Success Nwogu, Ilorin
There was tight security in Kwara State as Christians celebrated the 2016 Christmas in the state on Sunday.
The state commands of the Nigeria Police and that of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps had deployed 5,500 personnel in the state to ensure peaceful celebration of Christmas.
Our correspondent who monitored the Christmas celebration in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, reported that there were security officers, both in uniform and in mufti, in strategic areas in the state.
It was also observed that many Christians, who attended various church services, expressed gratitude to God for giving them the privilege of being alive to witness another Christmas in spite of the prevailing economic recession and the attendant high cost of living and hardship.
Reports from across the state as of the time of filing this report indicated that the celebration was peaceful and violence-free.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Kwara State Command, Mr. Ajayi Okasanmi, told our correspondent that the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olusola Amore, had deployed 3,000 police personnel in the state.
He explained that they were deployed in entry and exit points of the state, shopping malls, event centres, recreational centres, churches and flash points.
Okasanmi added that the CP ensured general police patrol across the state.
Also, the state PRO, NSCDC, Mr. Henry Bilesanmi, said the command deployed 2,500 personnel across the state for the Yuletide, adding that there were no reports of violence or any security breach.
The Olusin of Isanlu Isin in Isin Local Government Area of Kwara State, Oba Solomon Oloyede, on the sidelines of a thanksgiving service and reception for his elevation to a first class monarch, urged the state residents to imbibe the lessons of Christmas and coexist peacefully.
He appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and be prayerful as, according to him, the current national recession would soon be over.
He also called for collaborative efforts of the people and the government to accelerate the development of the state in particular and Nigeria in general.
The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, and a former acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged Christians to intensify prayers for divine guidance, favour and protection for Nigeria so that the country could overcome its current economic recession and the attendant hardship.
Ahmed, in a message by his Chief Press Secretary, Abdulwahab Oba, advised Christians to imbibe the lessons of the birth of Jesus Christ, embrace righteousness and allow the doctrines of the Bible guide their lives.
Baraje, who is currently a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, in a statement appealed to Nigerians to pray for Nigeria to overcome its security challenges.
He urged Nigerians on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray to Jesus Christ to rescue the country, adding that Nigeria was in dire need of prayers to confront recession.
Baraje, while urging Christians to emulate the exemplary lifestyle and leadership qualities of Jesus Christ, advised them not to over-engage in merry-making but should use the Christmas season for sober reflection and prayers.
He also appealed to adherents of Islam and Christianity to be tolerant, patient, peaceful and united to move the country forward and pray to God to guide the leaders.
Baraje condemned people fomenting trouble under the cover of religion and appealed to both Muslims and Christians to continue to live together in peace and protect the integrity of Nigeria as one nation.