The Caritas Nigeria and Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Catholic Church has called on the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, put a stop to the reign of terror currently going on in the country.
In a press statement made available to our reporter in Calabar yesterday, and signed by the National Director Caritas Nigeria and JDPC, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, the body, which is an organ of relief and development of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, said the Church is “shocked that human life is gradually becoming a statistic of deaths whether it is the death of a Boko Haram terrorist or the death of an innocent farmer or community member hacked down by a herdsman or the death of a herdsman as a result of reprisal attacks or aggression.”
According to them, Nigeria is fast becoming a violent desert with cesspools of blood as oases scattered in the North East, North Central, South East, South South and South West, and pleaded, “in the name of our common humanity and in the name of the God we all serve, this must stop! Life is a precious gift of God and we must be careful to not raise a generation that gets used to devaluing human life and sees violent death as a regular feature of life.”
The statement posited that, “whatever the root causes of this violence could be, a more fundamental cause is the security architecture which is susceptible to defeat by groups and individuals who have now become shareholders of the instruments of violence, as the state has virtually lost its monopoly and weakened its capacity.
“Nigeria must stop playing politics with security of lives and property and adopt strategies that would facilitate the well being of all and not just a few powerful individuals or groups with capacity to capture the immunity to kill and immunity from arrest and prosecution whether as kidnappers, herdsmen, terrorists or militants”.
The Church further suggested that, “states that have accepted to establish multiple ranches or colonies should therefore accelerate the implementation so that nomadic herdsmen could have places where they would breed their herd” adding “we advise government to grant loans to private enterprises or to the various state governments who want to establish these multiple ranches and put measures in place where it is transparent to everyone that these monies would be recovered from the taxes and charges”.
The groups also called for devolution of more powers to the states to ensure that internal migrants who are welcome to local communities do not usurp local chieftaincies, even if they turn out to be in the majority and that the national Assembly could promote legislation that guarantees the chieftaincies of local populations against the usurpation of migrants but that political representation could be open to all.
While cautioning Nigerians to be conscious of the horrendous experiences of other nations and learn lessons from them, the statement said, “we are yet to recover from the Boko Haram terrorism which is still raging. Government must put aside all sentiments and deal with the herdsmen issue and …should establish a compensation fund for families of victims who die in these conflicts”.
Caritas Nigeria/JDPC appealed to INEC “to do something to overcome the suspicion that voter registration is deliberately made difficult for people in some parts of the country while it is facilitated and fast tracked even for under-aged in some other parts. While there will be unavoidable logistical issues, INEC must not give room to be seen as partisan”.