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End Killings by Herdsmen, Probe Sexual Harassments Reports On IDPs Camps, Catholic Bishops Tell Nigerian Govts



The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has charged the Federal government to urgently curb the repeated killings of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen and bring perpetrators to book.


According to the bishops, if the government appear incapable of bringing an end to the massacres, Nigerians might resort to self-help in defence of their lives and property when threatened or attacked by herdsmen saying such development would not augur well for the existence of the country.


The charge was contained in a statement jointly signed by the Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama​​​​​ and the Bishop of Gboko, Most Rev. William Avenya, the President and ​​​​​​Secretary of CBCN respectively and released after the bishops' conference.


This charge was also contained in a statement  in a communiqué issued at the end of the first meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Province for 2018 held at the Jubilee Centre, Oke-Ado, Ibadan and jointly signed by the president, Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin and the secretary, Most Rev. John Oyejola.

They condemned the decision by the federal government to introduce grazing colonies across the country saying government should rather encourage cattle owners to establish ranches in line with international best practice.


It reads,  "Since the repeated outbreaks of bloody conflicts in different communities across the nation, we observe with great sadness that thousands of innocent people have been hacked down in cold blood. Others have been exposed to situations of unspeakable suffering.

 Many others have been crushed and silenced, while their rights and dignity are trampled with impunity.

We believe that, if there is some degree of political will, our public authorities can take adequate steps to put an end to these human tragedies and save the country from the calamities of a civil war.


"It is wiser and easier to prevent a war than to stop it after it has broken out. We, therefore, urge all aggrieved parties to seek reconciliation through dialogue and mutual forgiveness.

Above all, we passionately appeal to them to beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks (cf. Is 2:4).



"The recent mass slaughter of unarmed citizens by these armed herdsmen in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba States has caused national shock, grief and outcry. We commiserate with the families of the deceased, whilst we pray for the blissful repose of the dead and the quick recovery of the wounded.

At the same time, we totally condemn such brutal massacres of innocent people.

 Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy but this is never to be done at the expense of other peoples’ lives or livelihoods.



"It is, therefore, madness to slaughter fellow human beings and shameful that we had to show the world this ugly picture of our country.

If government is incapable or unwilling to protect the lives of her citizens before marauding herdsmen, people might be tempted to resort to self-help in defence of their lives and property when threatened or attacked.


This will, no doubt, lead to the complete breakdown of law and order in the country. To forestall this, government should urgently and seriously rise up to her primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of her citizens and ensure that such mindless killings should not reoccur.


"With the array of intelligence officers at her disposal, government should also expeditiously take measures to unmask the perpetrators of these dastardly acts and their sponsors, disarm them and bring them to book. Our perilous situation calls for more security consciousness. Accordingly, we exhort one and all to be more vigilant and report strange faces and movements timely to security agents.



"It would be stressing the obvious to state that a better alternative to open grazing should be sought rather than introducing “grazing colonies” in the country. Government should rather encourage cattle owners to establish ranches in line with international best practice."


The bishops also condemned incessant kidnapping in the county saying Nigerians now live in constant fear.


According to them, "given the effective security equipment available in the modern world of high technology and considering the huge security votes set aside every month at the state and federal levels, our communities should be better policed by security agents, who are better equipped and well trained to handle the security challenge of kidnapping that is bringing our nation to its knees.


On the reports of sexual harassments, abuses and diversion of relief materials meant for the internally displaced peoples in camps by officials of the camp, the clerics called for thorough investigation into the allegations and ensure culprits are unmasked and punished.


"One of the bitter fruits of bloody conflicts is the ugly phenomenon of internally displaced people and refugees. Thousands of people in our country have been displaced and have fled their homes to seek a more peaceful environment for themselves and their families.


"Similarly, due to the protracted political unrest in the Cameroons, many Cameroonians have also fled their country and have taken refuge in some communities in Taraba, Benue and Cross River States. To overcome their traumatic experiences, they need tolerance and a welcoming atmosphere in their camps as well as beddings, food, water, good sanitation and medical supplies. Children of the displaced and refugees also need access to good education.



"We, therefore, appeal to all men and women of goodwill to provide material help for the IDPs and refugees through the JDPC/Caritas in these States who will cater for their needs or through Caritas Nigeria. Government should also strengthen the National Commission for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons to cater for their needs.



"Reports have it that there are some abuses going on in some IDP and refugee camps. Some officials in those camps diverted materials meant for the IDPs and refugees. There are also reports of sexual harassments in some camps.

Government should as a matter of urgency conduct investigation into those allegations with a view to checking these abuses," the Bishops said.



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