In the last year, several priests and seminarians, along with pastors from other Christian denominations, have been kidnapped in Nigeria, some for ranson, and some by Islamist militant and terrorist groups. Kidnappings of Christians have multiplied in recent months, prompting Nigerian Church leaders to express serious concern about the security of their members and to call on the government to prioritize the security of its citizens.
Nnadi's death should be a decisive moment for all Nigerian Christians, who have suffered severe persecution and instability under the rule of President General Muhammadu Buhari, whose promises for peace and security in the nation have fallen woefully short, Kukah said in his homily.
"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," Kukah said.
"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," he added.
"His north has become one large graveyard, a valley of dry bones, the nastiest and the most brutish part of our dear country."
Kukah noted that this abuse of power has been condemned by many Muslim leaders and intellectuals, though not to much effect.
"We are being told that this situation has nothing to do with religion," Kukah said. "Really? It is what happens when politicians use religion to extend the frontiers of their ambition and power. Are we to believe that simply because Boko Haram kills Muslims too, they wear no religious garb? Are we to deny the evidence before us, of kidnappers separating Muslims from infidels or compelling Christians to convert or die? If your son steals from me, do you solve the problem by saying he also steals from you?"
Kukah then echoed the call of Sa'adu Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, a spiritual leader to Muslims in Nigeria who has spoken out against the persecutions, for the northern political elite to reclaim their land.
The persecution of Christians and other minority groups in Nigeria is not new, Kukah added, and has been ongoing since the founding of modern-day Nigeria. But it cannot be ignored by Christians any longer, he added.
"We Christians must be honest enough to accept that we have taken so much for granted and made so much sacrifice in the name of nation-building," he said, noting how Christians have supported various state leaders, mistakenly believing they would bring peace and stability to Nigeria.
"For how long shall we continue on this road with different ambitions? Christians must rise up and defend their faith with all the moral weapons they have," he said. "We must become more robust in presenting the values of Christianity especially our message of love and non-violence to a violent society. Among the wolves of the world, we must become more politically alert, wise as the serpent and humble as the dove."
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However, this does not mean resorting to vengeance and violence, which are "the ways of the flesh," he said.
Instead, Christians must "put back your sword. Turn the other cheek. Pray for your enemy. Give the thief your cloak," he said.
"None of these makes sense to the human mind without faith. This is why Jesus said the only solution is for us to be born again. The challenge before us is to behold the face of Jesus and ask the question: Are we born against hatred, anger, violence and vengeance?"
He acknowledged the anger and sadness and betrayal felt by all Christians in Nigeria, but again encouraged them to pursue non-violent solutions.
"The only way He has pointed out to us is the non-violent way. It is the road less traveled, but it is the only way," Kukah said.
He encouraged all Christians in Nigeria to look to Nnadi and to other young Christians killed in recent months as examples of courage, hope, and faith.