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May 26, 2018

The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubeze has described the killing of God’s children in God’s house when praying to God as one of the most sacrilegious acts any human being can commit.  The Archbishop made this remark in his address at the burial ceremony of Rev. Frs. Joseph Gor, Felix Tyolaha and 17 other lay faithful killed by Fulani herdsmen on April 24, during the celebration of morning Mass at St Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor Mbalom in Gwer Local Government Area of Benue State.
The local ordinary of Benin City Archdiocese further declared: “It is not enough to condemn the killing; the Government must also ensure the prompt arrest of all those involved and prosecute them”; adding: the failure of the security agencies must be examined critically.
Archbishop Akubeze who commiserated with faithful of Makurdi Diocese for the loss of the two priests and the 17 other lay faithful, expressed hope that “their death has not been in vain because, Christ whom they served so well here on earth will reward them with eternal life in heaven”. He also expressed optimism that as the blood of martyrs has always watered the seed of faith; “The blood of our slain brethren who left this world imitating their Lord and Master, through the giving up of their lives will make the faith grow in the land”.
The CBCN President called on the Federal Government to stop the killing of many innocent children and women, adding that the protection of lives and properties of all Nigerians is an obligatory responsibility of the government, irrespective of the differences of the people. He contended that while the people continue to call on God to help deliver Nigeria from the present predicament, they will not allow the evil ones “to dominate us” nor “resort to using their own tactics of spreading hatred”.
In his own address, Vice President Yemi Oshinbajo, who led a delegation of ministers and other top Federal Government officials to the ceremony, while expressing grief at the dastardly acts of the Fulani killers stated that: “the killers only killed the flesh but could never touch the spirit that belongs to God. Pointing out that the killers have gained nothing by causing the families, friends and the entire nation grief, Professor Oshinbajo stated Government can provide succor and comfort for the bereaved by ensuring justice for them, arresting and punishing assailants and rebuild the many places that have been damaged and heal the wounds that have been caused.
In his funeral oratory, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State gave the genesis of the herdsmen/farmers crisis in the state; pointing out that: “this is the third mass burial we have the misfortune to organize in the last five months”. He added that the herdsmen have killed over 492 innocent and unarmed citizens since the beginning of the year. He however expressed the determination of his administration to stand for truth and justice.
He remarked: “On this difficult day, in this difficult time for Benue and for Nigeria, it is important to ask our country, what kind of nation are we? …. We know our killers, but they are neither questioned nor arrested.” The Governor noted that the Government’s Ranching Law which prohibits open grazing is an instrument of development.
Governor Ortom however expressed optimism that the present moments of trials in the state will become something of the past, with herders and farmers living in peace; and “A future where there will be freedom of worship and no ethnic or racial discrimination.”

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