Christians should protect themselves from attacks, claim Catholic Bishops
Catholic Bishops in Nigeria, have expressed their sadness and anger at the killing of Fr Joseph Gor and Fr Felix Tyolaha, along with their parishioners ealy this week by what they describe as “a wicked and inhuman gang of the rampaging and murderous terrorists, who have turned the vast lands of the Middle belt and other parts of Nigeria into a massive graveyard.”
The Catholic Bishops, under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), in a statement issued on Friday 27 April, said the government cannot begin to disarm villagers who are trying to protect themselves when it is clear that the security agencies cannot protect them for many obvious reasons including complacency, lack of personel and collaboration with the Fulani cattle herders.
The Bishops accused federal government and security agencies of turning a blind eye to the attacks.
“Along with millions of Nigerians, we have expressed our lack of confidence in the security agencies, which the President has deliberately placed in the hands of the adherents of only one religion,” the Bishops declared.
“As leaders, we have consistently asked our people to remain peaceful and law-abiding, even in the face of the worst form of provocation. Today, we Christians feel violated and betrayed in a nation that we have all continued to sacrifice and pray for. We collectively feel abandoned and betrayed.”
“We are at a loss as to what excuse again we can continue to give about why things are the way they are in our nation… If the President cannot keep our country safe, then he automatically loses the trust of the citizens. He should no longer continue to preside over the killing fields and mass graveyard that our country has become,” they declared.
Whether this failure is due to inability to perform or lack of political will, it is time for him to choose the part of honour and consider stepping aside to save the nation from total collapse.”
The Bishops called on Christians to “hold their heads high and stand for their fundamental right to life and security… to secure themselves and their environments. This is not the time to disarm people with legally procured weapons of self-defense. These are not normal times since those we pay to protect us have failed to do their duty.”
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, of Jos said after the Bishops’ met in Rome with the Pope, that Francis “was close to them and that he felt the pain caused by the event.”
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.