The former President of RECOWA-CERAO, an umbrella body of all the Catholic Bishops in West Africa has cried out to the Government in Nigeria concerning the children kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Nigeria. he was quoted as saying, “Our thoughts, and prayers go to the Hundreds of Students, teachers and Women abducted in Nigeria”

The Correspondent of RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA based in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria has stated that the Catholic Archbishop of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese has expressed spiritual solidarity with the hundreds of students and women abducted in the recent past in the West African nation.

In his March 10 homily on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as Laetare Sunday (rejoice), Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama shared his “thoughts and prayers” with the nearly 300 students reportedly abducted on March 7 from a government-owned school in Kuriga town of Kaduna State in the country’s Northwestern region, as well as the over 200 women and children reportedly kidnaped in Borno State in the Northeastern region of the country.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the abducted 287 pupils of Kuriga primary school in Kaduna State kidnapped by gunmen, and the many women and children allegedly abducted days earlier by Boko Haram in Borno State,” Archbishop Kaigama said at St. Paul’s Gwagwalada Parish of Abuja Archdiocese.

According to the Associated Press (AP), among the 287 students abducted during the March 7 raid on Kuriga primary school by “motorcycle-riding gunmen” were at least 100 children aged 12 years or younger.

This latest abduction in Kaduna of school children in Kaduna State is “near the West African nation’s capital,” the March 8 AP indicates, “is one of the largest school kidnappings in the decade since the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Borno state’s Chibok village in 2014 stunned the world.”

Meanwhile, the abduction of women and children in Borno State, which according to AP, is blamed “on Islamic extremist rebels who launched an insurgency in Borno in 2009 seeking to establish their radical interpretation of Islamic law in the region” involved “people who were out searching for firewood … displaced by violence in northeastern Nigeria”.

“The victims of the latest attack had left several displacement camps in Borno state’s Gamboru Ngala council area when they were ambushed near the border with Chad and taken hostage,” AP says in its March 7 report, adding, “The incident occurred several days ago but details are only emerging now because of limited access to information in the area.”

In his March 10 homily, Archbishop Kaigama said, “Despite the many socio-economic and security challenges, this Sunday, called ‘Laetare Sunday,’ invites us to take a break from the penitential mood of Lent as we did on ‘Gaudete’ Sunday in the third Sunday of Advent.”

“We must not give up on life, neither must we give in to despair over current sufferings, but offer them to God, who alone can change our situations for good,” he said, adding that God does not abandon His people in the face of difficulty and uncertainties.

Referring to the Gospel Reading of the day, the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop, who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese said, “We are challenged today that when we are stung by the ‘snakes’ of sin and challenges of daily life we must turn to Jesus because as St. Augustine said, ‘God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.”’

He urged the candidates he was to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation to seek the power of the Holy Spirit to witness to Gospel values as “soldiers” of Christian values.

“The candidates for confirmation are called to open their hearts to God to receive the gift of His Spirit to fortify them in grace as soldiers of the gospel,” the Local Ordinary of Abuja Archdiocese since November 2019 said during the March 10 Eucharistic celebration.

He added, “Our gaze on Jesus on the cross is the remedy to break away from the shackles of sin. Without the cross, there is no crown, victory, or glory.”

Archbishop Kaigama also recognized with appreciation the role of women in the Church as they marked International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024.

“Congratulations to all women on the International Women’s Day celebrated on the 8th of March. We are very proud of our ‘ever ready’ and dynamic Zumuntan Mata, the Catholic Women Organization (CWO), who are great pillars of support in the Church and society,” he said, and added, “We continue to advocate that women must be valued, appreciated, and celebrated.”

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