By Praise Necherem
The Anglican Bishop of Awka Diocese, Dr. Alex Ibezim has expressed worry over the emphasis being placed on the next year’s general elections by political parties against the prevalent cases of insecurity in the country. He frowned at the way the President Muhammadu Buhari–led Federal Government is handling the menace of herdsmen across the nation.
Delivering his Presidential Charge at the 2ndSession of the 11th Synod of the Diocese with the theme, ‘Mission, the heart of God,” at St. Peters Church Amawbia, the bishop urged politicians not to pursue it “with senseless desperado and indiscretion.”
He also urged Buhari to stop treating the killers with levity, noting that a group that had killed thousands of Nigerians should not be treated as kinsmen.
The bishop who wondered what Buhari’s silence on the issue could mean, stressed that “Nigerians are tired of speeches and condolence messages to victims. “If this country will continue to remain as one, then those who perpetrate crime must be dealt with accordingly without minding whose ox is gored,” he noted.
He noted that the return of democracy in 1999 that ought to be a kind of political liberation had been allowed to divide Nigerians into religious and ethnic cleavages.
His words, “Nigeria, a major oil producer and Africa’s most populous nation and second-largest economy, is facing challenges. Most political parties are much more concerned about upcoming elections rather than the burning issues of the country.
“Political liberalisation ushered in by the return to civilian rule in 1999 has allowed militants from religious and ethnic groups to pursue their demands through violence. Separatist aspirations have also been growing, prompting reminders of the bitter civil war over the breakaway Biafran republic in the late 1960s.
The cleric regretted that while the nation was still reeling from the Boko Haram insurgency and its numerous atrocities, another terrorist group, which he referred to as Fulani herdsmen, sprouted.
According to him, between 2014 and 2018, herdsmen had killed over 1,229 people across the country with Benue, Taraba, Nassarawa, Plateau, Kaduna and Katsina as the worst hit states. “The group has done enough havoc to be acknowledged by the global community as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world. They are armed with sophisticated weapons and usually attack their target communities at a time they are most vulnerable such as at midnight or on Sundays when they are in church, killing people indiscriminately and burning houses and looting properties.
“Most worrisome is the brutality and impunity with which the assailants operate without regard for the law and the sanctity of human life. The Nigerian police and even the military seem powerless to defend the victims from being mercilessly slaughtered in their homes.
“It is unfortunate that this level of criminal impunity is happening in a sovereign nation with a constitution which declares that the security and welfare of the citizens shall be a major responsibility of the state. Perhaps we need to ask why the police and the military are incapable of protecting the farmers from violent attacks by Fulani herdsmen. Is it true that the Fulani militias are better armed and sometimes outnumber the police?
“Why is it difficult for the Federal Government to contain the terror of the Fulani militia? Who are those arming the Fulani herdsmen to unleash mayhem on innocent and defenceless Nigerians?” Ibezim queried.
On the anti corruption fight, the bishop alleged that the government was harbouring the actors in corruption field instead of fighting it to a halt He said, “It does seem the fight against corruption for which this administration was voted into power has slowed down, if not jettisoned. People had expected prompt prosecution and incarceration of offenders, to deter others, but what we witnessed was a situation where some key officials of this administration were involved in unwholesome acts, capable of tarnishing the image of government.