NIGERIA – Catholic bishops accuse government of indifference


The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has expressed displeasure at the federal government’s attitude towards the killings perpetuated by Fulani herdsmen.
In his opening address at the First Plenary Session of the Conference held from March 4 to March 10 in Abuja, Nigeria with the theme “Nigeria: Citizenship, Rights and Responsibilities”, the CBCN President and Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama said: “The lesson to be drawn from the recent Southern Kaduna circle of attacks is that we intentionally, as a nation, hardly get to the root causes of crucial matters.
“Our approach is often lackadaisical, parochial or indifferent tinged with sentiments of ethnicity, regional interests and religious bias instead of patriotism and thus crippling efforts at practical solutions. A clear policy followed by concrete and creative measures on how to stop the menace of herdsmen is long expected from the Presidency and yet the herdsmen become so fierce and assertive! Could the same zeal used in tackling Boko Haram not be applied? Sambisa forest has fallen, but when will the empires of kidnappers and marauding herdsmen fall?” he asked.
In a strong worded communiqué issued at the end of the Conference, the Bishops called on the government to intensify her search on the immediate and remote causes of violence in the Country.
“We notice the upsurge of sporadic incidents of terrorist attacks, menace caused by armed Fulani herdsmen…the following questions need to be considered: who arms the murderers? What are their sources of funding? Who are the instigators of this violence?”
The Bishops observed that under the current administration, politics is still being played in a do or die fashion, even as “the nation suffers from a lack of clear direction”. They asserted that rather than work towards assisting the needy, elderly and pensioners, the administration has focused more on “pampering those already very well off”.
The CBCN however commended the efforts of security agencies, stating that “sporadic incidents of terrorist attacks make it not yet possible for many people to return to their abandoned homes and villages”. They disclosed that though the church has been experiencing economic downturn, it has continued to intervene in helping the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-east and the poor in other parts of the country.
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan See, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, in his homily maintained that “the exploits of armed herdsmen continue to cause major concern all over the nation.”
“The Southern Kaduna tragedy shows that we need to get to the roots of the problem in its various ramifications. It should be made clear that the system of roaming with animals all over the country is no longer sustainable. People must readjust to keeping their animals within ranches, according to world best practice”.
Grace Ameh