By Luminous Jannamike
Catholic Bishops, on Tuesday, appealed to Nigerians to prevail on the new service chiefs to allow alternative and lawful initiatives established for protecting life and property such as Operation Amotekun to thrive in the country.
They also want the authorities to support and optimise such initiatives as complimentary security outfits for the benefit of the people.
The Bishops of the Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, which comprises; Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo Dioceses, made the appeal in a communique sent to journalists by the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja at the end of their meeting.
The communique, co-signed by Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin (President), and Most Rev. John Oyejola (Secretary), identified with the ongoing efforts of the governors of Southwest to regulate the activities of Fulani herdsmen within the region, noting that insincerity, selfish interests and lack of political will had in the past, caused avoidable security challenges and untold pain on people. It read: “We parade a Nigerian Army that has not been able to effectively check the atrocities of Boko Haram for over a decade.
“How does one deny the allegation that kidnapping and banditry are abetted by government when even State governments pay bandits and herdsmen as a means of placating them? How can we claim to have a Nigeria Police, when the body is no longer trusted to protect the same people it was set up to serve in many parts of the country?
“It is frustrating to see Governors, constitutionally empowered as the first security officers of their States, being impeded and rendered ineffective by mitigating actions and pronouncements allegedly made on behalf of the Federal government, when they take lawful steps to respond to security needs in their States.
“Such manner of governance, that exerts itself to protect the interest of a segment of the population at the expense of the security of life and property of the majority, makes the emergence of militias and self-appointed messiahs inevitable.
“We, therefore, join all well-meaning Nigerians who have called on the authorities to allow alternative and lawful initiatives which are established for protecting life and property like the South West Security Network (SWSN), codenamed Amotekun, to thrive.
“Such initiatives deserve to be supported and optimised as a complimentary security organization for the benefit of the people in different parts of Nigeria. “We identify with the ongoing efforts of the governors of some South Western States to regulate the activities of Fulani herdsmen within the zone and for the communique issued after their recent meeting with stakeholders.
“We note that insincerity, selfish interests and lack of political will had in the past, caused needless destruction of life and property and inflicted untold pain and hardship on innocent citizens.
“However, our Governors must shun deceptive adulations and empty promises on issues that impact the security of life and property.
“They must work with the security agencies to courageously implement the law in all cases and sanction those who blatantly and murderously flout it in their territories. No Nigerian or foreigner should be above the law in any part of the country. “We plead with the Federal and State governments to fulfil, the promises made in the wake of the protests and not to ignore the reasons why the protests occurred, as normally happens in Nigeria.