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Pope Calls for Joy, Hope at Easter Vigil Celebration

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 Pope Francis called on the faithful to rejoice and hope in spite of the personal and global political crises at the celebration of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.

These crises are “boulders of death,” the head of the Catholic Church said in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Specifically, he mentioned the ruthlessness of hatred and the cruelty of war, which break the longing for world peace, but also selfishness and indifference.

The 87-year-old said Easter would roll away those boulders.

Around 6,000 people attended the celebration to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ in St. Peter’s Basilica.

According to Francis, Easter should encourage people and give them hope: “This is the power of God: the victory of life over death, the triumph of light over darkness, the rebirth of hope in the midst of the ruins of failure.

After Holy Week, the Easter Vigil is a cause for joy, he said.

“Sister, brother, may your heart burst into joy on this holy night!” the pontiff said in his homily.

On the night before Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death on the cross.

At the beginning of the celebration, the Easter candle was carried through St. Peter’s Basilica in a procession in complete darkness – the darkness is intended to symbolise life without faith.

The candles of the priests and faithful were then lit from the Easter candle to the cry of “Lumen Christi,” Latin for the “Light of Christ.”

During the celebration, Francis baptized eight adults: four Italians, two South Koreans, a Japanese man and a woman from Albania.

The pontiff performed the ceremony sitting down.

Francis read his sermon himself, but his voice was hoarse.

On Good Friday, he had surprisingly decided not to take part in the Stations of the Cross service in order to preserve his health.

On Sunday, he plans to preside over the Easter Mass and give the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, Latin for to the city and the world. (dpa/NAN)

CRIME

Chief Imam’s Sallah Ram Stolen in Jos

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There was a drama as the sacrificial ram of the Chief Imam of the Mista Ali community in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, Imam Abdulkadir went missing on the eve of the Ed-el-Kabir.

Abdulkadir’s ram was reportedly stolen during a downpour in the area on the eve of the Ed-el-Kabir.

An Imam in the community, Haruna Yaqub, disclosed this during the sermon, shortly after the two Raka’at prayers.

Yaqub, who condemned the incident, described it as “insensitive”.

He added that the act showed that people lack fear for God.

The Imam said, “The Ram of our Chief Imam, which he purposely brought to sacrifice, has been stolen in the night.

We are really shocked by the incident. We were surprised to hear this story. This means that people are not God-fearing.

“It is scary that people have gone to the extent of stealing ram meant for religious activity.”

Speaking further, he urged people to be God-fearing and not engage in either stealing or any act of criminality.

He stressed that everyone will account for their actions on earth and hereafter.

“It is high time people repented and took the path of Allah. It is not too late. People should stop committing bad things and act according to Allah’s commandments,” he urged.

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Eid-el-Kabir:  Tinubu, Leaders Preach Peace, Religious Tolerance

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

As Nigerins joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Kabir, President Bola Tinubu, state governors, top government functionaries as well as other notable Nigerians have called for peace and religious tolerance to enhance peaceful coexistence.

The Eid-el-Kabir festival is celebrated by Muslims worldwide on the 10th day of the Hijri month of Dhual-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar.

Tinubu, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hazmat, the former state governor, Babatunde Fashola, and the Chairman of Dangote, Aliko Dangote, joined hundreds of Muslim faithful to observe Eid prayers in Ikoyi axis of the state yesterday.

Other dignitaries present at the Dodan Barracks ground in Ikoyi were the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu; former lawmaker, Gbenga Ashafa, the former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji amongst others.

Accompanied by top government functionaries, the President arrived at the Eid praying ground at about 8:55 am yesterday with cheers from many worshippers who trooped to the venue to pray and catch a glimpse of the Nigerian leader.

The President enjoined Nigerians to reflect on the essence of the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir, which bears strong meaning and significance for the nation.

CAN President, Calls for Unity in Challenging Times

Relatedly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday urged all Muslim faithful to unite in challenging times and focus on God for a better Nigeria.

President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop Daniel Okoh in his goodwill message to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, made available to journalists in Abuja.

He appealed that everyone should set aside their differences, heed the call for unity and peace, and trust in God’s promise for a better Nigeria, because  the nation is in dire need of God’s mercy, peace, and unity.

