Home Top Stories Sit-at-home: Churches in South-East shun prayer procession

Sit-at-home: Churches in South-East shun prayer procession

Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo

The one-day prayer procession called by Igbo bishops and traditional rulers across the South East, yesterday, witnessed partial compliance.

Our correspondents who went round the state capitals in Abakaliki, Awka, Umuahia, Owerri and Enugu observed that while some churches shunned the prayers, there were  partial observance in others. Most residents said they were not aware of the directive.

The prayer procession was a step towards ending the observance of the Monday sit-at-home  and its  adverse effects on the economy of the region.

In Enugu, commercial activities were paralysed as residents remained indoors. Banks, schools and markets were shut as streets were empty, except for few vehicles on the major roads.

Security operatives were seen patrolling the streets, while some were stationed in strategic places, especially in the early hours of the day.

The expectation that people would gather at their various churches at 11am for the prayer failed as streets and roads were deserted and people did not come out of their houses nor go to church for the prayers.

A catholic priest who did not want his name in print said he did not receive any directive regarding the prayer procession from the Bishop of Enugu Diocese.

Daily Sun gathered that some priests, however, held prayers with their family members and few people living in the church compounds.

In Awka, Anambra State, most markets, including the popular Eke Awka market and shops along Zik’s Avenue and the ones on the streets were closed. All banks and schools were also closed.

The ever busy Awka-Onitsha expressway was empty, filling stations closed and motor parks empty as human and vehicular movements were near zero within the capital territory.

Also, the  boisterous junction at the temporary site of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka otherwise known as UNIZIK Junction, was devoid of the usual heavy human and vehicular traffic.

However, special services were held in some churches in Awka and environs in line with the directives by the bishops and monarchs.

Governor Chukwuma Soludo took part in a church service at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Ekwulobia. He said after the Mass that the idea was to seek God’s intervention on the security problems ravaging the South East.

“We have prayed to God, admonished our people and made a commitment to ensuring that everyone concerned gets expeditious justice.

“Following the unanimous agreement of our people that today, Monday, April 4, 2022 marks the official end to the Monday sit-at-home in Anambra State.

“I will be announcing the membership of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee that will look into all the areas of sincere challenge, including interfacing with the Federal Government on behalf of prisoners of conscience. I have also offered amnesty to all our brothers in the various forests around us. Give us your guns and trust us to help you forge a meaningful living,” he said.

In Imo State, social and economic activities were in coma as major roads and streets were empty even as commercial vehicles shunned the roads

Banks, filing stations, schools and markets were all shut. Civil servants also joined other institutions in obeying the order out of fear.

Catholic faithful, however, held a prayer session at the Maria Asumpta Cathedral, Owerri. Director of Communication, Owerri Catholic Archdioceses, Fr. Raymond Nzereogu, said the church would continue to pray for the return of peace in the zone.

In Ebonyi State, our correspondent who went round the state capital, Abakaliki, observed that churches did not hold  prayer sessions

Efforts  to get the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) , Mr. Abraham Nwali, for reaction was not successful at the time of filing the report.

The directive to churches on the prayer was contained in a letter signed by the secretary, representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution, Archbishop Raphael Opoko included that “the church bells should toll by 10.58am in all churches where they have bells installed.”

On Sunday, announcement for the prayer for Ala Igbo was made at various churches with emphasis that it must be at the same time (11am) yesterday, with some priests encouraging their members to ensure they join in the prayer with their families at home in case it became difficult for them to come out.

Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in Enugu State, Rev. Emmanuel Edeh said he was happy with the initiative and the people behind it. He expressed hope that the prayer which had already started in Anambra State would soon be observed across the entire states of the South East.

Meanwhile, the Enugu Diocese of the Methodist Church of Nigeria has embarked on special prayers to seek an end to violence in the South East and Nigeria in general.

The prayer session was in line with the outcome of the Bishops’ Conference recently held in Enugu directing all denominations to sound bells in their churches by 11am on Monday for commencement of the special prayers.

In his sermon, the Methodist Archbishop, Most Rev Christopher Edeh prayed for total deliverance of the zone and the country from banditry, insurgency and terrorism.

The archbishop appealed to those who caused mayhem in the zone to have a rethink adding that the ‘sit at home’ order had caused a lot of damage to the economy of the South East.

Edeh prayed God to save the country from incessant maiming, kidnappings, killings and destruction of lives and property by evil doers.

“We come to you in tears Lord, because you are the only one that can save Nigeria from her current challenges. Everyone is confused; no one understands what is happening again as the society has lost focus. We pray for restoration of peace, justice, equity and fairness where everyone will have a sense of belonging,” Edeh said.

The archbishop also prayed for wisdom for leaders to be able to handle the security challenges as well as for protection of security agencies who sacrificed their lives in combating the vices.

He called on the youth to shun social vices and channel their potential for positive development of the country urging them to reject calls by politicians to engage in political thuggery. (Daily Sun)

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