THE Catholic Archbishop of Benin City, Dr. Augustin Akubueze and the Catholic Bishop of Uromi Diocese, Dr. Donatus Ogun have both appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the growing menace of attacks by herdsmen in Edo State.
The bishops who spoke against the backdrop of last Friday’s attempt on the life of John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, said the appeal became urgent following the brazenness with which the herdsmen commit atrocities in the state without adequate security checks.
Cardinal Onaiyekan was attacked by suspected herdsmen as he was returning from the 10th anniversary of the enthronement of Akubueze as a bishop and ceremony marking the creation and 10 years anniversary of the Diocese of Uromi along the Benin-Ekpoma road.
“We thank God that Cardinal Onaiyekan survived the attacks of some criminal elements last week on the Benin- Ekpoma road. If something had happened to him, what would have been the story? We thank God nothing happened and we are using this opportunity to appeal to the President to provide adequate security for the citizens of Edo State,” Akubueze said, in an interview in Benin City.
The Catholic Archbishop stressed that the responsibility of a government is to secure her people stressing that “what we are asking for is not too much for our president. If there is no security of lives and property, no investments or meaningful economic development can take place in the state and the nation at large. We need security and we are demanding that from our government.”
Akubueze noted that the spate of attacks by the so-called herdsmen across the country “is becoming frightening,” adding that there was an urgent need by the state and federal government to deal with the issue of security to protect lives and property of Nigerians with all seriousness.
Recounting the ordeal, the driver to Onaiyekan who simply identified himself as Segun said, the attack happened along the Benin-Ekpoma road close to Ehor about 5.00pm last Friday.
His words: “We left Benin for Uromi, and about 5.00pm on the fateful day, I think very close to Ehor, I saw a big pothole and decided to slow down the vehicle. I would have passed the spot with speed but because the cardinal was sleeping, I decided to slow down the vehicle so that he won’t wake up. Suddenly, I saw three men come out of the palm tree plantation by the road side and started shooting at the vehicle. I looked ahead of me, two of them were firing from a distance at the vehicle and I looked behind me another one was firing at the vehicle from behind, so I decided to use reverse gear.
“The other vehicles, who saw me coming with reverse started clearing off the road and when I got to a safe distance, I decided to stop the vehicle and people started running to see what had happened. It was then we realised that the bullets shattered the left passenger window glass and made huge holes on the panel of the door. We just thank God nothing happened to the cardinal or any of us in the vehicle.”