Catholic Bishops are not at all amused by the consistent killings and bloodshed in the country, undermining what little success has been made in the fight against Boko Haram.
A statement issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) January 16, said the country is under siege and warned that it is easier to prevent war than stop it after it has started. They say war is looming in the country.
“Our beloved country appears to be under siege from many forces. Repeatedly, innocent citizens in different communities across the nation are brutally attacked and their sources of livelihood mindlessly destroyed. Property worth millions of Naira, including places of worship, schools, hospitals and business enterprises are torched and turned to ashes,” the statement signed by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President of CBCN and Secretary, Most Rev William Avenya, Bishop of Gboko said: “In the words of Thomas Hobbes, these criminals have made life in our nation ‘nasty brutish and short’, causing people to live in perpetual fear, anxiety and desperation.
While thanking God and the Federal Government for the success so far recorded in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the north east, the bishops said they are appalled by the repeated occurrences of other ugly incidents that are tearing communities apart and generating tensions.”
The statement continued:”We believe that if there is some degree of political will, our public authorities can take adequate steps to put an end to these human tragedies and save the country from the calamities of a civil war. It is wiser and easier to prevent a war than stop it after it has broken.”
The Bishops expressed shock at the recent mass slaughter of unarmed citizens by herdsmen in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba states.
“We commiserate with the families of the deceased, whilst we pray for the blissful repose of the dead and the quick recovery of the wounded. At the same time, we totally condemn such brutal massacres of innocent people. Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy but this is never to be done at the expense of other people’s lives and livelihoods,” they said.
The Bishops warned that people may resort to self defence if Government was found wanting.
“If government is incapable or unwilling to protect the lives of her citizens before marauding herdsmen, people might be tempted to resort to self-help in defence of their lives and property when threatened or attacked. This will, no doubt, lead to the complete breakdown of law and order in the country,” they said.
They urged Government to urgently and seriously rise up to her primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of her citizens and ensure that such mindless killings do not reoccur.
According to CBCN, Government should use its array of intelligence officers to unmask the perpetrators of the killings and their sponsors, disarm them and bring them to book.
On the issue of open grazing, the bishops said Government should rather encourage cattle owners to establish ranches in line with international best practices rather than introducing “grazing colonies”. “Farmers and herdsmen have a lot to contribute to the socio economic prosperity of our nation. A more enduring strategy must be worked out for their peaceful co-existence and mutual respect,” they added.
Additionally, the Bishops urged Government to stop leaving kidnap victims and their families at the mercy of the heartless and greedy kidnappers.
They called for better community policing.
“Given the effective security equipment available in the modern world of high technology and considering the huge security votes set aside every month at the state and federal levels, our communities should be better policed by security agents who are better equipped and well trained to handle the security challenge of kidnapping that is bringing our nation to its knees.”