WOLE BALOGUN, Ado Ekiti
Catholic bishops have urged the Federal government to stop treating the issue of herdsmen’s killings and other crimes with kids’ gloves, saying such an approach from the government is creating palpable fear among Nigerians.
They said it was sad that the government has not even had a clear plan to secure the lives of the people and have those perpetrating the acts to be apprehended and punished.
The Catholic bishops also appealed to the Federal government to halt plans to license and tax places of worship in the country, saying they suspected that the government has hidden agenda behind this proposed action.
The clergymen said these in a communiqué issued and read by the Metropolitan Bishop of Ibadan and the President of Nigeria Catholic Conference, Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, Gabriel Abegunrin after their meeting held at the Pope John Paul II, Pastoral Centre in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State on Tuesday.
The Catholic bishops called on governments in the West African sub-region, to invest more in youth development to reduce crimes like illegal immigration, prostitution, kidnapping, and other social menaces.
“When this insecurity started, it was one corner of the country, but now it has gone round the geopolitical zones; what is the government doing? If there is no security, there is no reason for the government to exist.
“It is unfortunate that Nigerians wake up each day to lament woeful news of killings, lynching, kidnappings, and brigandage in the country. Many people including priests have fallen victims to this tragically insecure environment.
“The lack of a clear pattern of punishing crimes and lip service commitment to the protection of lives and property on the part of the Federal government and security agencies have made many Nigerians living in fear day to day.
“There seems to be no end in sight especially with allegations of killings by Fulani herdsmen being left unattended to. Time is running out for Nigeria if the security is not improved. We call on governments, traditional and other civil authorities to please save our country”, they begged.
On the crimes of alleged self abduction and jailing of priests for rape, the bishops said these were manifestations of the total rots in the Nigerian society and loss of family values, saying all the citizens must share the blame.
“It is sad that we are losing our core family values. We must take care of our children and imbibe the culture of being our brother’s keepers like we had before because what is happening today has to do with our backgrounds.
“We know the economic situation calls for us to overwork ourselves, but parents must look for time to take care of their children. This is the only way we can rid our society of evils and have a brighter future”, they said.
The bishops commended governments on their improved commitments to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions.
On the Federal government’s directive through the Ministry of Interior to license places of worship for the celebration of marriages and issuing of marriage certificates, the bishops said such a proposal needed to be approached with caution and should be given a second thought, especially as it concerns the imposition of annual levies on these institutions.
“Contemporary circumstances in Nigeria demand that government must approach religious matters with utmost caution so as not to be considered partisan and partial on national issues.”
The bishops warned the Federal government against taking steps that could tinker with the freedom of the press, saying the media should not be gagged under any guise.
“Only courageous pressmen can now come out boldly to talk. But must all work hard and remove whatever that is working against the freedom of the press? Government must give the press that full freedom for them to be able to speak the truth to power.”