Enugu Bishop Demands ‘Concrete Action against Herdsmen’

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By Christopher Isiguzo in  Enugu
 

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah has strongly condemned the massacre of scores of people at Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State by Fulani herdsmen on Monday.

Bishop Onah, who addressed newsmen at the St. Theresa’s Catholic Cathedral in Nsukka, Friday, said that the diocese was worried over the senseless killing of “innocent, unarmed and defenceless citizen of Nimbo.”

He said that the Nimbo massacre was analogous to the scenes of the 1966 civil war where people were forced to flee their homes in search of solace and peace, adding that the current crisis was different particularly as people were not only chased away from their homes, but also from their farms, churches, schools and village markets.

The Bishop further said: “The most painful aspect of the Nimbo massacre is that it was announced, expected and executed without inhibition – in broad daylight. The state government is reported to have made attempts to provide security in the area prior to the incident.

“But what those who lost their dear ones and all of us want to know is why, as the reports go, the security forces ‘tactically’ withdrew shortly before the attack and why when they later returned to the scene, there was no attempt to immediately pursue and arrest the perpetrators.

“At present, nobody can say with certainty the number of those killed, given that more of those who were badly wounded are still dying and some bodies are still being recovered from the bush where the people had been killed while taking refuge.”

He said that it was disturbing to note that only Christian religious houses were attacked.

Bishop Onah reiterated that Nsukka people were peace-loving people and called on them to remain law abiding without resorting to any unlawful protestations.

He, however, said that unnerving questions arising from the tragedy needed to be addressed.

In that light, the bishop posed some questions: “How are we supposed to react to these threats to our very survival as a people when the federal government, who controls the security agencies, seems unwilling to protect us and the state government appears incapable of defending us, since it has no control over these agencies?

“Our young people are asking us why the police and the armed forces of the federal government are so swift and sometimes so high-handed in their reaction when unarmed persons march the streets in protest in the South East and so heavy-footed when it comes to stopping the massacre of the south easterners anywhere in the country, even in their homes.”

While the Diocese appreciates the stance of President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue, only concrete actions can lead to the return of normalcy in the community, the bishop said.

He also urged the federal government to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the massacre and disarm all those who carry assault rifles publicly.

He equally thanked Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Senator Chuka Utazi for their concerted efforts so far, saying that the state must use all the tools at its disposal to avert the recurrence of such tragedy.

As much as the diocese thanks the Inspector General of Police Solomon Arase for visiting the community, the bishop said it should bother the IG that some herdsmen possess better arms than policemen.

The Bishop announced that masses and prayers would be offered for the victims throughout the Diocese next Sunday.