Stop treating herdsmen as kinsmen, bishop tells Buhari

The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion has condemned the way the President Muhammadu Buhari–led Federal Government is handling the menace of herdsmen in the country

Rising from its 2018 synod at the St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Amawbia, the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Dr. Alex Ibezim in his charge wondered why the Fulani herdsmen were being handled with kid’s glove.

In the Bishop’s charge with the theme, ‘Mission, the heart of God,” the church urged Buhari to stop treating the killers with levity.

The synod noted that a group that had killed thousands of Nigerians should not be treated as kinsmen.

The church regretted 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.

The charge added, “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.

It added that Nigeria while still reeling from the Boko Haram insurgency and its numerous atrocities, another terrorist group, which he referred to as Fulani herdsmen, sprouted.

The church said, “The group has done enough havoc to be acknowledged by the global community as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world.

The church noted that 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 church added,” 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?”

The synod wondered what President Muhammadu Buhari silence on the issue could mean, stressing that “Nigerians are tired of speeches and condolence messages to victims.

They added, “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.”

On the 2019 general elections, the synod urged politicians not to pursue it “with senseless desperado and indiscretion.”

It described Buhari’s anti-corruption fight as lopsided and ineffectual.

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