The Catholic Church has continued to show serious signs that it has no confidence in the Federal Government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari.
On Wednesday, its bishops gave Abuja a thumb down, saying the government has not shown willingness to end the spate of killings by the Boko Haram insurgents and herdsmen in the country.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in a statement by its President, Augustine Akubeze, and Secretary, Camillus Umoh, says the failure of Abuja to arrest the criminals showed its insincerity and lack of commitment to protecting lives and property in the country.
The bishops issued the statement to mark the Ash Wednesday, which marked the beginning of the 40-day Lenten period.
They are, therefore, appealing to the international community to come to the aid of the Nigerian government in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency and Fulani terrorists, “who want to graze our country.”
They, however, warned that if the insurgents and the Fulani terrorists succeed, ‘’the consequences will be grave not only for the West African sub-region but also for Africa as a whole.’’
According to them, “the level of insecurity in Nigeria today is such that whether at home or on the road, most Nigerians, in all the parts of the country, live in fear.
‘’The repeated barbaric execution of Christians by the Boko Haram insurgents and the incessant cases of kidnapping for ransom linked to the same group and other terrorists have traumatized many citizens.
“That the perpetrators of these heinous crimes make public shows of them on social media and Nigerians, do not hear of any arrest or prosecution of the criminals raise grave questions about the ability and willingness of the government to protect the lives of the ordinary Nigerians.
‘’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.”
The bishops say Nigeria needs foreign assistance, adding, “we equally appeal to the international community to come to the aid of the Nigerian government in the fight against these daredevil terrorists, who want to graze our country.
‘’The consequences, should they succeed, will be grave not only for the West African sub-region but also for Africa as a whole.”
“As we begin the Holy Season, we, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, invite all Catholics in Nigeria as well as other Christians and persons of goodwill to unite in prayer and penance for peace and security in our country.
“This is not a time for compromises for the sake of personal convenience, but rather for heroism in Christian virtues. Remember the words of our Lord:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both the soul and body in Gehenna, (Matthew 10: 28).
“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 confident that the light of Christ, which shines in our hearts, will brighten the dark corners of our Nigerian society”, the Catholic bishops said.
In the meantime, the Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, is calling on the government to put an end to the incessant killing of Nigerians by insurgents, kidnappers, and bandits.
While leading a procession of the church faithful in Sokoto on Wednesday round the city to mark the Ash Wednesday, he said, “the situation in the country where one cannot sleep with one’s eyes closed is worrisome.
“Nigeria has bled enough and it is high time for those in authorities to rise up to their responsibilities. Many have become widows and orphans. Nigeria is going the way of Rwanda but we believe that with prayers, the problems confronting the nation can be surmounted.”
The essence of the procession, he said, was to mourn those that were massacre by insurgents, kidnappers, and bandits irrespective of religion and to also pray for the release of those in captivity.
The 2019 vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, joined the protest by the Catholic bishops in Abuja against killings.
In a statement by his media director, Valentine Obienyem, the PDP stalwart urges Catholics to let the mood reflect in their hearts as they supplicate to God during the Lenten season.