By: Joy Odor/Kaduna
The Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), yesterday faulted the conclusion of setting up Cattle Colonies by the Nigerian Federal Government was not the solution to ending the bloodbath between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in country.
In a statement signed by its President, Bishop Ignatus Kaigama of Catholic Diocese of Jos and made available to newsmen in Abuja reads: “The recent mass slaughter of unarmed citizens by these armed herdsmen in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba states has caused national shock, grief and outcry.
“It is, therefore, madness to slaughter fellow human beings and shameful that we had to show the world this ugly picture of our country.
“If government is incapable or unwilling to protect the lives of her citizens before marauding herdsmen, people might be tempted to resort to self-help in defence of their lives and property when threatened or attacked.
“It would be stressing the obvious to state that a better alternative to open grazing should be sought rather than introducing “grazing colonies” in the country. Government should rather encourage cattle owners to establish ranches in line with international best practice.
“Farmers and herdsmen have a lot to contribute to the socio-economic prosperity of our nation. A more enduring strategy must be worked out for their peaceful co-existence and mutual respect,” the bishops said.
“This will, no doubt, lead to the complete breakdown of law and order in the country. To forestall this, government should urgently and seriously rise up to her primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of her citizens and ensure that such mindless killings should not reoccur.
“With the array of intelligence officers at her disposal, government should also expeditiously take measures to unmask the perpetrators of these dastardly acts and their sponsors, disarm them and bring them to book. Our perilous situation calls for more security consciousness.
It urged the Federal Government to ensure an end to the many cases of kidnapping in parts of the country, while addressing the poor economic state of the country.
“It is very sad to note that the spate of kidnapping in our country has risen to unimaginable proportion. Day after day, citizens are taken captive, humiliated and traumatized by heavily armed gangsters.
“The victims of kidnapping and their families should no longer be left at the mercy of heartless and greedy kidnappers. There is an urgent need to deal decisively with kidnappers and drastically curb their excesses.
The CBCN warned security operatives and government that an urgent address of the security situation is necessary to avoid an impending war.
“We believe that, if there is some degree of political will, our public authorities can take adequate steps to put an end to these human tragedies and save the country from the calamities of a civil war.
“It is wiser and easier to prevent a war than to stop it after it has broken out. We, therefore, urge all aggrieved parties to seek reconciliation through dialogue and mutual forgiveness. Above all, we passionately appeal to them to beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks”.
“We commiserate with the families of the deceased, whilst we pray for the blissful repose of the dead and the quick recovery of the wounded. At the same time, we totally condemn such brutal massacres of innocent people. Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy but this is never to be done at the expense of other peoples’ lives or livelihoods” it ended.