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Published on 04 May, 2012

Restraint is coming to an end in Nigeria

Nigeria (CAN/MNN) — Restraint could
be nearing an end in Nigeria.

The leadership council of the Christian
Association of Nigeria (CAN) issued a "final" warning to the
government this week demanding a response to the militant Islamists'
eradication campaign. Boko Haram has regularly widened its targets in its
insurgency which has killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009.

There's been a new surge of deadly
violence over the last several days. Attacks have been increasing steadily since
Christmas Day.

Enough is enough. CAN released a statement saying that the
Church leadership has been encouraging the faithful not to respond with
violence, "but they can no longer guarantee such cooperation if this trend of
terror is not halted immediately."

Islamist group Boko Haram has taken
credit for many of the attacks on Christians in Nigeria, while scores of other
attacks have not been claimed by the group but bear their hallmarks.  

While urging calm, church leaders want the violence to stop, and
they want better protection. Panic, in
this case, would give the terrorists exactly what they want: chaos and an
opportunity to make a grab for power.

Time is short. There are
some Churches who are ready to take things into their own hands. According to CAN's statement, "The Christian leadership have only
managed to restrain the militant groups in various churches in the country, but
now they tell us that their patience is running out."

Not all Muslim leaders
support the Boko Haram. There are some
who decry the group's tactics.  Council
leaders noted some cooperation. "We
wish to commend those Muslim leaders who believe and are working for peaceful
co-existence of all Nigerians irrespective of religious and ethnic backgrounds.
We have reasons to believe that those who are calling for a jihad are not
speaking for all Nigerian Muslims, since the call is emanating from a
particular section of the country."

However, Christians
make easy targets, which is why they're usually at the receiving end of a call
to jihad. Oritsejafor says it's not
because of weakness that they do not retaliate, says CAN, "but because our religion expects us to love
our neighbors as ourselves and to be at peace with all people so much so that
when we are smacked on the left cheek, we turn the right cheek."

The
statement went further to suggest secession is possible if the attacks continue
unabated. What the Church wants is the
opportunity to follow Christ without fear of intimidation or violence. "We call on law enforcement agents to
carry out their Constitutional responsibility without fear or favor. They
should arrest promptly and bring to justice those who make irresponsible calls
for the destruction of our fatherland."

CAN's
last warning was ominous. "Should
the police fail in this regard, the Christian community in Nigeria will have no
other option than to do whatever it deems necessary in every possible way to
defend herself."

Ask God to surround those who are
grieving with His love, peace, and comfort. Pray that the perpetrators of this
violence will repent and turn to Jesus Christ. Pray that Christians in Nigeria
will keep their eyes on Jesus, persevere in their faith, and not grow weary or
lose heart.

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