Sunday Cannot Be A Sit-At-Home Day
By Prof. Fidelis I Agwulonu (Rev. Fr)
Today, I listened to the video message circulating online, as released by Mazi Simon Ekpa, making his address and instructing (with threats), that December 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14, 2022, will be Ghost-Town in Igboland. This got me worried over the disregard for Sunday, the Day of the Lord, and the impending loss of the sense of the sacred. Mazi Ekpa was baptized as Simon, with his patron saint being either Simon (Peter), the Head of the Apostles and First Pope, who was martyred for the sake of Christ; or Simon the Zealot, who sustained the enthusiasm of his belief in Christ and the Gospel and suffered martyrdom too. Why would a Simon turn around to fight Christ and His Church by targeting Sunday? Imposing a sit-at-home order in Igboland on a Sunday questions the integrity of his name as Simon, and challenges the faith of all Christians in Igboland and Nigeria as a country. He, Simon Ekpa, will have started what the rumoured Fulani Jihadists are yet to imagine doing in Igboland, and may have facilitated the feared persecution against Christians in Southeast Nigeria, which the Fulani Jihadists had been accused of planning to do in Igboland. It poses a question of who to trust, and whose narrative we are to believe. Who becomes the enemy to the Igbo, the Fulani, or the Igbo man sitting comfortably in his room in Finland, shutting down socio-economic and religious activities in Igboland, including and especially Sunday worship? “If the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain do its watchmen keep vigil” (Ps. 127:1).
This handshake has gone beyond the elbows. This order is undemocratic and insensitive, coming at a time people are preparing for Christmas, the great celebration of the birth of Christ, which is a home coming moment for the Igbo, who are known as the ethnic group with the greatest number of Christians in Nigeria, nay Africa. This time, he did not get it right, and as a test of humility and the influence of European civility where he is domiciled, one might not be wrong to expect his apologies to the Christians not only in Igboland, but universally, where Christianity is the leading religion with over 1.3 billion members. A similar move was made in 2021, when Biafra Day happened to fall on Sunday, May 30; a sit-at-home was declared to honour the fallen heroes, but when reactions came, the sit-at-home was moved to Monday, May 31, 2021. We want to believe that this time, the stretch of sit-at-home days will not be a ploy to achieve the purpose of downplaying respect for Sunday, which is a day sacred to the Lord, which is the Third of the Ten Commandments of God to His people.
Christians are expected to ignore Mazi Simon Ekpa if his orders are not withdrawn against the sit-at-home on Sunday, December 11, 2022. It will be a disaster if the Igbo turn against themselves: the foot soldiers of Mazi Simon Ekpa against Christians of (and in) Igboland; who will in self defence move against any aggression from ‘godless’ individuals who will be either paid or compelled to stop Christians from Sunday WORSHIP of the ALMIGHTY GOD. This might be an instance of the Crusades in Igboland, and the fears are that the same Fulani Military and Police who are being suspected to be either active or complicit in the killings in Igboland will be the same people who will be ‘unleashed’ on the Igbo to neutralise insurgency, a likely disaster brought upon Igboland through Mazi Simon Ekpa’s orders.
The Igboland is the heartbeat of Christianity in Nigeria, and I am aware that Christians will overwhelm Mazi Simon Ekpa’s foot soldiers, and it will be horrendous to imagine that Christians may be tempted to lynch aggressive oppressors, on the LORD’S DAY. Not one person’s blood should be spilled further in Igboland, and in Nigeria, and let no one lead the other into temptation, and may the Lord deliver His people from evil. This is persecution coming to Christians, and they will always overcome, as this persecution is little compared to the early Christian years when Emperors, Kings and godless people had no one to challenge them. Today, no one has a monopoly of any anything, not even violence.
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It is evident that the Nigerian State has woefully failed Nigerians, especially in the security of lives and property, yet it is not enough reason to close down activities in Igboland for a week. People are returning money to the Banks, before the deadline for submission of old currencies. What has happened in Igboland in recent times is very troubling, giving rise to calls for self defence, as reported by Tunde Adedeji, for The Daily Post of December 2, 2022: Ohanaeze youths warn of alleged impending bloodbath in Southeast. Considerations should be given for the hardship Nigerians are passing through at this time, and the already truncated economic life of the Igbo, whose businesses are attacked outside Igboland by some other ethnicities, and are attacked in Igboland by the enforcers of sit-at-home orders.
We regret the death of innocent people all over Nigeria, and especially of the recent reports of killings in Enugu State. May they rest in peace. The living should not die of hunger or the multiplier effects of the sit-at-home order as announced, and the ripple effect any violent incidents might lead to. God forbid a spread of violence in Igboland, already surrounded by enemies, kidnappers, ritual killers, human traffickers, armed robbers and all sorts of vendetta seeking individuals.
The Federal Government has a duty to clear itself, the Military, Police and other agencies of any suspicions of ethnic cleansing against the Igbo. Judging from the report of Intersociety (International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law), the present administration leaves much to be desired. Two Newspaper reports of interest will be cited: Sahara Reporters, January 20 2022: Nigerian Army Reacts To Allegation Of Killing Over 1000 South-East Residents Since October 2020 (https://saharareporters.com/2022/01/20/nigerian-army-reacts-allegation-killing-over-1000-south-east-residents-october-2020). The Army has always debunked such allegations, but the events of the past 21 days in Igboland are troubling. Vanguard Newspapers of December 4, 2022 has this headline: IPOB/ESN: Enugu GOC under fire over insecurity in S/East (https://www-vanguardngr-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.vanguardngr.com/2022/12), as reported by Nnamdi Ojiego, Chinedu Adonu & Ugochukwu Alaribe. The allegations that the Army looked away while the Igbo are massacred by armed herdsmen, has reignited the suspicion among the Igbo people as being victims of killings by the Nigerian State through the instrumentality of the Nigerian Army.
Let there be no further bloodshed in any part of Nigeria, and let the order to boycott elections and resist elections next year not affect the dreams of many, that Mr Peter Gregory Obi may be the expected restorer Nigerians have been waiting and praying for. Biafra should come, when it will, in a bloodless negotiation. Enough blood has been shed already: about three million Igbo men, women and children killed in the Nigeria-Biafra war (1967 – 1970); and about a million in all the crisis against Igbo people in Northern Nigeria (shrouded in religious riots), and other instances of violence against the Igbo since the end of the civil war. Enough of the killings and social upheavals in any part of Nigeria. May God grant us peace and joy. Amen.
Prof. Fidelis I Agwulonu (Rev. Fr) can be reach on email@example.com