Benin City, Nigeria, Feb 26, 2020 / 15:00 pm
The bishops of Nigeria have told the nation’s Catholics to wear black on Ash Wednesday to protest the ongoing persecution of Christians in the country.
In a letter read in all the country's parishes on Feb. 26, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Benin City, said that the black clothing would be a show of solidarity with victims of violent crime, as well as a display of mourning for the murder of seminarian Michael Nnadi. Akubeze is the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).
Nnadi, was killed in late January, weeks after he and three other seminarians were abducted from their seminary. The seminarians kidnapped with Nnadi were released, one with life-threatening injuries.
Also in January, Rev. Lawan Andima, a local Government Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the married father of nine children, was beheaded by Boko Haram.
Akubeze has previously said Andima was killed “simply because he was a Christian.”
In the Ash Wednesday letter, the archbishop called for Catholics to join in a “Day of Prayer Procession” across the country against “the repeated barbaric executions of Christians by the Boko Haram insurgents and the incessant cases of kidnapping for ransom linked to the same group.”
The secretary general of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, the administrative headquarters of the CBCN, also issued a request for Catholics around the world to pray for peace in Nigeria and security for the nation’s Christians.
“I have been directed by the administrative board of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) to communicate to you that in the face of the current security situation, the Church needs to speak out in word and action against the level of insecurity in the country,” said Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi on Tuesday to Nigerian press.