Following the continuous attacks and killings of residents of some communities in Benue State and the lack of protection from security agencies, prominent indigenes of the state have voiced out their condemnation of the killing spree.
In a statement wednesday by the former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, he condemned the massacre of two catholic priests and worshipers at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor-Mbalom, Gwer East Local Government Area of the state on Tuesday and urged the security operatives to rise up to the task of protecting lives and property.
He said the unabated killings of citizens without limit has called to question the manner of security operations in the state.
He described the killings of defenceless and innocent worshipers as callous, wicked and evil.
Mark reiterated that it has become more expedient for security operatives to protect the citizens so that they will not resort to self-help.
Also, the former governor of the state, Senator George Akume said the news of the killing was tragic to him.
He said the treacherous and inhuman action are unprecedented, unprovoked and highly condemnable in any civilised society.
However, he said the people would seek solace in the fact that they died in the Lord and shall live with the Lord.
He called on the federal government to urgently help bring a decisive end to the cycle of violence, destruction and killings in the state by ensuring that the perpetrators are apprehended and brought to justice.
Another past governor of the state Gabriel Suswam also condemned the attack even as he said it was a devastating blow of mayhem and death to the people of the state.
He said: â€œThe herdsmen came and without provocation, descended on their helpless victims in their usual maximally brutal and barbaric style and at the end of their bloody operation two priests, two catechists and no fewer than 14 lay worshippers reportedly lay dead, butchered in the most hideous manner imaginable.â€
Suswam said it was obvious to see that the state have arrived at the brink of a dangerous abyss wherein lie only anarchy, bloodshed and disaster.
He warned that no society can survive where human life is so undervalued and where some arrogate to themselves the right to take it from others at will.
Adding his voice to the condemnations, the National President of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests, Rev. Father Sylvester Onmoke, condemned in no unmistakable terms, the uprising in the Benue valley and wanton destruction of lives and property by alleged foreign mercenaries masquerading as Fulani herdsmen.
In a statement on behalf of all Catholic Priests of Nigeria and Bishops (who are in Rome for a meeting with the Pope), Fr. Onmoke bemoaned the killings of Reverend Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha and their parishioners during a morning mass on Tuesday.
He called on the churchâ€™s members across Nigeria to embark on a nine day Novena prayer starting from today for peace and justice in the country.
Ohanaeze, Others, Urge Nigerians to Defend Themselves against Killer Herdsmen
The Southern and Middle Belt Leadersâ€™ Forum has called on Nigerians to defend themselves against rampaging killer herdsmen who have continued to wreak havoc in several parts of the country.
The forum also demanded that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should publicly release the full report of its investigations into the underage voting scandal in Kano State.
Addressing journalists in Abuja wednesday on behalf of the forum, the President General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nwodo, said the continuous killings of innocent Nigerians especially in the Middle Belt region is unacceptable.
Other members of the forum are the Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, Afenifere Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bala Takaya.
Nwodo said it was more disturbing that there is increasing evidence that the military and police have compromised in the manner they have conducted themselves by aiding and abetting the herdsmen.
â€œIn the circumstance, we are left with no alternative than to call on Nigerians to employ self-defence as permissible in law when any citizen is faced with the risk of imminent death in the circumstances we find ourselves now,â€ he said.
Nwodo lamented that the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Y. Danjuma (rtd) has come under subtle harassments to his person and community over his call for Nigerians to defend themselves in the face of failure and unwillingness of the state to protect them.
â€œWe as a group, endorse the call made by Danjuma as the right call in the face of the mass killings going on in the country,â€ Nwodo reiterate, adding that the right to legitimate self-defence is a fundamental human right.
â€œIt is a well-established norm in municipal and international law, that any group of people that faces an existential threat to its very survival has right to legitimate self-defence. Section 33 of our 1999 Constitution accords the right to legitimate self-defence as a Constitutional right of all citizens,â€ he said.
Speaking on the voting scandal, Nwodo said it was urgent for INEC to retrieve the illegal Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) which fell into the hands of the under-aged.
â€œINEC under Attahiru Jega distributed PVCs to district heads and traditional rulers in some sections of the country while asking individuals to collect in other areas. In this regard, we demand the Report of INEC Investigation into the Kano underage voting scandal,â€ he said.
The forum accused the INEC of a plot to resurrect 30,000 polling units, which it alleged was going to be foisted on Nigeria during the tenure of Jega.
Nwodo recalled that shortly before 2015 general election, INEC had planned additional 30,000 polling units that would have created 5,291 new polling units in the North-east.
PDP Decries Killing of Benue Catholic Priests, Worshippers
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as sacrilegious and callous, the gruesome murder of two Catholic priests and worshippers at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor, Mbalom, in Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State.
In statement issued wednesday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said the attack on innocent and defenseless Nigerians while they were worshipping is extremely wicked and cannot be justified under any guise whatsoever.
â€œThe PDP is deeply worried over the unabated killings in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kogi, Zamfara, Plateau, Bornu, Adamawa and other parts of the country where bloodletting has become daily occurrence.
â€œMore worrisome is that the federal government has continued to allow these killings without any decisive steps to stem the ugly trend.
â€œPresident Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) federal government must live up to its basic responsibility of protection of lives and our national territorial integrity. Indeed, our citizens cannot continue to daily fall victims of attacks by marauders while the government fails to exert itself to guarantee their safety.
â€œWe therefore urge our security agencies to take immediate steps towards apprehending the perpetrators and masterminds of this dastardly act and to ensure the safety of Nigerians, particularly in the troubled states.
â€œFinally, the PDP commiserates with the Catholic Church, the government and people of Benue State as well as the families of the victims of these horrendous killings,â€ it said.
ACF Condemns Killings
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has condemned the killing on Tuesday of two Catholic priests and some worshipers in a church in Ayar-Mbalom community in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State by suspected herdsmen.
The forum also urged the federal government to fish out perpetrators of all the heineous crimes across the country and bring them to justice.
In a statement by its spokesman, Muhammad Ibrahim, wednesday in Kaduna, the ACF lamented the incessant killings that have continued to bedeviled the North, saying that government must identify the criminals and bring them to book to serve as deterrence to others.
The forum while expressing shocked over the gruesome murder of the catholic priests and the worshippers, said: â€œThe spate of attacks on innocent people including clergy men and worshippers in their places of worship is most callous and unfortunate.
â€œACF, therefore, calls on the security agencies to be more proactive and re-strategise their security operations in order to nip these avoidable blood letting in the budâ€.
Bishop Weeps over Killing of Catholic Priests, Worshippers
The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, wednesday wept visibly over the killing of two Catholic priest; Rev. Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, one catechist and 14 worshippers in Benue State.
Ezeokafor called for the immediate arrest of the perpetrators of the dastardly act, even as he wondered why such heinous crimes should be allowed to take place in the first instance.
â€œI am seriously pained. What manner of country is this? A country where some people are untouchables, a country where some people will be killing innocent citizens. Let me tell you, what we are witnessing today in this country is simply coordinated attacks against certain individuals and groups.
â€œThis senseless killings of the innocent Nigerians are becoming a daily occurrence. Why canâ€™t our government put a stop to these killings here and there? Is it not obvious that some people somewhere are carrying a particular agenda? There is more to this than meets the eyes,â€ Bishop Ezeokafor said.