From Jude Chinedu, Enugu
Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Calistus Onaga, has lambasted the Federal Government for its handling of security, describing it as selective and biased.
Onaga spoke while delivering Homily during the ongoing second plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu, yesterday.
He wondered why security agencies were swift in arresting Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and a Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, who were both outside Nigeria, but lame in tackling bandits and herdsmen wreaking havoc in farms and rural communities across the country.
He said secessionist agitations and insecurity in different parts of the country were caused by selective justice, marginalisation, poverty, incessant industrial actions and lack of education.
“People are attacked and maimed in the comfort of their homes, in schools, places of worship, and recently even at hospitals. And everybody, including the security agencies, seem helpless and hopeless. Indeed, it sometimes appears that even the government has lost control of the country. It is quite a pathetic and miserable situation, to say the least.
“The government, beyond condemning insecurity in the most absolute terms, must design, promulgate and be seen to be really implementing result-oriented policies to arrest the security deterioration.
“For instance, the swift way some agitators in our country are apprehended outside the shores of this land smacks of international standard. For those who still remember in the 1980s, a millionaire politician was put in a casket in an attempt to bring him to answer for his action. Those who did it almost succeeded but for the superior tactics of the British intelligence and Interpol.
“The human commodity was intercepted before arriving Nigeria. Then some few years ago, a popular Islamic teacher was followed to India in such a way that he abandoned his treatment and came back. He is still under strict surveillance, or better said under detention.
“Not so long ago, another agitator from lgbo extraction was reportedly picked up in Kenya in another demonstration of expertise and swiftness and he is now awaiting trial in Nigeria. Lastly, just few weeks ago, another was arrested in Benin Republic.
“The question that goes on in the minds of many Nigerians remains, ‘How come it is possible for our government to perform such these international fits in arresting considered outlaws outside Nigeria, and cannot capture the local rascals raping our women, maiming and kidnapping innocent farmers in the hinterlands, of the cassava farms in the South East, South South and rubber plantations of the South West, the multi-million naira farms of the Middle Belt and the school of the North East and North West of Nigeria? In these areas, we have less sophistication and minimum proximity in the nature of crime and criminals.
“Why are they so elusive and intractable? Are equal commitment and efforts being made by our law enforcement personnel in searching for these people like in the above-mentioned cases? And if not, where is justice? When this lopsided handling of issues in a nation happens, it goes to cause rancour and acrimony, because it gives the impression that some Nigerians are more important than others.
“To build a united, cohesive, and progressive Nigeria, therefore, every Nigerian should feel a sense of belonging and feel safe wherever they are in any part of this country. Resources and investments should be deployed equitably and strategically to achieve this feeling of inclusiveness across the nation, and to aid in calming the nerves of all those clamouring for self-determination,” he said.
CBCN President, Augustine Akubueze, lamented the level of insecurity and urged government to rise to its responsibilities.
“The right to self-determination should follow a civilised pattern and should not be demonised. The church believes the government should avoid criminalising those who disagree with them.
“The Federal Government has changed its service chiefs. The change is yet to produce the desired effects. The level of insecurity in every part of the country is of great concern to us. Too many Nigerians are dying preventable deaths. The federal, state and local governments should rise to their responsibilities,” he said.
The event, which started with about 78 bishops from across Nigeria in attendance, would end on Thursday, August 27.