 “As Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, a festival symbolizing sacrifice, obedience, and faith, I, on behalf of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), extend warm felicitations to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

“On this auspicious occasion, I urge all Nigerians to embody the values of sacrifice, obedience, and faith in our daily lives. Let us set aside our differences, heed the call for unity and peace, and trust in God’s promise for a better Nigeria. Our nation is in dire need of God’s mercy, peace, and unity.

“In the face of current challenges, let us unite in love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Let us pray for divine intervention in our security, economic, and political struggles. May God’s comfort and strength support the displaced, the bereaved, and the traumatized.

“As the Muslim Ummah celebrate this festival, let us remember that our nation deeply needs God’s mercy, peace, and unity. Let us work together to build a Nigeria where all citizens can thrive, regardless of religion, tribe, or creed. Our diversity is strength, and together, we can overcome any obstacle.

“I call on all Nigerians to embrace peace, love, and forgiveness. Let us pray for divine intervention in our national struggles and strive towards building a united and prosperous Nigeria. Let us remember the displaced, bereaved, and traumatized, offering them our support and solidarity,” The statement read.

The CAN boss who prayed that God bless Nigeria and grant the nation peace, unity, and prosperity.

Almajiri Commission Calls for Enhanced Commitment to Education

In the spirit of Eid-el-Kabi, the Executive Secretary/CEO of National Commission for Almajiri and Out-of-School Children’s Education (NCAOOSCE), Dr. Muhammad Sani Idris, has called on all stakeholders to renew their dedication to education as a fundamental right for every child.

He said this in a statement issued to commemorate Eid-el-Kabir.

“Education remains the cornerstone for unlocking the potential of our youth and empowering them to contribute meaningfully to society.”

 “As we commemorate Eid-el-Kabir, a celebration of sacrifice and faith, I extend warm greetings to all Nigerians, with special recognition for the Almajiri and out-of-school children, who are central to our Commission’s mission,” he said.

While acknowledging President Bola Tinubu’s efforts to eradicate the challenges faced by Almajiri and out-of-school children in Nigeria, he said his commitment to education and human capital development underscores his administration’s dedication to the welfare of all Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable.

Looking forward, the National Commission for Almajiri and Out-of-School Children’s Education (NCAOOSCE)

The Executive Secretary reaffirmed the commitment of the commission to enrol 10 million out-of-school children in school by 2027, saying, “We are actively working to integrate Western education into the Almajiri school curriculum, ensuring a comprehensive educational experience that prepares these children for a brighter future.”

He said they would continue to collaborate tirelessly with stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry of Education, state governments, and development partners, to address the multifaceted challenges faced by the vulnerable children.

He said: “President Tinubu’s leadership and unwavering support have been instrumental in advancing our goals thus far. Together, we are confident in our ability to make a significant impact and ensure that every child has access to quality education, regardless of their background or circumstances.”

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Religion

Bishop Decries Low Knowledge of Catholic Doctrines Among Youths

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The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, Most Rev. Michael Ukpong, has charged the Catholic media practitioners to help disseminate the Church doctrines among the youths.

Ukpong gave the charge on Wednesday, when a group, known  as the Catholic Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN), paid him a courtesy visit in his office at the Mater Dei Cathedral, Umuahia.

He described the knowledge deficit  among the Catholic faithful as worrisome, saying that the phenomenon was more prevalent among the younger generation.

The cleric said that the prevailing delinquencies and societal ills could be attributed to ignorance and the lack of knowledge.

“All these challenges that we are witnessing are as a result of ignorance and the lack of knowledge,” he said.

Ukpong further appealed to the CAMPAN members to enhance their activities, in order that the church would feel their impact more.

“The association can do better to make greater impact in the church.

“You can also help to ensure that the activities of the church go viral in the social media because that is now the global trend,” the clergyman said.

He advised the National President of the group, Mr Chimdi Oluoha, to ensure that he excelled in his assignment in order to bring honour rather than shame to his home diocese.

He promised that the church would do the best within the available reaources to support him to succeed.

Earlier, the Abia Chairman of CAMPAN, Mr Hyacinth Okoli, said the visit was to invite the bishop to the 2024 World Communications Day celebration, scheduled for Sunday.

Okoli, represented by his vice, Mr Chikezie Onyeabor, also formally presented the new National President to the bishop during the visit.

Reports says that Oluoha, who was the immediate past Abia Chairman of the group, was elected at the association’s 2024 Convention held in Isele-Ukwu, Delta State, last week.

In a brief remark, Oluoha promised to discharge the duties of his office diligently and efficiently to take the association and the Church to higher height. (NAN)

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