- Â Â Catholic Church to worshippers: Defend yourselves against aggressors
By Senator Iroegbu and Paul Obi in Abuja, Bayo Akinloye in Lagos, Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), yesterday called on the federal government to declare a state of emergency over the incessant killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen across the country.
The NLC position is coming on the heels of the killing of two Catholic priests and 17 members of the church in Benue State on Tuesday by assailants believed to be Fulani herdsmen.
NLCâ€™s call follows the declaration by the Director of Communication, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Reverend Father Chris Anyawu, that its congregations must defend themselves â€œconsidering the current dire situation, where herdsmen have continued to kill and ravage citizens.â€
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Waba, called for the declaration of state of emergency over the herdsmen killings while addressing newsmen during a public hearing on the national minimum wage for the North Central State which took place in Lokoja, Kogi State.Â
He said that the call became necessary in view of the obvious failure of the federal government to find a lasting solution to the spate of killings in parts of the country.
The NLC President said that the primary responsibility of any government as stipulated in the constitution was to preserve the of lives and property of its citizenry â€œand in a situation where government cannot do this as the case of the current herdsmen incessant killings, it is only natural that a state of emergency be declared where the issue would be given top priority attention.
“Honestly speaking, we are very concerned about the rate innocent people are being killed on daily basis and the obvious helplessness of the federal government to address the issue,” he said.
Earlier, the NLC President in a position paper on the proposed minimum wage said that governments at all levels did not have any choice than to accept the proposal, adding that there was no reason for not accepting to pay workers living wages to take them out of poverty.
Buhari, Military Colluding with Herdsmen to Kill Innocent Nigerians, Alleges CAN
Â Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday accused President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Military and powerful figures in government of colluding with Islamic extremists, terrorists and Fulani herdsmen to massacre Nigerians, â€œmostly of Christian faith.â€
The CAN General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake, made the allegations at a press briefing in Abuja tagged: â€œIslamist Insurgents: Pushing Nigeria off the Edge of the Precipice.â€
He said: â€œUnder President Buhari, the murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoyed unprecedented protection and favoritism to the extent that the herdsmen treat Nigeria as a conquered territory. Rather than arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen, security forces usually manned by Muslims from the North offer them protection.â€
The Christian body agreed with an earlier allegation by the former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) that the Nigerian military are aiding and abetting destruction of lives and properties by the killer herdsmen in various parts of the country.
CAN also accused Buhari of being â€œan ethnic and religious jingoist whose actions or inactions are propelling Fulani conquest as well as northern Muslim domination of the country.â€
It said that despite being constitutionally mandated to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians, Buhari had failed woefully in this responsibility by choosing to stay aloof to the alarming rate of bloodletting by killer herdsmen, Boko Haram terrorists and other criminal elements across the country.
CAN wondered what Buhari would gain as he watches the country descend into state of lawlessness, outright war and potential disintegration.
It alleged that the President’s quest to seek reelection â€œis to sustain the bloodbath by terrorists and ethno-religious conquest by his Fulani stock.â€
CAN said: “The sad angle to it is that the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari is not giving majority of Nigerians the impression of being deeply touched by the turn of events. He has been acting complacent and indeed unmoved by the reign of terror that his administration has permitted since the past three years of being the President. Most painfully, the President seems to depend on his media aides to make responses, which often times had no bite on widespread bloodletting across the federation, most especially in the Middle Belt part of the country.Â
“War seems to be looming in Nigeria while the aggressors are no other than misguided individuals who had been armed to provoke different communities into needless battles. Yet, President Buhari, who was popularly elected in 2015, has not seen the need and urgency to issue a presidential order on need to halt the killings, with sternÂ Â instruction to heads of security operatives to bring perpetrators to book. The Dark Age that has come with the administration of President Buhari in Nigeria is giving the Christians in this country a huge concern.
