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Nigerian Bishop Bags Peace Award for Being “a champion, symbol, epitome of peace”

Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza comforting IDPs in Adamawa State.

The Bishop of Nigeria’s Yola Diocese, Stephen Dami Mamza on Wednesday, September 23 received the “Hero of Peace Award” for being a “champion, symbol and epitome of peace” in Africa’s most populous nation.

Bishop Mamza is among various personalities in Nigeria honored with the award whose recipients were announced on the International Day of Peace marked on September 21 by Sower’s Ministry International, a Nigeria-based Christian organization that promotes peace.

According to the leadership of the organization, Bishop Mamza who is also the Christian Association of Nigeria’s (CAN) Chairman in Adamawa State was recognized “for his numerous contributions and support for promotion of peace and unity in several ways.” 

“Bishop Mamza was among those named Peace Ambassadors this year; it is a well-deserved honor considering that he assumed office at a time when fragile peace, community conflicts and political crises cum differences were at its peak in the state,” the President of the organization, Rev. Nicodemus Ozumba has been quoted as saying

He added in reference to the challenges in Nigeria, “Not daunted by these, Mamza has since then remained a champion, a symbol and an epitome of peace in the state, because he has pursued peace with sincerity, diligence, integrity and fear of God.”

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Bishop Mamza was appointed as the Local Ordinary of Yola Diocese, within Adamawa State in 2011 when Boko Haram insurgents were launching their attacks in the region located northeastern of the country.

Among the worst Boko Haram attacks in Adamawa State include the January 2012 coordinated attacks on businesses, civilians, police stations and government offices that left at least 180 people dead; the November 2015 market suicide-bomb that led to loss of 30 lives; and the December 2016 double-suicide bombings that left at least 57 people dead. 

At the height of the insurgency in 2013, the then Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Adamawa State as well as in the neighboring Borno and Yobe States.

By 2014, Adamawa was reported to be home to an estimated 400,000 persons displaced by Boko Haram violence in the three states.   

In his pursuit of peace and unity, Bishop Mamza of the Catholic Diocese of Yola “has rebuilt broken bridges, reconciled the mended cracked walls” besides sacrificing a lot for “peace to reign in the Christendom and the state in general,” Rev. Ozumba acknowledged.  

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“He has become a pencil in the hands of God to keep the state on the right track and peaceful,” the President of Sower’s Ministry International further said in reference to the 50-year-old Nigerian Prelate and added, “He has strongly demonstrated his penchant for genuine peace in every situation without minding whose ox is gored.” 

In his response, Bishop Mamza thanked the Christian organization for the recognition and promised “to continue to pursue peace because without peace there will be no development in the Christendom and the state at large.”

Referencing the theme of this year’s International Day of Peace, “Shaping Peace Together,” Bishop Mamza probed, “are people really shaping peace together by their actions or inactions? Do people know and understand the essence or importance of peace?”

He probed further, “Do they know that enduring peace is inevitable in every society? Do they live or cohabit and work in peace, or are they weapons of war and peace?” 

The Bishop challenged Christians and Muslims in the state to continue preaching peace saying only that can foster unity among the people of God.  

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Others honored with the peace award include the Chairman of the Muslim Council of Nigeria Adamawa Chapter, Alhaji Gambo Jika; Bishop of Yola Diocese for Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN), Rev. Amos Jika Yakubu; and the Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.

Bishop Mamza has been on the forefront campaigning for peace and Christian unity in his country. 

At the beginning of the year, he appealed to politicians in the country to stop using political parties to divide and create enmity between Christians, whom he said, “can still be in different political parties but can still be of one mind and one heart.”

Following the January 20 killing of Rev. Lawan Andimi, a Protestant Pastor and the CAN Chairman in Michika local government area of the State of Adamawa, Bishop Mamza led other Christian leaders in declaring three days of fasting and prayer.

The three days, he said, were “to seek God’s divine intervention regarding recent killings in Adamawa state.”