Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said as dangerous, deadly and heartless as killings by Fulani herdsmen in Adamawa, Benue and Jos and that of Badoo in Lagos and Ogun states were, retaliation was not the answer.

This was even as he has warned that the danger of allowing politics to play a part in seeking solution to the killings was like pouring petrol into already burning fire.

According to him, politicisation of these tragedies would put the nation’s unity and stability in danger.

The Vice President spoke at the Inter-denominational church service for the 2018 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration, held at the National Christian Center, Abuja.

According to him. “The first obligation is to religiously defend the unity and territorial integrity of Nigeria by words and action. Rebuking firmly and sometimes by recourse to law those who by their word and action threaten to break the bond of nationhood paid for so dearly by the blood and sweat of our military.

“Second is to defend faithfully the freedoms and rights that forms the fundament of our society in nationhood. This include the right to life, it involves the duty of the state to provide adequate security for life and livelihood of citizens, right to liberty, freedom of worship amongst others.

“Yes, we have seen in the past few years how these rights have been challenged by the mindless extremism of the Boko Haram in the north east and how again our fallen military, the police and even the civilian populace have risen jointly to route these criminals combatants and restore peace in most communities in that zone.

“We have also seen even recently the killings that has resulted in attacks of herdsmen on farmers and communities and also where communities have attached herdsmen.

“The state of violence and loss of lives in Rivers State, the Badoo killings in Lagos and Ogun, the President has ordered the police and armed forces to deal decisively with these killings to ensure that the perpetrators are found and punished. He has also through various strategic meetings task security agencies to work to find lasting solutions to these issues.

“But we recognized that as dangerous and deadly as heartless as these killings are, is also the danger of allowing politics to play a part and to sometimes as they say pour petrol into already burning fire.

“We must not permit the politicization of this tragedy. One of the reasons why for years Boko Haram strife was because of the politicization of the insurgency. They were those who were planning to benefit politically from the tragedy and the painted the opposition then as the perpetrator.

“Again we have seen some today who want to benefit politically. The killing of women and children in Adamawa, Benue, Jos and several other places, stoking the embers of ethnicity and religion. By their hate speeches they want to fix their criminal acts of a few individuals on the whole tribe and a whole people and will want to create religious crisis if we allow.

“Our obligation is to stop them from playing dangerous politics that could threatened our unity and stability, just as we continue to enforce the peace in the troubled area.

“As Bishop Kwasi said, it is the poor and helpless that suffer the most in crisis and it is to this poor and helpless that we have sworn that we will protect and we will defend.

“The armed forces remains the bastion and exemplar of national unity. Nigerian men and women of every trip and religion standing side by side in the greatest danger, being harmed and dying, side by side under one flag, in the defence of one nation. No attainment is worthwhile unless some are prepared to sacrifice for it, make the ultimate sacrifice.

“Our nation today stands as one to honour those who have paid and continue to pay their price, night and day for our safety and for the safety of our land. And we pledge that the labours is these heroes past and present shall not be in vain.”

Osinbajo reminded Christians that the gospel of Christ is about preaching peace with their actions as well as praying for their enemies.

According to him, “Let me also say that for those of us who are gathered here, we are Christians and one of the demands of our faith is that we must preach the gospel. When we preach the gospel not in words but in action, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that obliges us that we pray for our enemies and that we continue to work and make sacrifices even for those who despitefully use us. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that commands us to ensure that we do not repay evil but that we repay evil with good. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that says vengeance is not ours, but of the Lord’s. It is the same gospel that reminds us that no battle is ours.

“And so it is for us as Christian, for us as born again Christians to ensure that we preach this gospel of love, this gospel of self sacrifice, this gospel that has changed the world and the gospel that continues to change the world. Is not a gospel of hate, is a gospel of love, and is a gospel of sacrificial love especially one that was demonstrated by the almighty God Himself by allowing His son to be shamed and killed for all of us.

“I pray that our nation will rise together, I pray that the bloodshed we have seen in our nation will cease and that our nation by the blood that has already been sacrificed, there is no greater sacrifice that our nation will thrive, our nation will prosper and that together we will build a great nation from all parts of this nation whatever our tribes maybe, whatever our religion maybe, whatever our hopes maybe. We must work together as Nigerians.

“God bless the armed forces, God bless the 36 states of Nigeria and God bless federal capital Territory and God bless Nigeria.”

In his message the Most Rev. Benjamin Kwashi, commended the Armed Forces for their sacrifices to keep the nation safe from from Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, against men and women who do not mean well for this country, in the process paying the supreme price.

He wondered how those in authority sleep when people are dying daily from one crisis or the other.

He said he has conducted more funerals than weddings and naming ceremonies in Jos, where he is resident.

According to him, “Today is not as significant to the army as it is to the civilians. We want to say we appreciate those of you still in service and we celebrate you. Thank you for the work you are doing.

“We are honouring men and women we have died because of their love for this country. Great men who have fought and died, I pray those who are looking at paying their pensions and gratuity will do so in the name of God.”

He said as a member of an association of ex service men, their constant prayer is for God to keep the soldiers because “we believe that to keep Nigeria one is something that must be done.”

The cleric said during his time in service, only they know was Nigeria and not religion nor tribe. He said even if there will be restructuring, Nigeria must remain one.

Reading from the book of Acts 10:34-35, Kwashi, said God shows no partially but anyone who fears him is accepted. “God shows no partiality, he accepts every race and gender, and he requires every nation, race and gender to fear him and do what is acceptable to Him.

“Cornelius the centurion an equivalent of a brigadier General was a good man, he feared God. He was affected by the good living of his neighbours. That is how our lives as Christians ought to be.”

He said God is looking for those who will deny themselves some comfort in other to bring succour to others.

He said around where he lives they were able to count 1,200 orphans. He said orphans and widows don’t need December handout of rice only, “that is hypocritical, so January to December what do they eat?”

He also made case for National Assembly urging them to make provision for them.

Kwashi said, “Why should people serve the country and then survive by begging? I beg National Assembly to make provision for them because some of them were amputated. They should make provision for houses for them and other social services.

“You don’t have business seeking elective service if you can’t solve problems.

“There are three principles and that is service sacrifice and prayers.”

First scripture reading 1 Samuel 16:1-13 by Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas

Second scripture reading Matthew 3:13-16 by Senator Emmaneul Bwacha.

Intercessory prayers were said for President Muhammadu Buhari and other arms of government, insecurity in the country, Armed Forces, Police and Paramilitary, for Peace and unity in the country, for the repose of souls of the fallen heroes, the Veterans and their families and for all Nigerian citizens both home and broad.

A minute silence was observed in memory of the fallen heroes as well as special offerings collected for The Legion.

The service also featured praise and worship as well as special rendition from combined Military Choir, Armed Forces Christian Women Fellowship and FCT CAN Mass Choir.

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