Christians in many parts of Northern Nigeria, despite the incubus of a possible terrorist attack, trooped out today to attend church services in celebration of Christmas.
In kaduna, attendance was high in Churches amidst tight security as worshippers were vigorously screened.
Cars were also screened before gaining entrance into and around Church premises.
Mr. Joel Danjuma, a worshipper, said in spite of rumours of attacks in some states, it would not deter him from performing his religious obligation.
Danjuma said the directive by the Inspector General of Police that was telecast about the need to tighten security, allayed his fears.
Mrs Murna Sunday said the security check imposed was necessary as it gave parents the confidence to bring their children to Church, without fear of the “unknown”.
In Gombe state, reports also spoke of high attendance in churches.
Services were peaceful with a combination of police, State Security Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, providing security in all churches.
A Catholic priest in Kaduna, Rev. Fr. James Tella, also tasked Christians to show love by constantly assisting the needy and the poor.
Tella gave the advice in his homily.
He urged Christians to emulate the virtues of Jesus Christ as specified in the holy Bible.
The priest also stressed the need for the people to assist the poor and less privileged in the society all the times not necessarily during festivities.
Tella advised Christians to adhere strictly to the teaching of the holy Bible, by maintaining good relationships with God and people always.
One of the clerics in Gombe, Rev. Fr. Sunday Waraka, an Assistant Parish Priest of St. James Catholic Church, Gombe, enjoined Christians to celebrate the occasion according to Christ’s injunction.
Waraka urged them to share whatever they had with the needy, poor and avoid committing atrocities in the name of celebration.
“If you celebrate the Christmas committing atrocities, remember, Jesus will say to you `I came but you did not receive me or know me’ ,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Gombe State Command, DSP Fwaje Atajiri, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the celebrations were peaceful.
He said the command had deployed its officers and men to all the churches and taken other measures to ensure hitch-free celebrations.
Atajiri assured the people of the state of the command’s determination to protect lives and property.
In Dutse, Mr Yakubu Musa, Pastor of Assembly of God’s Church, commended the Jigawa Government for the maintenance of peace in the state.
Musa told the News Agency of Nigeria after the Christmas church service that worshippers came out en mass to pray without any fear of attack.
He urged the government to maintain the safety of all citizens in the state.
Musa urged Christians to emulate the teachings and practice of Jesus Christ and be kind to people, irrespective of their religious leanings.
NAN reports that the celebration was peaceful as security was beefed up around all the churches in Dutse.
In Abuja, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) in Abuja on Tuesday, appealed for a permanent solution to the menace of terrorists and kidnappers in the country.
Okoh made the appeal during a sermon at a Christmas Day service at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp, Abuja.
In the service attended by President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan and members of the first family, Okoh said Nigeria needs “freedom from terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbery and political wickedness’’.
He said freedom for prisoners was part of the message of Christmas and asked all to pray for the end of the “harassment by terrorists in Nigeria.
Okoh said: “If you look at this church environment you will see so many security men on duty.
“It is not everybody that can bear with this kind of situation; since the emergence of terrorists, many people no longer go to church and many select the day they go.
“So it is our duty and prayer that in the coming year, Nigeria will know perfect security and that men and women will return to normal life.
“And nobody will stop anybody from visiting anywhere; if you want to go to Maiduguri or Kaura Namoda, you should be free to go.”
The cleric also expressed concern that kidnapping in the country was being fuelled by greed and “love of money’’.
“This type of people, we cannot justify them by talking of unemployment; the kidnapper is not interested in unemployment, because you cannot pay him.
“They have become used to spending big money and if from one kidnapping he gets N50 million, tell me where you can employ such a person?’’
Earlier, the primate wove his sermon around the theme of the ”Messiah’s presence in our midst’’ and based his message from Isaiah, Chapter 9 and the gospel of John chapter 1.
He said Jesus Christ came into the world to give eternal salvation, redemptive light, peace and hope to the poor.
The leader of Anglicans emphasised that Jesus mission of giving succour to the poor should be a “guiding principle’’ to all political, religious and traditional rulers.
On this, he commended Jonathan’s administration for its efforts at encouraging food security through local rice production and encouraging of consumption of cassava bread.
He also observed that government was bringing hope to the poor by the current efforts aimed at resuscitating the moribund railway sector and fixing the nation’s electricity problems.
In Lagos, clergymen admonished Christians to use the season of Christmas to draw nearer to God and pray for peace, unity and progress of the country.
They spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Christmas day.
Pastor Humble Ololo of Assembles of God Church urged Christians to reflect on their lives and not to get carried away by worldly celebrations.
He said: “I enjoin Christians to draw nearer to God and pray for the peace and unity of our country.
“We should use this period to pray for divine intervention against incessant cases of terrorism and kidnapping among others.’’