By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Council of Bishops of the Methodist Church Nigeria has called on the federal government to direct its security agencies to arrest the ring leaders of the coalition of Arewa youths that issued quit notice to Igbos residing in the northern states.
The bishops made the call at the end of the 35th Council of Bishops held at the Methodist Theological Institute, Mission Hill Umuahia during which the Council â€œprayerfully deliberated upon many ecclesiastical, national and international issues.â€ In calling for the arrest of bellicose Arewa youths, the bishops noted that the hate speech spewed by the “misguided youths”, who got the backing of their elders, should be treated as treasonable offence which should not go unpunished.
â€œThe Council condemns in strong terms the threat by Northern youths that Igbos in the North should leave the North or face annihilation. This is a hate speech and a threat that should be seen as treason and punishable under the law of the land,â€ the Council said.
In a 17-point communique signed by the Prelate, His Eminence, Samuel Kanu Uche and secretary of conference, Rt Rev Michael Akinwale, who read the document to journalists, the bishops also denounced the herdsmen insurgency, saying that it had been allowed to go unchecked for too long.
According to the Council, it had become clear that the marauding herdsmen that kill and ravage communities were â€œdifferent from the Nigeria herdsmen we had knownâ€ hence the need to unmask them to determine their real identity.
â€œTheir (herdsmen) mode of operation is similar to that of Boko Haram and we suspect that they have strong connection with ISIS,â€ the Council said, adding that â€œit is important to investigate into who they are, who their sponsors are.â€
The 35th Council, which had 78 bishops in attendance noted that the security agencies appear to have been treating â€œthese agentsÂ of the devil with kid gloves as none of them have been arrested and dealt with.â€
To lend credence to the assertion that security agencies had not been handling the issue of herdsmen with the seriousness it deserved, the Prelate pointed out that no herdsmen has been arrested and charged to court over the Agatu killings and other murderous expeditions of herdsmen in Benue state.
The Prelate, Rt Rev Uche, who expatiated on the security threats posed by herdsmen and Arewa youths said that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, in particular has not lived up to expectation in dealing decisively with the herdsmen.
He said that it was apparent that the herdsmen menace was part of the planned Islamisation of Nigeria, which he vowed would never be allowed to succeed.
â€œAny attempt to Islamise Nigeria there will be no Nigeria because we will resist it left, right and centre,â€ he said.
The apex leaders of the Methodist Church Nigeria regretted that the rising spate of separatist tendencies in Nigeria today, saying that the failure of the federal government to implement its policy of reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation was the cause of the widening cracks.
The Council therefore urged the National Assembly â€œto revisit the bill on South East Development Commission as a way of making the zone feel that it belongs to Nigeria.â€
On the anti-corruption war the bishops advised the federal government should make public the total amount of money so far recovered from looters and utilise it to improve the lives of Nigerians, adding that recovered funds â€œshould be used in creating jobs for two million school leavers.â€
The Council warned both the federal and state governments to halt any move to borrow money for any reason but should instead â€œensure the judicious application of the recovered looted funds and avoid every form of waste.â€