13 June 2018

Nigeria: Catholics, Anglican Bishops Cry Out Over Herdsmen Killings, Starvation in the Land

The Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, Nigeria, have bemoaned the continued maiming and killing of innocent Nigerians in the country by suspected Fulani herdsmen, regretting the flip-flop approach of the Federal Government to the matter.

This was even as the Aguata branch of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Anambra State, has lamented that the level of insecurity in the country had reached an elastic stage and asked President Buhari to resolve the issues in the interest of national unity and cohesion. The NBA made this known during its Law Week with theme: The delicate nature of the Nigerian state stigmatized by general insecurity: The legal perspective.

The bishops spoke at different fora with South-East Voice in Owerri, last week, pointing out that the nation's leaders were behaving as if Nigeria was still being ruled by the military.

The Catholic Bishop of Owerri, Anthony Obinna, who spoke during the demonstration of the Catholic faithful over the killing of two reverend fathers and 18 Catholic faithful during a Morning Mass in Benue State about two months ago, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the problem of Fulani herdsmen holistically. He further lamented that starvation was being used to force people to like the government.

Also, the Anglican Bishop of Bukuru Diocese in Plateau State, Most Rev. John Zhumbes, said the issue of killings had generated a lot of problems adding that issues of insecurity had reached a boiling point in the country.

Zhumbes was in Owerri, Imo State, for the sendforth colloquium organised in honour of Bishop Cyril Okorocha and his wife, Eunice, at the Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of our Lord, Owerri.

Zhumbies said: "Naturally, everybody wants some level of peace and comfort. And where you find none, the whole thing will disorganise the society. A society where crisis faces you all around, sometimes 24 hours a day, is not good. God created this society that men may live in peace and health."

However, Bishop Obinna further said: "We have been living together as brothers and sisters. We have witnessed inter-tribal marriages in this country, but now, you can see how killings by herdsmen have brought pains and sorrow on many families in this country.

"At this point, the President should know that he must be a father to everyone and not to a section of people. We are in Nigeria, and should be seen as one. The way things are going, you hardly believe that we have left the military era. The issue of governance is key to the development of this country.

"We say no to thuggery in the polity. We must encourage Nigerians to go and register and have their Permanent Voter's Card, PVC, in order to choose the right persons to be in positions of authority next year.

"We also use this opportunity to condemn the style of governance where a leader must starve the governed just to get followers."

In his view, the Anglican Bishop of Bukuru Diocese, John Zhumbes, said: "As it is today, government for reasons that are either political, sentimental, or ungodly, has not been able to give the electorate comfort; so nobody is happy. It is like things are boiling right now."

According to him, "Nigeria is one of the most lawless countries in the world, everyone does whatever he likes. Can you just imagine, that one will take a gun and without any provocation, come to you and gun you down? If justice is not pursued, perpetuation of crimes will not stop."

The bishops said that they were peeved by the pains resulting from the spate of attacks on vulnerable citizens of the country just as they condemned the manner such issues were treated with kid gloves.

They then called for a pragmatic approach to the dreadful activities of the herders, which were already bringing the country to the brink of disintegration.

Meanwhile, the Aguata branch of the NBA has also decried the high level of insecurity which had resulted in uncountable number of deaths of Nigerians, warning that it might adopt a radical approach against the perpetrators.

The NBA attributed the ugly situation to alleged "complete systems collapse arising from inactions of the security agencies whose constitutional duty it is to protect lives and property of Nigerians."

Earlier in his welcome address, the Aguata NBA chairman, Mr Cliffors Okoye had decried what he termed high level of insecurity in the country.

Okoye regretted that some of the security agents take questionable decisions which were capable of casting doubts on the integrity and impartiality of their persons, warning that if the trend continued, NBA would "apply the instrumentality of the law to retrieve our lost values."

According to Okoye, due to failure on the part of law enforcement agents to provide adequate security, citizens formed neighborhood watch groups with a view to policing their environment, a measure which to a great extent, reduced the menace of kidnapping and armed robbery until the police authority ordered the vigilante groups to surrender their arms.

The guest speaker, Arthur Okafor, SAN, identified ethno-religious conflicts currently plaguing the nation as the worst form of insecurity in the country as it had resulted in large volume of killings.

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