. . . Enugu Catholic Diocese Demands Justice for Slain Priest
. . . As Bishop Ezeokafor Condemns Killing
By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba, Abuchi Onwumelu
Following the alarming rate of insecurity and the incessant killings of innocent Nigerians in Enugu State and other parts of Nigeria by suspected Fulani herdsmen, especially the murder of Rev Fr Paul Offu, August 1, the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, has called on the Enugu State Government and the Nigerian Government to halt the trend and flush out what the diocese described as bad Fulanis from Enugu State. Ifeoma Ezenyilimba, Abuchi Onwumelu, report.
This is even as the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Anambra State, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, has called for the apprehension of the killers of the Catholic priest.
The Catholic Diocese of Enugu, had through an official statement signed and released by the Bishop, Most Rev Calistus Onaga, on August 4, 2019, condemned in strong terms, the murder of one of her priests, Rev Fr Offu, and many other notorious acts by the suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Rev Fr Offu, who was shot dead on the evening of August 1, 2019, by hoodlums suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, along Ihe-Agbudu Road, Awgu L.G.A, Enugu State, was until his death, the parish priest of St James' the Greater Parish, Ugbawka, Enugu Catholic Diocese.
The Enugu Catholic Diocese that made her official position known, after a special Eucharistic Celebration for Peace and Security in Enugu State and Nigeria, at the Holy Family Arena, Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu, on August 4, observed that the citizenry had been living in fear following the total break down of law and order.
The diocese therefore demanded that Government should effectively equip the vigilante groups to provide protection and security for their various localities, and also deploy surveillance devices so as to combat security threats.
The Catholic Diocese that condemned the rate of kidnapping and raping of the women, among other inhuman acts by Fulani herdsmen, insisted that the government should formulate policies and enact laws that would checkmate what it called atrocities being meted out on harmless citizens.
Fides gathered that the message from the diocese titled, ''Enough Is Enough: A Message from the Catholic Diocese of Enugu'', read in full as follows:
'Following the increasing rate of insecurity in the form of killings, kidnappings, rape, destruction of farmlands and property, and various forms of intimidation in the country, the Catholic Diocese of Enugu sees herself compelled to make the following public pronouncements:
1. We seem to be living in a state of anarchy, total breakdown of law and order.
2. In recent times, an alarming number of our people-including Priests and government officials-have been killed by these murderers.
3. The rate of kidnappings has continued to increase, both in the villages and in the cities.
4. The demand of outrageous ransom and the inability of the victims to pay, have led to outright killings.
5. Our people are now afraid to embark on their normal farming activities.
6. It is no longer safe for our people to move freely on the roads or visit their homes in the villages.
7. For fear of being raped, our women can no longer carry out their regular activities in the villages, particular their farming and other businesses.
8. The burning of houses has been perpetrated within our own territory.
9. All these catastrophic evils have hampered peaceful coexistence and development in our state.
Against this background, we demand that:
1. Government should as a matter of urgency, flush out bad Fulanis from our state.
2. Government should effectively equip the vigilante groups to provide protection and security for their various localities.
3. In this era of technology, the deployment of surveillance devices has become very necessary in our effort to combat these security threats.
4. Community leaders should desist from actions that would be inimical to the security of their people and any betrayal must be seriously sanctioned.
5. In this regard, security agents should not betray the information entrusted to them for the security of the people.
6. It is important for traditional leaders, town unions and various youth organizations to work together and speak with one voice in order for the security measures they put in place to be effective and successful.
7. Our people must know that they are part of actions to provide security and should say something when they see something. In this regard, security agents should not betray the information entrusted to them for the security of the people.
8. The government should formulate policies and enact laws that would checkmate these atrocities that are being meted out on our people.
9. The government should provide counseling and other services to victims of these bad Fulani people.
10. Finally, we wish to remind our people that unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it.
11. We must continue to ask the Lord to be with us in this sad moment of our lives. Every family in the Diocese should pray one Mystery of the Rosary every day for the security of our Diocese.