In their appraisal of the security situation in the country, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has concluded that nothing serious has happened to give a sense of safety in the North.
They said the incessant killings of innocent citizens by the Boko Haram sect and the seeming helplessness of the security agents to arrest and disarm terrorists had made self-defence within the ambit law imperative for Christians, who are the main targets of the group.
The CBCN President and Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama and the Secretary, Most Rev. Alfred Martins, the Archbishop-elect of Lagos, who signed the statement, expressed concerns that despite concerted efforts by the Federal Government and security agencies to stem the tide of the violence, the situation had grown from “bad to worse, as terrorists strike almost at will against innocent citizens across the northern parts of Nigeria.”
The conference maintained that the primary duty of government is to ensure security of lives and property of citizens all over the nation, and therefore does not have excuse for failure. Kaigama condemned the recurrent attacks on Christians and their places of worship and described the terror strikes as cowardly acts that should be deplored by all people of goodwill. He said the so called reprisal attacks were a matter of great pain to the conference as violent and lethal attacks were committed against innocent people.
The cleric said: “These are sad days for Nigeria and for all Nigerians. We feel greatly pained by the violent events, which have become almost daily occurrences. Time is rolling on and the situation of insecurity in the land has not improved in any significant way. On the contrary, it seems to be going from bad to worse.”
The bishops charged the government to do all that was needed to make the nation safe for all citizens by refining and intensifying its security actions.
Kaigama said: “We continue to challenge government to do all that is necessary. There is need to change gear. We have just heard of changes in the top level of our security personnel. We are still to see whether this will bring the marked improvement that is urgently needed.”
The CBCN noted that more work needs to be done in “intelligence gathering, analysing, interpreting and security equipment procurement,” insisting that the terrorists must be “identified, engaged and disarmed.
The group said the persistent attacks on Christians in their places of worship whether by design or not put grave stress on the already fragile mutual relationship between the Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria.
“The sense of anger and hatred is growing by the day and has reached a dangerous level. We must all act now and decisively to arrest and defuse the tension.
“While we insist on our right to be protected by the state, we know that security is the concern of every citizen. We shall continue to mobilise and deploy our church security arrangements within the ambit of the law, and in collaboration with the state agencies.” The bishops appealed to the Muslim community in Nigeria to do all that is needed to reach out to those who “foment, plan, encourage and carry out these acts of violence in the name of Islam.
“We note with satisfaction that many of the recognised Muslim leaders have clearly condemned these violent and criminal actions. But it is not enough to issue verbal condemnation of terrorist activities. “There is need for concrete and pro-active actions to call to order those responsible and to make them desist from causing any further havoc on our nation in the name of religion.
“Religion does not encourage such inhumanity we are experiencing but rather should bind us to the Creator and to one another in love and human solidarity. “The tendency to blame or exonerate ourselves or religious groups instead of focusing on the solutions has not helped at all. All hands must genuinely be on deck,” Kiagama said.
In Plateau State, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Emmanuel Dipo Ayeni and the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Yiljap Abraham, on Monday met with stakeholders where they resolved to act fast to stop suicide bombing of worship centres and other targets.
In a statement they issued yesterday, which Ayeni and Yiljap signed, the forum evolved strategies to checking security challenges in the state.
“The meeting took cognisance of God’s faithfulness to the people of Plateau State. The situation in Plateau is just a tip of the iceberg to what is happening in other states of the federation.” The participants urged strong collaboration and co-operation among all the security agencies and the citizenry in taking pro-active moves against the problem of bombings on the Plateau.
The statement directed absolute vigilance by the residents in order to check bombers in the state while the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Jamatul Nasril Islam (JNI) were urged to form a forum to discuss common-issues and construct trust and peace among Christians and Muslims in the state.