Nigerian Churches Issue ID Cards To Members To Curb Attacks

Some churches in Lagos State have intensified efforts to safeguard the lives of their members following the latest attack on a Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State, on June 5.

It is understood that the Catholic Church in Lagos has also commenced issuing identification cards to its members in their different parishes.

According to Tribune, most churches and mosques have engaged the services of the police and private security team.

Although the policy of membership cards to members isn’t entirely new to the church, the current security reality is now reportedly making it compulsory for members of the church.

It was learnt that parishes may soon be demanding the cards during services to know who truly were members.

While those without the cards won’t be barred, for now, Tribune quoted a source as saying the ID card, which was originally for administrative purposes, might soon become what grants access to persons during services.

Reverend Father Paul Bastos, the Parish Priest of Catholic Church of the Resurrection (CCOR), Magodo, is also said to have instructed members of his parish who were yet to obtain their identification cards to get them because they could become access cards soon.

It was gathered that most parishes are already issuing their member’s ID cards. A member of St. Agnes Parish in Maryland confirmed the issuance of the cards.

A regular caller at the Falomo parish of the church, known as Assumption Parish, also confirmed the increased security checks for those coming to worship, especially on Sundays.

Commenting on the development, the Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, while addressing the faithful during the closing ceremony of the Archdiocese’s synod, asked members to secure their parishes from terror attacks.

“If you see anything, say something,” he said while asking the members to be vigilant and watchful of happenings in their environment.

He advised members to work with their parish priests to acquire security gadgets and recruit more security personnel to screen vehicles and persons entering the church.

It is also understood that vehicles coming in for services are also thoroughly inspected while members are warned to desist from coming to church with big bags.

Also speaking, the director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola, said prayer alone is not enough to stop terrorist attacks on places of worship and worshippers.

He said: “Religious leaders in all groups across the country must realise that we are living in a very dangerous time. These evil people don’t stop at attacking religious groups. In my humble opinion, I think their target is a crowd.

“They are not out for religious groups alone, they attack anywhere they find a large gathering of people. They attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train because they were sure there was going to be a large number of people on board. They attack schools because they are sure there would be a large number of children there. Ransom is their main goal and motivation.

“What the religious leaders should do is to ensure that these men of evil don’t gain access into their worship centres. They must adopt whatever method to secure their worship centres. They need to consult security experts and identify retired soldiers and police officers among the congregation to use their expertise to protect themselves.”