“Human life seems to have lost value”: Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, Nigeria

President of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, Archbishop Gabriel Abegunrin
Credit: Public Domain

Against the backdrop of multiple cases of kidnappings and killings including that of 18-year-old seminarian Michael Nnadi, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria’s Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province (IEP) have expressed their concerns about the safety of citizens in what they have termed a “worsening situation of security of life and property” that seems to demonstrate little or no regard for human life.

“We lament that Nigerians are being slaughtered daily by terrorists, criminals and so-called herdsmen on the roads, in their farms and even in their homes,” the Local Ordinaries of dioceses under IEP have stated in their collective message at the end of their two-day meeting that concluded Tuesday, February 4.

“Human life seems to have lost value in Nigeria,” the Bishops have added in their communique obtained by ACI Africa following their meeting that took place at Jubilee Conference Centre Oke Ado in Ibadan, Southwestern Nigeria.

They expressed their awareness of the state of their compatriots in the face of insecurity saying, “Only few Nigerians in any part of the country can sleep with two eyes closed.”

Recalling their collective message this time last year, the Shepherds of the people of God in Ibadan Archdiocese and the dioceses of Ekiti, Ilorin, Ondo, Osogbo, and Oyo have, in their collective statement, lamented the negative turn of events.

 “At the beginning of last year, we cried out like all Nigerians did against the woeful security situation at that time. We issued a message of hope calling on all Nigerians to work together with the government and security agencies to secure the life and property of all without discrimination,” the Bishops have recalled.

They have added, “Today, a year later, things have become much worse. Nigeria is in security dire straits.”

“With the security architecture in Nigeria seemingly on auto-pilot, the country is clearly drifting and needs decisive action to restore professionalism and effectiveness,” the Prelates have bemoaned in their collective nine-point communique signed by IEP President, Archbishop Gabriel Abegunrin and Secretary, Bishop John Oyejola.

They have made a wake up call to security agents in their country saying, “As Bishops, we strongly believe in prayer and in the power of God to save, but we must challenge all those in position of authority that they simply must wake up and do more than pay mere lip service to the issue of security in our country, Nigeria.”

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has borne the wrath of Boko Haram insurgents since 2003 when they attacked police stations in Yobe State that borders Niger. Since then, the security crisis has roped in other organized criminal gangs that have been orchestrating killings and kidnappings of Christians, including priests and seminarians.

The January 20 execution of Rev. Lawan Andimi who was the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area in Adamawa State and the killing of seminarian Michael Nnadi represent “a new peak in Nigeria’s sad situation,” the Bishops have said.

In the communique, the Prelates have also commended the formation of the controversial (SWSN) or Amotekun by the Governors of the Southwestern Region saying, “With this initiative, they (Governors of the Southwestern Region) have responded to their duty as Chief Security Officers of their States to secure lives and property of all in the Southwestern Region of Nigeria.”

The six Prelates however cautioned that “the security of lives is not exclusive to any organization” and urged the Federal Government “to support and regulate Amotekun and other such organs in Nigeria as necessary complements to the efforts of the police and other security agencies.”

According to the Bishops, “The Amotekun outfit is a metaphor for the utmost need for leaders to cater for the welfare of all those who are placed under their care, irrespective of tribe or religion. If well-regulated and groomed, it will surely bring the much-needed improvement to peace and public order in the Southwest of Nigeria.”

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Father Don Bosco Onyalla
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