The Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has appealed to President Muhammad Buhari to end the unprecedented waves of violence and brutality in the country, which it remarked, were largely targeted at Christians.
Their call was contained in a statement issued yesterday by the CBCN president, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze and the secretary, Most Rev. Camillus Umoh.
The bishops, who lamented the pervasive insecurity in Nigeria, said that whether at home or on the road, most Nigerians, in all the parts of the country, live in fear because they were no longer safe.
According to them, 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 had traumatised many citizens.
They further said that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes make public shows of them on social media, but Nigerians do not hear of any arrests or prosecution of the criminals, stressing that it raises grave questions about the ability and willingness of the federal government to protect the life and property of the ordinary Nigerians.
Akubeze said: ”To make matters worse, many communities are constantly threatened, harassed and sometimes even sacked by herdsmen, as they seek to take over more territories to graze their cattle forcefully.
“Aware of our moral responsibility, may we, once again, remind all the arms of government in Nigeria and all whose responsibility it is to protect Nigerians that without security there can be no peace and without peace, there can be no development or national growth.
“We, therefore, appeal to the government to immediately put a stop to this unprecedented wave of violence and brutality aimed particularly at Christians. We also call for the arrest and prosecution of all those behind these senseless killings that sow the dangerous seeds of hate and distrust among the various segments of the Nigerian society.
“We are sad. We are in sorrow and grief. But we are confident that the light of Christ, which shines in our hearts, will brighten the dark corners of our Nigerian society. 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,” he said
The bishops also appealed to the international community to come to the aid of the Nigerian government in the fight against the daredevil terrorists, who want to graze Nigeria, saying that the consequences, should they succeed, would be grave not only for the West African sub-region but also for Africa as a whole.
“To all our faithful, therefore, we make a passionate appeal: The present situation in Nigeria challenges all of us to a life of coherent witnessing to the Gospel. The impact of our Christian faith must be felt in public life,” Akubeze said.