Catholic Bishops have raised the alarm over the level of insecurity in Nigeria, calling on the Federal Government to take urgent and drastic steps to control the situation to stave off looming danger.
Rising from a meeting in Ekiti, Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan comprising Ibadan Archdiocese, Oyo, Ondo, Ilorin, Ekiti and Osogbo Dioceses, noted that time was running out and warned government at all levels, traditional as well as civil authorities to rise up to the challenge and save the country from impending doom.
This was contained in a communiqué read by the Metropolitan Bishop of Ibadan, and President of the 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, yesterday.
The clerics accused the Federal Government of treating killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen and other crimes with kid glove, saying such government’s approach was creating palpable fear among Nigerians.
They described as unfortunate a situation where killing, lynching, kidnapping, and brigandage have become the order of the day in Nigeria, and urged the government to have a clear cut strategy through which perpetrators of the heinous acts could be apprehended and punished, so as to secure the lives of the people.
“When this insecurity problem started, it was in one corner of the country, but now it has gone round the entire geopolitical zones of the country. If there is no security, there is no reason for 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.
“Lack of 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 to live in fear on daily basis.
“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 Federal Government’s directive through the Ministry of Interior to licence places of worships for celebration of marriages and issuance of marriage certificates, the Bishops said such a proposal should be approached with caution and should be given a second thought, especially as it affects imposition of annual levies on these institutions. They, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to halt the move, as according to them, it is laced with a hidden agenda.
“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,” they insisted.
The Bishops warned the Federal Government against taking steps that could tinker with the freedom of the press, warning the media should not be gagged under any guise.