Gyang Bere, Jos
Catholics across Nigeria are expected to wear black attires on Ash Wednesday as a sign of mourning and solidarity with victims of kidnapping and other violent crimes.
A statement by the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), to be read at masses across Catholic churches on Wednesday, criticised the Federal Government for not showing the ability and willingness to protect Nigerians against insurgents and violent crimes even as it sought the intervention of the international community on the matter.
The statement was signed by Augustine Akubueze and Camillus Umoh, president and secretary of CBCN respectively.
“As a mark of mourning for all our brothers and sisters who have been victims of the most recent wave of violence against Christians, we are all dressed in black today and offer our prayers and penance for their repose. We invite the universal church and all Christians to join us in prayers for our dead brothers and sisters and for peace and security in Nigeria. We equally appeal to the international community to come to the aid of the Nigerian government in the fight against these daredevil terrorists, who want to destabilise our country. The consequences, should they succeed, will be grave not only for the West African sub-region but also for Africa as a whole.The repeated barbaric executions of Christians by the Boko Haram insurgents and the incessant cases of kidnapping for ransom linked to the same group and other terrorists have traumatised many citizens. That the perpetrators of these heinous crimes make public shows off them on social media and Nigerians do not hear of any arrests or prosecution of the criminals raises very serious questions about the ability and willingness of the government to protect the lives of ordinary Nigerians,” the Catholic bishops said.
Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Martins, in a message to Catholics, yesterday, noted that there is “high insecurity in the land. We shall participate in the National prayer procession that will come up later, on a date to be announced,” Bishop Martins said.
Meanwhile, Senator Istifanus Gyang has urged his colleagues in the Senate to reject the bill seeking the establishment of an agency for the rehabilitation and reintegration of repentant Boko Haram terrorists and bandits.
Gyang, who represents Plateau North in the National Assembly, in a statement by Mr Musa Ashoms, his Special Adviser on Media and Protocol, called on all senators to reject the bill given what he called “its obvious negative implications for the security of the nation”.
He warned that passing the bill was to incentivize terrorism and put the nation in perpetual harm’s way.
The lawmaker disassociated himself from the bill that had been introduced for mention on first reading at the Senate and the senators would have the opportunity to debate the bill on second reading.
“The bill is not only uncalled for but assaults the sensibility of Nigerians in view of the fact that most of the victims and communities affected by insurgency, banditry and violent attacks are still suffering from neglect and lack of the much needed government attention and intervention despite repeated calls.
“The victim communities displaced by insurgency and banditry from their ancestral homes are the ones to be rehabilitated and reintegrated as against terrorists and bandits that are responsible for their pain and plight,” he said.