The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, comprising Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti a and Osogbo Dioceses, rose from their first meeting for 2021 and identified with the ongoing efforts of the governors of the South Western States of Nigeria to regulate the activities of Fulani herdsmen within the zone.
The meeting was held the Jubilee Conference Centre, Oke-Ado, Ibadan, on Monday and Tuesday and was chaired by Most Rev’d Gabriel Abegunrin, the Archbishop of Ibadan Diocese.
The roll call at the meeting also comprised Most Reverend Felix Ajakaiye (Ekiti), Emmanuel Badejo, (Oyo), John Oyekola (Osogbo), Jude Arogundade (Ondo), and Paul Olawoore (Ilorin). The retired archbishops of the church, Felix Job (Ibadan) and AyoMaria Atoyebi (Ilorin), also graced the meeting.
A communique issued at the end of the meeting, entitled: ‘Building Up Nigeria Under the Rule of Law,’ and read by Abegunrin, stated: “We identify with the ongoing effort of the governors of some South Western States to regulate the activities of Fulani herdsmen within the zone and for the communique issued after their recent meeting with stakeholders.
“We note that insincerity, selfish interests and lack of political will had in the past, caused needless destruction of life and property and inflicted untold pain and hardship on innocent citizens.
“However, our governors must shun deceptive adulations and empty promises on issues that impact the security of life and property. They must work with the security agencies to courageously implement the law in all cases and sanction those who blatantly and murderously flout it in their territories. No Nigerian or foreigner should be above the law in any part of the country.”
On the current security concerns in Nigeria, the bishops said: “With current realities, it has become more necessary than ever to demand the review of Nigeria’s security architecture. Given the campaign promises of the present government and the cauldrons of insecurity erupting all over the country .it is unfortunate that the Federal Government has remained impervious to this call.
“As a consequence, we parade a Nigerian Army that has not been able to effectively check the atrocities of Boko Haram for over a decade. How does one deny the allegation that kidnapping and banditry are abetted by government when even State governments pay bandits and herdsmen as a means of placating them? How can we claim to have a Nigeria Police, when the body is no longer trusted to protect the same people it was set up to serve in many parts of the country?
“It is frustrating to see governors, constitutionally empowered as the first security officers of their states, being impeded and rendered ineffective by mitigating actions and pronouncements allegedly made on behalf of the Federal government, when they take lawful steps to respond to security needs in their states.
“Such manner of governance, that exerts itself to protect the interest of a segment of the population at the expense of the security of life and property of the majority, makes the emergence of militias and self-appointed messiahs inevitable.
“We therefore join all well-meaning Nigerians who have called on the authorities to allow alternative and lawful initiatives, which are established for protecting life and property like the South Western Security Network (SWSN), codenamed Amotekun, to thrive. Such initiatives deserve to be supported and optimised as a complimentary security organization for the benefit of the people in different parts of Nigeria.”