“Peace is still possible”
The Episcopal Conference of Nigeria has called on the Catholic faithful and all Nigerians to brace up in the face of the prevailing crisis to put their trust in God while working hard to build a harmonious and peaceful nation.
The Bishops stated this in a Communiqué issued at the end of the Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) held 6-14 September 2018 in the Diocese of Sokoto, a core Northern state dominated by Muslims.
By holding the second plenary meeting for the year in Sokoto, the Bishops wanted to show that it is still possible for all Nigerians to join hands across religious, ethnic and political divides to build one, united and robust Nation that all would be proud of.
The warm reception by the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhamadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, as well as the candid interaction with the many traditional and religious leaders who were present at the opening ceremony, testify to the cordial relationship that exists between the Muslims and Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese.
The Bishops expressed the desire that this cordial relationship and mutual understanding will become a model for the adherents of all religions in the area and the country at large.
In past communiqués and other statements, the Episcopal Conference has condemned the spate of violence and high level of insecurity in the land. Yet, these have continued unabated. They observed with deep sadness how unarmed Nigerians are brutally slaughtered, owing to religious and political differences, boundary disputes, and other such reasons.
The Bishops equally observed that Government is often slow in responding to these violent occurrences and often allows many of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to go unpunished, thus creating a culture of impunity.
They called on Government to defend the life and property of every Nigerian citizen and strongly appealed that the thousands of internally displaced compatriots be helped to return to their homes and their land restored to them as quickly as possible.
With regards to the Country’s upcoming General Election in 2019, the Bishops said,
“For our dreams to be achieved, we must embrace a new way of governing ourselves. There is a need for genuine repentance and sincere moral transformation. It is the right of Nigerians to fully participate in the electoral process without intimidation and violence. The responsibility for this lies on all of us. We demand that the choice of the electorate, once made, be respected by all.
The Bishops demanded that the Federal Government secure the unconditional release of Leah Sharibu, one of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in February this year. She is still being held captive because she refused to denounce her Christian faith. They further demand that the Federal Government ensure the safe release of the remaining Chibok girls and all other persons in captivity against their will.