CAN stressed: â€œWithin a few weeks of Buhari’s election in 2015, he started creating the impression that he was in power to serve the interests of his Fulani ethnic group only. Discerning people were quick to note that contrary to his electoral promises, he actually meant to pursue core Islamist agenda. Almost every vital appointment in Security and Education went to Muslims from the North. He did not hide his disdain for the indigenous ethnic nationalities and, at every opportunity, showed preferential treatment to the Muslim North.â€
Catholic Church to Worshippers: Defend Yourselves
Also yesterday, the Director of Communication, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Reverend Father Chris Anyawu, insisted that its congregations must defend themselves considering â€œthe current dire situation, where herdsmen have continued to kill and ravage citizens.â€
Father Anyawu, who spoke exclusively to THISDAY, said worshippers had been asked to be vigilant to â€œdefend themselves from unjust aggressors since the government has failed in their responsibility to defend them.”
The CSN spokesman also elucidated on the earlier call by Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign, saying that the wanton killing of citizens in the Middle Belt and other parts of the country amid Buhari’s inaction, warranted the Bishops’ call.Â
Â Anyawu said: “The reason why CBCN is asking the President to resign is because the carnage has continued unabated and the perpetrators have not been made to face the law. Everything points to the fact that the President has lost ideas on how to handle the situation.
Â â€œIf the President fails to resign, citizens are asked to make the right decision with their votes in 2019 election.”
President, Security Agencies Acting a Script over Killings
Earlier on Thursday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) had in no unmistakable terms suggested to President Buhari to resign over his inability to rein in the killer herders unleashing terror in various states across the country, especially in Benue.
The Catholic group made the call in a statement issued by its President, Augustine Akubeze and Secretary, Camillus Umoh.
The CBCN said it was left with no choice but to conclude that security agencies and Buhari are acting a script approved by the President.
The Catholic clerics said: â€œSince the President who appointed the heads of the nationâ€™s security agencies has refused to call them to order, even in the face of the chaos and barbarity into which our country has been plunged, we are left with no choice but to conclude that they are acting a script that he approves. Repeated calls from usâ€¦on the President to take very drastic and urgent steps to reverse this ugly tragedy that threatens the foundation of our collective existence and unity as a nation, have fallen on deaf ears.
â€œWe are sad. We are angry. We feel totally exposed and most vulnerable. Faced with these dark clouds of fear and anxiety, our people are daily being told by some to defend themselves. But defend themselves with what? The federal government, whose primary responsibility it is to protect lives, for its part alleges that those who ask the people to defend themselves are inciting them to take the laws into their own hands.
â€œIt is clear to the nation that he (the president) has failed in his primary duty of protecting the lives of the Nigerian citizens. 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,â€ the priests told Buhari
According to the statement, one of the slain priests had raised the alarm about the possible attack by Fulani herdsmen.
â€œThat the two priests, Fr Joseph Gor and Fr Felix Tyolaha, along with their parishioners were waylaid in the course of the celebration of the holy Mass early in the morning, suggests very clearly that their murder was carefully planned. This wicked act cannot be said to be a revenge attack (as is often claimed), for whom have these priests attacked?
â€œIndeed, we have just discovered that on January 3 this year, Fr Gor tweeted: â€˜We are living in fear. The Fulanis are still around here in Mbalom (where they were killed.) They refused to go. They still go grazing around. No weapons to defend ourselves.â€™ Their desperate cries for security and help went unheeded by those who should have heard them,â€ the statement pointed out.
Fed up by the excuses of President Buhari, who had claimed, among other things, that the bloodthirsty marauders are on the loose because of the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime, the Catholic heads in Nigeria called on the Buhari administration to allow citizens in the country to take up arms and defend themselves.Â
DHQ: No Effective Security without Intelligence from Public
The Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday said there could be no effective security without intelligence from the public.Â Â
The DHQ was responding to allegations by the Catholic Bishops that Buhari and the military were turning a blind eye while herdsmen brutally kill citizens across the country.Â
Â Speaking to THISDAY yesterday, Director of Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim said: “From all indications the terrorists and criminals are wiser than all of us. While the continued to carry ghastly acts of killing innocent citizens, leaders continue to play a blame game and accusing ourselves especially the security agents.Â
“The military got their members killed while carrying out their assignments in these. So is it right to say the turned a blind eye to their death?Â
“The military can’t be everywhere, but citizens can collaborate with the security agencies by giving information. But what do we have? Each time we are deployed to secure the people, people play politics with people’s lives.
“There is nowhere in the world that effective security is guaranteed without intelligence from the public.Â
“The military is doing its best to end this killings; the general public should have confidence in the military and give us timely information so that together we defeat evil that have divided us and is destroying us gradually.”