The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the 19 northern states and Abuja yesterday declared that no force or evil plan could stop tomorrow’s Christmas celebration in the region.
This is coming just as anxiety mounts in the North over the safety of Christians in the region as they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
CAN, while calling on security agencies to protect Nigerians during the celebration, appealed to Muslim leaders to prevail on the Boko Haram Islamic sect not to attack Christians during the Yuletide.
Speaking with National Mirror in Kaduna, Northern CAN Public Relations Officer, Mr. Sunday Oibe, said Christians would not accept the killings of their members on Christmas Day, “which is a day of peace.”
The association noted that the continued attack on Christians and churches was deliberate, adding, however, that it was impossible to wipe out Christianity from the region.
Oibe also called on Christians to go about their normal activities during the Christmas and to worship God without fear.
CAN appealled to the Federal Government to wipe out terrorism in the country, while expressing the fear that the present situation might degenerate into a religious war “which Nigeria may not survive.”
The CAN spokeman said: “We are appealing to Boko Haram to shelve their threat on Christians in the North during this Christmas celebration because they claimed to be working for Islam but Muslims celebrated their Sallah and there was no Christian attack against them.
“We are also appealing to a respected Muslim leader in Nigeria, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, together with good Muslim imams to please preach their message that would reach Boko Haram to drop their threat because Christians in the North are running out of patience
“We can’t take the killings of our brothers, children and women in churches during Christmas anymore.
“This period is special to Christians all over the world; it is a period of peace. But if Boko Haram goes ahead with their planned attack, according to security warning in the newspapers, it will be a declaration of war against Christians in Nigeria.
“We are appealing to them because Christians have nothing against Muslims.
“The continued onslaught against Christians and churches across the northern states is clearly some of the deliberate but impossible attempts to wipe out Christians from the region
“We are assuring all Christians that the church will not allow that to happen. We are once again calling on the Muslim Immams and ulama in Nigeria to live up to their task by calling on all Islamic sects in the country to have respect for human lives and stop these attacks and killings.
“We fear that the situation may degenerate into religious war which Nigeria may not survive as a country.
“We call on Christians to worship their God in heaven without fear because no force or evil will stop Christianity in the North and Nigeria at large. Every Christian should go ahead with their church activities, that is our message to them.
“While commending security agencies for their good work, we call on them to protect the lives of Christians and other Nigerians during and after this season.”
The leadership of the association in Kano State has also appealed to its members in the state not to be overwhelmed by the state of insecurity “as the Almighty God is in total control.”
This is as churches in the troubled commercial city recorded depleted congregations during the Sunday service, following Saturday’s attempt to bomb the offices of two communication firms, MTN and Airtel.
The attacks, in which the two suspected bombers were blown up, were believed to have created panic across the Christian community, resulting in the apparent boycott of Sunday’s service.
Chairman of the Christian body in Kano, Bishop Ransom Bello, in a text message to National Mirror urged Christians to maintain a high spirit and believe that security is of the Lord.
He said: “To shame the enemies and evil men in our midst, we should come out en masse on Christmas and offer prayers to commemorate the birth of our Saviour.”
The CAN boss stated that from all indications and communications between his office and security agents, the Christmas celebration would be marked “in an atmosphere of peace and love.”
He quoted security chiefs in the state as assuring that necessary steps had been taken to beef up security during the celebrations.
Bello, however, admitted that there were isolated cases of attacks, but noted that such were not enough to justify boycott of Christmas service.
The security situation in Kano has heightened a few days to the Christmas and New Year festivities, with huge presence of soldiers and riot policemen in the streets of Kano.
Our correspondent reports that apart from heavy vehicular patrol by the Joint Task Force, JTF, police armoured personnel carriers were spotted in sensitive locations in Kano, the state capital.
The Kano State Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has repeatedly warned potential troublemakers to keep off the streets of Kano or face the consequences of their action.
He confirmed that Kano had been fortified with adequate security arrangement that would guarantee a hitch-free Christmas and New Year celebrations.