government, IGR was raised from N250m to N1.2 Billion in 6 months.

2. Ihedioha’s Government verified and paid all pensioners 100% pensions through bank alerts in 4 months.

3. Ihedioha’s Government resumed payment of 100% salaries in 4 months.

4. Imo State became the least corrupt state in Nigeria within five months of Ihedioha’s Government.

6.The agricultural sector was revived in five months and rice production commenced in the state.

7. Electricity was restored within five months to the State Secretariat which had no power for eight years.

8. Ihedioha saw that the multiplicity of state bank accounts was reduced from 250 to 1 under a Single Treasury Accounts (TSA) policy in 3 months.

9. The Technical and Vocational Education system was revived in five months with massive work going on at the four Technical Colleges in the State.

10. Imo State scored first position in ICT Development in Nigeria in four months.

11.Ihedioha’s Government signed up to Open Government Initiative (OGI).

12.Steps were taken to improve ease of doing business in the State with creation of a Bureau for Ease of Doing Business.

13.Ihedioha’s Government hosted the first ever sub-national Diaspora summit.

14.Imo State became attractive to development partners such as DFID, World Bank, Ford Foundation, etc as Afreximbank commenced establishing its N60 billion inestment facility in Ngor Okpala.

15.Ihedioha and his team unlocked over N25bn in world Bank funded projects such as NewMap and Ramp by paying counterpart funds.

16.In Ihedioha’s seven sports was revived Imo State both in infrastructure and sport activities.

17.Ihedioha’s government instituted a State Health Insurance Scheme within 5 months.

18.Ihedioha’s government embarked on a massive Road Reconstruction program within Owerri metropolis and also fixed most of the potholes within the State Capital.

19.Ihedioha trained over 600 Imo youths in Agricultural Entrepreneurship Schemes in Nasarawa State.

20.Ihedioha received high powered international delegations from the government of United Kingdom, the High Commissioner, the government of United States, the Deputy Ambassador and other dignitaries to the State.

21. First time ever passage of the State Appropriation passed and signed into Law before Jan 1st, 2020.

22. Financial Statements were prepared for the first time in line with International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

23. For the First time ever the budgetary process (2020) followed the International Open Government Initiative, OGI.

24. The Ihedioha government had citizens, communities and CSO participation in the budgetary process in the spirit of openness and accountability.

25. The Imo State Housing Corporation was revived, rebranded and the Housing Deficit in the sate being addressed with the building of new housing estates.

26. The Ihedioha Government collaborated with the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank) to attract the establishment of a World Class Business Hub (Africa Quality Assurance Centre) worth $200M to Imo State.

27. Launched a response programme to address the High HIV incidence in Imo State.

28. Launched “Operation Iron Gate” to improve safety and security to lives and property in the State and create zero tolerance to crime in the State!

29. Created a Bureau for Diaspora Affairs in the Office of the Governor to cater for the need Imo people in diaspora!

30. Restored Bureau for Public Procurement and Price Intelligence (BPPPI) to regulate the issues relating to contract awards and other procurements.

Should Gov. Ihedioha end up in jail for posting the above achievements in seven months?

The question then is why would Gov. Ihedioha end up in jail? Fortune-teller Mbaka should be able to tell the world. It’s still unfortunate, why Mbaka would join in the struggle to get Gov. Ihedioha out of office for nothing or than that he was paid heavily to curse a man he should bless. Whose script is Mbaka performing? Is Mbaka an APC leader! Is Mbaka APC’s Spiritual Affairs Director?

I heard it but I don’t want to believe it that Mbaka’s grouse is that Gov. Ihedioha refused Mbaka’s overtures for close secret acquaintance aimed at extorting pecuniary benefits from the governor. Is friendship by force? Gov. Ihedioha is transparent in all his dealings.

For Mbaka to stealthily and clandestinely waylay people to tell them what his fortune-teller’s Crystal Ball wants him to say to them, only to get angry with his prospects for not tagging along, is sheer act falsehood, propaganda and blackmail!

I don’t want to run this essay beyond the set limit for space. But I should conclude by imploring members of the public to determine from his pedigree and antecedents, whether Ejike Mbaka is an African traditional religionist, a Christian catholic cleric, a mystique fortune-teller or all of the above!

Sokoto: Bishop Kukah clarifies position on Biafra

Sokoto: Bishop Kukah clarifies position on Biafra

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah has said that the spurious story making the rounds on social media alleging his support for the Biafran agitation was only but a figment of the writer’s imagination.

The Bishop in a disclaimer signed by Rev. Fr Christopher Omotosho, Director of Communications, Sokoto Catholic Diocese, said, he has nothing to do with the said publication circulating on the social media space.

The disclaimer as signed by Fr. Omotosho reads in part, “There is a spurious and untitled piece credited to me about Biafra that is enjoying wide circulation on the social media. I have nothing to do with it. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop Catholic Diocese of Sokoto State”.

The false quotation credited to Bishop Kukah was titled, “Is Nigeria A Lie?”
The respected cleric was mischievously quoted by the writer to have said, “I hate the lie Nigeria is. If I had my way, I will cease to be a Nigerian, because there is no sense of nationhood. Otherwise, how can you explain the audacious impunity of a certain section of this country?

“I want independence from a country that embraces terrorists, and terrorizes agitators. At the slightest excitement, a Fulani man can kill you, and get away with it.

“Those who say Biafran agitators are nuisance, they should know that nuisance begets nuisance. You cannot stop a people who know what they want. Get out of their way. This country will end, unless there is justice for all”.

The Diocesan spokesperson, Rev. Father Omotosho urged Nigerians to disregard elements that are bent on discrediting the reputation of globally respected cleric like Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.