Against the backdrop of incessant killings by herdsmen, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has warned that Nigerians might resort to self-defence if the Federal Government continued to fail in its responsibility of protecting the citizenry against attacks by Fulani herdsmen.
It noted that Nigeria appeared “to be under siege from many forces, while innocent citizens in different communities throughout the nation are being attacked and their sources of livelihood mindlessly destroyed.”
The position of the bishops was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by its President and Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama, and Secretary/Bishop of Gboko, William Avenya; which warned that “it is wiser and easier to prevent a war than to stop it after it has broken out”.
The religious leaders also advised the government to jettison the planned cattle colonies and come out with a better alternative.
They said, “If the government is incapable or unwilling to protect the lives of its citizens before marauding herdsmen, people might be tempted to resort to self-help in defence of their lives and property.
“While thanking God and the Federal Government for the successes so far recorded in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East, we are appalled by the repeated occurrence of other ugly incidents that are tearing communities apart.
“The recent mass slaughter of unarmed citizens by the armed herdsmen in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba states has caused national shock, grief and outcry.
“This will, no doubt, lead to a complete breakdown of law and order in the country. To forestall this, government should rise up to its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of her citizens and ensure that such mindless killings do not recur.”
The CBCN held that government with the array of intelligence officers at its disposal, should take measures to unmask the perpetrators of the dastardly acts and their sponsors, disarm them and bring them to book.
“We believe that if there is some degree of political will, our public authorities can take adequate steps to put an end to these human tragedies and save the country from the calamity of a civil war.
“It is wiser and easier to prevent a war than to stop it after it has broken out. We, therefore, urge all aggrieved parties to seek reconciliation through dialogue and mutual forgiveness. Above all, we passionately appeal to them to beat their swords into ploughshares”.