Catholic bishops have urged the federal government to stop treating with levity the challenge of killer herdsmen and other criminal acts, noting that such a governmental attitude developed panic and fear among Nigerians.
They said it was sad that the government has not even shown a clear pattern to secure the lives of the people and through which those perpetrating the acts can be apprehended and punished.
The Catholic Bishops also appealed to the Federal Government to halt the attempt to license and impose tax on places of worship in the country, disclosing that they suspect the government as having a hidden agenda regarding the proposed action.
The clergymen said these in a communique issued and read by the Metropolitan Bishop of Ibadan and the President of the Nigeria Catholic Conference, Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, Gabriel Abegunrin, after their meeting held at the Pope John Paul II Pastoral Centre in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital on Tuesday.
The Catholic Bishops called on the governments of West African sub-region to invest more in youth development to reduce crimes like illegal migration, prostitution, kidnapping and other social menaces.
“When this insecurity started, it was one corner of the country, but now it has gone round the geopolitical zones, what is government doing. If there is no security, there is no reason for government to exist .
“It is unfortunate that Nigerians wake up each day to lament woeful news of killings, lynching, kidnappings and brigandage in the country. Many people including priests have fallen victims to this tragically insecure environment.
“The lack of clear pattern of punishing crimes and lip service commitment to the protection of lives and property on the part of the federal government and security agencies have made many Nigerians living in fear day to day.
“There seems to be no end in sight especially with allegations of killings by Fulani herdsmen being left unattended to.Time is running out for Nigeria if the security is not improved. We call on governments, traditional and other civil authorities to please save our country,” they pleaded.
On the reported crimes of abduction of oneself, and jailing of priests for rape, the Bishops said these were manifestations of the total rot in the Nigerian society and loss of family values, stressing that all the citizens must share in the blame.
“It is sad that we are losing our core family values. We must take care of our children and imbibe the culture of being our brother’s keepers like we had before, because what is happening today has to do with our backgrounds.
“We know the economic situation calls for us to overwork ourselves, but parents must look for time to take care of their children. This is the only way we can rid our society of evils and have a brighter future”, they said.
The Bishops caution the federal government against taking measures that could tinker with press freedom, stating that under no circumstances should the media be gagged.
The Bishops, however, commended governments on their improved commitment to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions.
On the Federal Government’s directive through the Ministry of Interior to license places of worships for celebration of marriages and issuing of marriage certificates, the Bishops said such a proposal needed to be approached with caution and should be given a second thought, especially as concerns imposition of annual levies on these institutions.
“Contemporary circumstances in Nigeria demand that government must approach religious matters with utmost caution do as not to he considered partisan and partial on national issues”.
“Only brave pressmen can now boldly come out and speak to me. But all must work hard and remove anything that works against press liberty. Government must give the press the liberty to talk the truth to authority,” they said.