Be Responsible, Protect “lives, properties of Nigerians”: Cardinal-designate to Government

Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, interviewed by Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh, National Director of Social Communications in Nigeria. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Cardinal-designate in Nigeria has challenged the Federal government of the West African nation to become responsible and protect the lives and property of citizens amid increasing cases of kidnappings and murder.

In an interview with the National Directorate of Social Communications of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke who is among the 21 new Cardinals named by Pope Francis on May 29 said that kidnappings and killings targeting Catholic Priests in Nigeria are worrying.

“We are all worried on how human life is being treated in Nigeria, in the world but particularly in Nigeria,” the Cardinal-designate said, and added, “Human life, be it of the Priest or any other human being is equal before God.”

No special regard should be given to Priests or Bishops, he reiterated, adding that all human life should be regarded “with all sacredness that is supposed to be associated with it.”

Prayers offered for the respect of human life are extended “to the government of the federal republic of Nigeria to live up to the responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians,” he said in the interview that was published Thursday, July 7.


The pioneer Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Ekwulobia Diocese that was erected on 5 March 2020 regretted the fact that there seems to be no safe place in Nigeria. He said, “All of us consider ourselves in danger … no part of the country including my local Diocese, or local group, is safe.”

In the interview with the National Director of Social Communications, Fr Michael Nsika Umoh, the Nigerian Bishop who resigned in 2018 following sustained opposition to his Episcopal appointment for Nigeria’s Ahiara Diocese encouraged Nigerians “to hold onto God” amid challenges.

“Let us continue to hold onto God in spite of all the challenges and the disappointments from the leaders of the Nigerian society,” he said, and added, “Even the Church leaders, let us hold firmly to God who is kind, compassionate and loving.”

Recalling his reaction to the news of being named Cardinal, the 59-year-old Bishop said, “When the news of my appointment as the Cardinal came to me, I got the shock of my life because it never crossed my imagination that such news would come to any of the Priests of the Diocese of Ekwulobia, talk less of coming to me as an individual.”

On what the naming means to him, the Cardinal-designate said, “The appointment is a constant reminder to me that I am a child of God…and someone that God has brought into this life to be used to achieve whatever He wants.”

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He said that he sees his being named Cardinal “as an opportunity given to me once more to do my best to worship God well and to render service both to God and humanity.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.