Christian groups and church leaders are warning Christians to take extra security precautions and avoid public places and markets because of planned a protests by Muslim groups against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Various social media platforms are also warning Christians to, “exercise caution in and around shopping centres, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars and other places where crowds gather in and around the Federal capital territory (FCT), from now through the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season.”
The fear comes from the experiences of past attacks on Churches and Christian businesses like the Danish cartoon episode after which churches were torched and Christians killed in Maiduguri, Borno state and other northern cities in Nigeria in 2006.
The anxiety is further heightened by the warning of the Commissioner of Police in Abuja, Sadiq Bello, on Thursday, 7 December, who said Boko Haram is planning an attack on six towns; Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, and Yobe states, including Abuja the country’s capital.
“The threat to attack the city is real; however, we want to assure members of the public that we are working in collaboration with other sister security agencies to ensure that we all enjoy a peaceful Yuletide,” said Bello.
The US and UK missions in Nigeria issued a warning to their citizens of possible Boko Haram’s attacks on the Federal Capital Territory and other states.
“The Americans and British government warned us of an impending threat and it would be stupid of us not to do anything. God will not forgive us if we don’t do anything and that is why we are here,” Bello said.
Bello pleaded with the public for information. “Police work is not magic, we depend on members of the public to make contribution and that is why we are urging members of the public to come up with useful information that would help us nip crimes in the bud.”
The Rev Canon Nenman Gowon, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Jos north said: “All churches must not take any chances this festive season. Every suspicious action around churches must be questioned and every measure taken to protect lives of people. We know God will and has always protected us, we must, on our part, be as wise as serpents just as we are as gentle as doves.”
The CAN chairman, who is also the senior special assistant to the Plateau State governor on religious affairs added: “The Islamist cattle herders are unrelenting in killing Christians in the villages, many go unreported. People must always remember that their lives are constantly in danger and must go about the Christmas celebrations, meetings and parties wisely. Fulani cattle herdsmen will attack most unsuspecting villages and people walking in isolation.”
The Plateau State government, central Nigeria, has warned Muslims planning on any protest against Donald Trump’s announcement of dire consequences when arrested.
Hassan John is the West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.
Image credits: Author/GCN