Juliana Francis

The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has expressed concern over Nigeria’s rising wave of insecurity and its implications for political stability.

In a statement signed by CHRICED’s   Executive Director, Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, said that if the increasing pattern of attacks by terrorists and criminal elements were not resolutely confronted, it could serve as a catalyst for serious religious conflict in the country.

He said: “This is in addition to the daily loss of dozens of human lives and the destruction of people’s property at the hands of enemies of the State. As things stand, not a single day passes without citizens being subjected to violent attacks by a variety of criminal elements that leave a trail of sadness, tears, and blood. In the face of these atrocities, the Nigerian State seems impotent and incapable of effectively responding to the security crisis that has engulfed the entire country, despite billions of United States Dollars invested by President Buhari’s administration in the fight against insurgency, including the purchase of Tucano Jets.”

Zikirullahi noted that more worrisome was the country’s insecurity in the emerging pattern of religious leaders and clerics being targeted for attacks, kidnapping, or outright elimination.

He opined that from the kidnapping of the Methodist Prelate in Abia to the recurring abduction of Catholic Church priests, the religious dimension of recent violence necessitates introspection and a clear shift in strategy by those tasked with protecting lives and property.

He further noted: “While the escalating problem of insecurity knows no sectarian victim, there is data to show that in recent attacks Catholic Priests have come out worse off when counting the human costs of the insecurity. Reverend Fr. Joseph Aketeh Bako of the Catholic Diocese of Kaduna reportedly died in the den of his abductors in May 2022 because of maltreatment and inhumane conditions in which he was held. He was kidnapped along with two other priests earlier in March 2022. The other two priests, Leo Raphael Ozigi and Felix Zakari Fidson, were later released. Rev. Fr. Vitus Borogo of the same Kaduna Diocese was killed by bandits the following month, in June.  On June 6, 2022, during an attack on St Xavier Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, 40 people were reportedly killed. And just two weeks after the incident in Owo, gunmen struck again, this time at the Saint Moses Catholic Church in Kaduna, where three people were confirmed dead. Rev. Fr. Christopher Odia was kidnapped and killed in Ikabigbo, Etsako West LGA, Edo State, in a similar tragic killing. The priest, who was abducted on his way to church, was reportedly gunned down after local security operatives (vigilantes and hunters) gave his kidnappers a hot chase to rescue him. Rev. Fr. Peter Amodu was also reportedly kidnapped by unknown armed men on the Okpokwu Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue State’s Otukpo-Ugbokolo Road on July 5. Many other priests who survived such ordeals are still dealing with the trauma of spending weeks in terrorist and criminal dens.”

The human rights activist added that CHRICED was disturbed those spiritual leaders and clerics who should be revered, respected, and honoured were being targeted and murdered by mindless criminals.

“We call on officials saddled with the task of protecting lives and property to urgently change the fruitless strategy of waiting to see if the attacks and general wave of insecurity would end on their own,” said Zikirullahi.

CHRICED also condemned the Federal Government’s feeble posture in the face of the never-ending assault on the sanctity of human life.

“Given this government’s failure to take decisive action to halt the country’s rampant insecurity, we call on the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council to uphold their oaths of office by taking drastic measures to save precious lives, and democracy and restore effective governance. We urge all well-meaning organisations in the country and around the world to speak out and put pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to end the current lack of a clear vortex of authority in dealing with insecurity in the country,” stated Zikirullahi.

He added: “However if President Buhari believes he is too weak or tired to take charge of protecting citizens’ lives and property, as he was elected to do, the best option is for him to resign as President rather than subject the country to its current travails, where it is sliding towards the status of a failed state where impunity reigns and people are at the mercy of bandits and insurgents. The government has a responsibility to protect all citizens; the sooner it begins to fulfill this responsibility, the better for our country’s stability.”

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