The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria have decried the lukewarm attitude continuously displayed by the government in responding to violence across the country.
The Bishops, who wondered why innocent and unarmed Nigerians are continually killed at will because of religious and political differences, appealed for rapid punitive response from the government for perpetrators of such heinous crimes against humanity.
According to a Communiqué issued at the end of the Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) held in Sokoto, they inferred that killing in Nigeria is done with impunity.
The communiqué, as jointly signed by both the president and secretary of CBCN, Most Rev Augustine Akubeze and Most Rev Camillus Umoh, respectively, urged Christians not to be afraid or discouraged.
The communique read in part, “We have, in our past communiqués and other statements, condemned the spate of violence and high level of insecurity in our land. Yet, to our greatest dismay, these have continued unabated. We observe with deep sadness how unarmed Nigerians are brutally slaughtered, owing to religious and political differences, boundary disputes, and other such reasons.
“We equally observe 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. We totally condemn these killings and call on government to defend the life and property of every Nigerian citizen.
“Furthermore, we strongly appeal that the thousands of our internally displaced compatriots be helped to return to their homes and their land restored to them as quickly as possible.”
The Catholic Bishops, who warned that religion is a matter of choice and must not be forced on anybody, added that, its freedom should therefore be adequately guaranteed in any part of the country to allow for peaceful co-existence.
“Although political parties are the platforms through which people seek political offices, political office holders ought to know that they are to provide services for the entire citizenry, irrespective of political, religious or ethnic affiliations. They equally have an inescapable duty of providing good governance.
“In keeping with the provisions of our constitution regarding freedom of religion, we continue to urge governments at all levels to respect the rights of citizens and groups to practise their religions unhindered. In this spirit, governments should make it possible for religious groups to acquire land for the building of places of worship, schools, hospitals and social welfare facilities whenever the need arises.
“At the same time, we enjoin everyone to avoid acts of religious fanaticism in order to promote peaceful co-existence and harmony. Religion is a matter of conviction, not coercion.”
Showing their concern ahead of 2019 General Elections, CBCN urged the electorates never to hesitate in using their voter’s card to guarantee good governance.
“As we look forward to the elections of 2019, we refuse to give up on our hope for a great, prosperous and peaceful nation. For our dreams to be achieved, we must embrace a new way of governing ourselves.
There is need for genuine repentance and sincere moral transformation. We encourage all registered voters to ensure that they are equipped with their voter’s card, reject and denounce the illegal practices of selling and buying of votes.
“Despite the deception and defections, Nigerian voters must be wise enough to show some of our politicians, who may have so much to hide, that “they can run, but cannot hide.”
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