Today being Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, Catholics all over Nigeria are dressed in black or at least black armbands as a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims of terror and insecurity in the Country.

Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need this morning, Father Greg Nbashi of the Catholic Diocese of Jalingo, North East Nigeria said that the essence of wearing the black is to identify with all who have been victims of insecurity in the country- kidnapping and banditry, Fulani herdsmen, boko haram insurgents. “As a church we are trying to cry out to God for divine intervention in the situation we have found ourselves”, he said.

“Apart from the fact that today we mark the season of lent, which is a season of grace, prayer and penance, we are also praying for peace because we know that without peace there will be no development or national growth”, he added.

At Mass this morning in the Church of Our Land Queen of Peace, Gold & Base, in Jos, Middle Belt of Nigeria, Catholics were seen in their numbers wearing black in compliance with the directive by the Catholic Bishops Conference.

A Lay Faithful from the Archdiocese of Jos, Efe Williams in his comments prayed that these “forty days bring peace, unity and progress upon Nigeria”.

Another young Catholic from the Diocese of Jalingo, Rejoice Justine prayed:

“Heavenly Father as we embark on this years Lenten season have mercy on us. We remember and mourn the souls of our brothers and sisters who have been victims of insecurities in Nigeria and the whole world, may their gentle souls rest in peace”.

In a statement, earlier signed by the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, the faithful were invited to join a “Day of Prayer Procession” to kick off the Lenten season, to protest the state of insecurity in the country.

The statement is being read today in all parishes today.

The statement decries the public show of impunity by the perpetrators of these crimes on social media, the constant threats to many communities, and the lack of arrests of the criminals by the government.

Emphasizing the importance of peace, the statement reads: “May we, once again, remind all the arms of the government in Nigeria and all whose responsibility it is to protect Nigerians that without security there can be no peace, and without peace, there can be no development or national growth.”

The CBCN also called on the international community to come to the aid of the Nigerian government in its fight to restore security and stability in the country.