The Bishops of the Catholic Church in Nigeria have identified the increase in ethnic inclination as a great threat to the unity of the country and peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians. According to them, the recent increase in ethnic affiliation resulting in the emergence of several ethnic milita groups constitute a threat to the sovereignty of the Nigerian nation and her cherished unity.
They therefore called on the Federal Government to be more proactive in arresting the situation to salvage the country from imminent dangers and further loss of lives of innocent and law abiding citizens.
The Bishops observation was contained in a statement issued at the end of their first Plenary for the Year 2017, held recently at the Daughters of Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre (DRACC), Lugbe, Abuja. The statement titled: Our Dignity, our Nation and Our Citizenship was signed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos and William Avenya of Gboko, President and Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, respectively.
The bishop declared: “Since the end of Nigeria’s tragic civil war, at no other time in the history of our dear country has the issue of our common citizenship been subjected to more strain. We have witnessed the ubiquity and the rising profiles of ethnic militias and their increasing destructive violence against our commonwealth. We have witnessed a rise in the politics of identity with our people retreating to the womb of ethnicity.”
They added: “Thus, rather than breathe the free air of democracy since the end of military rule, our lungs are choking amidst the fumes of violence. Insecurity has turned our country into a theatre war. Faced with landlessness, homelessness and sickness, the majority of our people do not feel that they are full citizens of our dear country.
Commenting on citizenship and state sovereignty and the diminishing sanctity of human life; the bishops expressed deep concern about the fundamental human rights challenges some citizens of the country are facing in some parts of the country, despite the clarity of the Nigerian Constitution in this perspective; and called on both the Federal and state governments to respect and enforce the relevant provisions of the Constitution in order to give all her citizens a shared sense of belonging. They expressed disdain for the outright disrespect for the sanctity of life occasioned by the atrocities of the Boko Haram Islamic insurgents and other similar groups engaged in nefarious activities in different parts of the country whose activities have resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and wanton destruction of properties.
They said: “We have found the outright disdain for the sanctity of human life totally at variance with both our cultural traditional norms and our religious sensibilities. Life has never looked so cheap. Exposed to violence almost on a daily basis, more and more of our young children are losing their innocence as they watch their parents being randomly slaughtered and their properties vandalized.’
The Bishop continued: “This violence came to a head with the eruption of Boko Haram. We also note, in particular, the Killing of hundreds of Shiites in Zaria in December 2015; the killings in Southern Kaduna and the encounters involving herders and farmers across the Nigerian Savannah, which has led to thousands of killings. We pray for the safe repose of the souls of the dead and for God to comfort the bereaved and heal the wounded. They however commended the Government for the successes achieved in bringing the Boko Haram activities to submissive control.”