In April this year two Catholic Priests were murdered along with 17 other Parishioners in Benue State. Since then some 300 people were reportedly killed in Plateau state in cold blood by unidentified Fulani herdsmen.
The Catholic Bishops Council of Nigeria told Mr. President ‘If you cannot keep our country safe then you automatically lost the trust of the citizens. He should no longer continue to preside over the killing fields and mass grave yard that our country has become.’
When Bishops who reside at various religious pulpits spit fire from their Churches about Mr. President’s inability to curb the killings then we are very likely closer to the last days than we previously thought.
It is increasingly becoming serious for Men of God to raise their voices in this manner against an elected civilian President of our country.
Their displeasure, according to their communiqué, stemmed from the fact that those perpetrators are of the same religion as that of Mr President who is also a Muslim and a Fulani.
The bishops, who are supposed to be soul winner for God and his Kingdom, are now worried that their members could be wiped out if necessary steps were not taken early enough to stem these horrendous killings in the Middle Belt in particular and other parts of Nigeria.
Catholic Bishops who previously had remained taciturn, apart from the few isolated utterances of Cardinal Anthony Okogie and the Sokoto state Bishop Mathew Kukah who had been known for speaking the truth to power over some of these killings, this is the first time a collective voice of Red cap wearing Bishops are making their voices during a courtesy visit on Mr. President Buhari at the Aso Villa recently.
As anointed men of God they had kept a safe distance from being dragged into politics but the frequency of killings had overwhelmed them so much so that they could no long keep silent in the face of the tyrannical march of killer squads across the country.
In a helpless situation where all they have is the Bible and the Cross as opposed to the killers, who are armed to the teeth with AK 47 rifles and other automatic weapons, they could only resort to massive prayers and invoke the power of the Holy Ghost to come and defend their people.
In this season of killings, it would be difficult to re-enact what Moses did for the Jews of Old; when he delivered them from King Phaoroah’s torture chambers in Egypt and using the power of God to deliver them from bondage by crossing the Red Sea with his God anointed Rod.
What else can the Catholic Bishops do in the absence of Moses in their midst? The days of miracles happening now are over; and for most Nigerians, resorting to endless prayers through prayer warriors seem to be the only routine.
The level of their intervention in the country can only blow over when the people themselves are ready to protect themselves through self- help and exacerbate the counter killings with increased insecurity in the land.
In a worst case scenario, Church buildings could be attacked at will and they might be faced with a more dangerous dimension on their hands.
An outbreak of a religious war in the country could lead us nowhere except a super power in the league of the US, China or Russia, got involved sending strong messages to our leaders who might suddenly wake up from their seeming slumber and act decisively to curb the senseless killings.
In any democracy where the elected minority leaders are wagging the tails of over 78 million Nigerians in the 36 states of the country while the Presidency controls all the coercive powers of the Military, Police and DSS, what can white cassock wearing Bishops achieve with Bibles and Cross of Jesus Christ hanging down their long robes? Absolutely nothing except hot air.
My feeling is that the Catholic Bishops are seen to be fulfilling all righteousness by speaking out so that God could absolve them from what Nigerians call a conspiracy of silence, aiding and abetting dictatorship in the guise of democracy.
Let a million Bishops from across the country and Africa speak against this trend, which most Nigerians had termed ethnic cleansing of presumed Christians in the country.
What a better imagery to end this piece except to quote Professor Wole Soyinka’s memorable line- “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.”
The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria had spoken and let other Nigerian stakeholders also express their views on these seemingly endless killings.
Let other religious and faith based groups join the band-wagon and call a spade a spade. Pentecostal groups must raise their voices and those who are traditional worshippers of idols of old should speak up. It is time for the President to ensure that he stops the Bloodshed.
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Author: William Bozimo