While Nigeria bleeds and burns

Nigeria bleeds and burnsThe Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has declared a national all-night prayer vigil service on the night of the 13 th November in the Capital city of Abuja. The purpose of the all-night prayer vigil will be to pray for a nation, especially its people, suffering at the hands of Boko Haram Islamist militants. In a press statement made available to Vatican Radio, on 24 September, by the Catholic News Service of Nigeria, the Bishops say they are alarmed by the scale of destruction of human lives and property unleashed by Boko Haram. The Bishops are also extremely saddened by the disruption of village and community  life in Northeastern Nigeria.

A Press Statement by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) on the current state of Nigeria, given on September 18th 2014.

Our Second Annual Plenary meeting  in Warri Diocese, Delta State, has  been  daily strained  by  first-hand  and  horrifying  reports  reaching  us  from  Borno,  Yobe, Adamawa,  Taraba,  Kano  and  Kaduna  states  about  the  mass  slaughter  of  fellow Nigerians;  the burning and sacking of whole villages and churches  and rectories. Families and  individuals are  forced to seek  places of refuge outside their invaded homes and lands.

In fact,  one of our bishops from  those zones of current tragedy had to leave our meeting  abruptly  because  of  thousands  of  refugees  that  had  flocked  to  his Cathedral and its premises expecting protection and feeding from the bishop and his diocese. Unfortunately, the situation right now, in the North East,  Nigeria only confirms further killings, burnings and fleeing of defenseless Nigerians creating a heightened sense of unrest and siege for the whole nation.

As Nigeria tragically bleeds and burns,  we  Bishops are really alarmed at the scale of human,  material destruction, and the disruption of village and community  life with  increased  levels  of  hatred  and  potentials  for  more  conflicts  in  the  nation. While  Muslims  are  sometimes  targets  of  these  destructive  attacks,  Christians, Churches and non- Muslims in general are the principal targets for extermination, expropriation and expulsion by the Boko Haram insurgents, the perpetrators of all these destructions.

We  believe  that  we  still  have  governments-  at  Federal  and  State-  levels  whose primary duty it is to preserve and protect the life of every Nigerian irrespective of tribe, religion, social class or tradition.

In  the  face  of  this  Boko  Haram  group  and  other  criminal  militias  arming themselves  beyond  our  legitimate  government  and  brazenly  killing  innocent, defenseless citizens, our government must do more than it is currently doing to safeguard  our  lives  and  defend  our  nation.  It  must  do  more  than  it  is  currently doing to fight off and disarm these actual destroyers of Nigerians and  Nigeria. It must do more than it is  currently doing to prevent segments of  our nation from drifting into anarchy and mutual self-destruction and bring criminals to justice.

We  warn  every  Nigerian  community  at  local  and  state  levels  to  be  alert  to  the grave danger facing all of us and our nation from within and from without. The issue is not about who becomes president  or governor or senator  after the 2015 General  Elections. The issue is about the life and security of every one of us who loves his or her life and really cares about our living together in peace as noble Nigerians.

We urge  therefore  that we all  support and encourage every positive effort by the current  government to protect every Nigerian and defend the integrity and unity of Nigeria. Let us equally take  lawful  measures locally to prevent the destruction of fellow Nigerians and to ward off Nigeria’s destroyers.

We  have  mandated  our  CARITAS  (charity/emergency)  office  to  immediately provide funds and succor to all affected peoples as is within our capacity.

We  urge  government  and  every  endowed  Nigerian  to  reach  out  in  charity  and solidarity to rehabilitate and support our displaced brothers and sisters wherever they are and so sustain our God-given human dignity.

In  keeping  with  our  calling  as  religious  leaders,  we  Bishops  of  Nigeria  have resolved  to  organize  a  national  all  night  prayer  scheduled  for  13th and  14th November, 2014 at Abuja.

These are critical times for our country and everyone in position of authority must do everything possible to save our dear country, Nigeria.