By Johnpaul Anih, 9 – 11 – 2020
The attention of the Christian community and journalists of the Nsukka extraction has been drawn to the baying crowd chanting for the head of the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, an ordained priest of God for speaking the truth. Just Like the then head of John the Baptist was dripping with blood in the hands of a dancing maiden, nothing appeases the transgressor more than the humiliation of the messenger of truth.
Truly, in a land of vice, lust for blood often pollutes the streams of sanity.
The demand for the arrest of Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka Diocese is a sad replay of tragic history. It is a repeat of the unfortunate incident that happened years ago in the court of Pilate, where truth died.
First for speaking against the pervading injustice facing his flock, some veiled interests have risen against Bishop Onah and demanded that he should be cast in the Lions den .
His offense was that the prelate had in his sermon critcised the killing of some armless youths, some months ago in in Emene Enugu, his home State .In the sermon the minister of God wondered why arm-bearing herders, who wreak mayhem and terrorise farming communities in the south –East zone had eluded arrest by the security agencies and armless youths who had committed no offense are slaughtered in broad day light.
The Bishop also wondered why the Muslim call for prayers could be heard at dawn in the sleepy town of every communities , yet a Bible-holding evangelist was stabbed to death for preaching on the street of Abuja. The Bishop further queried why Mosques kept growing rapidly in every remote communities and environs, in every part of south East Nigeria while Churches were demolished and land denied them for building place of worship even in predominantly Christian communities in some part of the country.
Because of these pertinent questions, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs had petitioned the Director General, Department of State Security, accusing the Bishop of making an inciting comment. The group taggrd the cleric’s comment as hateful .
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) joined forces with the NSCIA and demanded the arrest of the Bishop.
Anyone with a modicum of conscience would wonder why the innocuous comments by a cleric in his sermon in the church could suddenly be linked to the recent civil clash in Nsukka.
It is unfounded to link the Bishop’s homily on glaring injustice in the religious and ethnic divides in the country to the reprisal attack by hoodlums anywhere anytime in Nigeria.
It is true that Bishop Godfrey Onah has endeared himself to most people by his exemplary humility, brilliance and advocacy for social justice. He has clearly distinguished himself by his personal choice to serve the poor, comfort the vulnerable, and tend the wounded flock. With his Shepherd’s rod and staff, he has been dutifully defending the weak and defenseless. Part of his vocation is to be a watchman that tells truth to power. To be silent in a season of anomie is not an option. To hide in silence when the country reeks in injustice is a failure of his Christian duty.
Bishop’s role as a watchman should not be misconstrued as an opposition. He shouldn’t be detested as a thorn in the flesh of some political or religious interests. The recent subtle plot to cut him to size, gag him to slavish silence or possibly sentence him to the dungeon of dry bones is an attack on his freedom of expression both as God’s messenger and a patriotic citizen and would be resisted at all cost.
The truth is that no power can gag the truth, no matter its fury. Opposition to tyranny is a Christian duty, for which the learned Father Bishop, as he chose to be addressed, would be willing to lay down his life. Not even the threat of arrest could dissuade a true soldier of Christ. The crown of Calvary is a fitting badge for every soldier of Christ.
As Christians, we must always bear the armour of truth. We must live at peace with one another. But we must not be silent or indifferent to the suffering of our brothers and sisters.
The MURIC had in their statements claimed and it reads in parts
“A number of Muslims were also attacked and injured. Rev. Fr. Onah’s sermon is laced with hatred and bitterness. It is the most odious and insidious religious extremism.
“There must be consequences for such diatribe otherwise violence will run a full cycle. Religious leaders who instigate violence and watch as their hate speech consume people and properties have lost the moral right to be respected as leaders,” .Is this not more inciting than the sermon. It is therefore the contention of this group this is another way of looking for Religious crisis and government should not allow inciting sentiment to disrupt the peace in this country.
Enough is enough.
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