The Catholic Church is asking President Muhammadu Buhari to disarm the violent herdsmen killing innocent people across the country, if he is serious about protecting all Nigerians. This message was contained in an open letter which the Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev Anthony J.V. Obinna, wrote to the President, read on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral, at the end of a prayer- protest.
The prayer protest was called by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), on May 22, 2018, to coincide with the mass burial of two priests and 17 worshippers in Benue State. In the letter, Archbishop Obinna reminded the President that it was his duty to protect all Nigerians. “Every Nigerian has a constitutional right to be protected by you and your administration, especially those who have no visible economic or political prominence.
We thus expect you to protect the unarmed and the unprotected as well as to disarm the violent criminals among us and to bring them to book,” he said The Archbishop also reminded President Buhari that he expressed concern about the security and safety of Nigerians in 2015, when his campaign team visited him. “Your Excellency, you may recall that when you visited me in Owerri, in early January 2015, during your presidential campaign outreach, I asked you two crucial questions: Can we live together, as one people, one nation in Nigeria? Can we, with the multiplicity of our conflicts stick together as one country? Three years now since you became president of Nigeria, these questions still remain heatedly pertinent, in the face of the murderous carnage, visited upon unarmed citizens by fellow citizens, armed with hatred and violence.”
His Grace told President Buhari that although he assured Nigerians in two recent addresses that he would not rest until all criminal elements and their sponsors were brought to justice, what is happening in reality suggests the opposite. “Mr President, it is this nobly worded assurance that we wish to feel and see, more visibly and audibly across Nigeria. For now, what we feel and see clearly are the series of tragic deaths affecting several families and the cry of unarmed, unprotected citizens.
Just six days after the burial of the two priests and seventeen lay faithful in Makurdi, the Diocesan Sacred Heart Seminary in Jalingo, Taraba State, was attacked, leading to the shooting and beating of two priests and the sudden closure of the seminary,” he said. “The young students of the Seminary had to be sent home to help them recover from the trauma of the violent attack. The attackers were herdsmen who forcefully wanted their cows to graze freely right inside the Seminary.” Earlier in his sermon, during a concelebrated Mass at the Cathedral, to round-off the procession, the Archbishop prayed God to have mercy on Nigerian Government and the people.
He expressed concern that as the general election was drawing near, politicians would want to offer people money in exchange for their votes. He urged the faithful to shun corruption, not to sell their consciences or worship any human being for money. “Do not worship another human being. Do not worship the Archbishop, the Governor or the President,” he added, criticising those who use their status, position and Government money to do evil and perpetrate injustice.