Catholic Bishops have advised the Federal Government to stop treating the menace of killer herdsmen and other crimes with levity, noting that such disposition of the government was creating panic and fear among Nigerians.
They said it was sad that the government has not even shown a clear pattern to secure the lives of the people and through which those perpetrating the acts can be apprehended and punished.
The Catholic Bishops also appealed to the Federal Government to halt the attempt to license and impose tax on places of worship in the country, disclosing that they suspect the government as having a hidden agenda regarding the proposed action.
The clergymen said these in a communique issued and read by the Metropolitan Bishop of Ibadan and the President of the Nigeria Catholic Conference, Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, Gabriel Abegunrin, after their meeting held at the Pope John Paul II Pastoral Centre in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, yesterday.
The Catholic Bishops called on the governments of West African sub-region to invest more in youth development to reduce crimes like illegal migration, prostitution, kidnapping and other social menaces.
“When this insecurity started, it was one corner of the country, but now it has gone round the geopolitical zones, what is government doing. If there is no security, there is no reason for government to exist.
“It is unfortunate that Nigerians wake up each day to lament woeful news of killings, lynching, kidnappings and brigandage in the country. Many people including priests have fallen victims to this tragically insecure environment.
“The lack of clear pattern of punishing crimes and lip service to the commitment to the protection of lives and property on the part of the Federal Government and security agencies have made many Nigerians living in fear day to day.
“There seems to be no end in sight, especially with allegations of killings by Fulani herdsmen being left unattended to. Time is running out for Nigeria if the security is not improved. We call on governments, traditional and other civil authorities to please save our country,” they pleaded.
On the reported crimes of abduction of oneself, and jailing of priests for rape, the Bishops said these were manifestations of the total rot in the Nigerian society and loss of family values, stressing that all the citizens must share in the blame.
“It is sad that we are losing our core family values. We must take care of our children and imbibe the culture of being our brother’s keepers like we had before, because what is happening today has to do with our backgrounds.
“We know the economic situation calls for us to overwork ourselves, but parents must look for time to take care of their children. This is the only way we can rid our society of evils and have a brighter future”, they said.
The Bishops, however, commended governments on their improved commitment to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions.
On the Federal Government’s directive through the Ministry of Interior to license places of worship for celebration of marriages and issuing of marriage certificates, the Bishops said such a proposal needed to be approached with caution and should be given a second thought, especially as concerns imposition of annual levies on these institutions.
“Contemporary circumstances in Nigeria demand that government must approach religious matters with utmost caution do as not to he considered partisan and partial on national issues”.
The Bishops warned the Federal Government against taking steps that could tinker with the freedom of the press, insisting that the media should not be gagged under any guise.
“Only courageous pressmen can now come out boldly and talk. But all must work hard and remove whatever that is working against the freedom of the press. Government must give the press that full freedom for them to be able to speak the truth to power,” they said.
Meanwhile, the Zamfara State Governor, Dr. Bello Matawalle, said the government would grant amnesty to 100 Fulani bandits in Gusau prison as part of the ongoing peace process in the state.
The Fulani, who are detained for offences related to the banditry menace bedeviling the state, would be released before the week runs out to celebrate Sallah with their families.
Muhammad stated this when he received representatives of the Fulani community at the centre of the peace process in the forest wielding guns and detaining abductees.
The governor lamented the plight of the Fulanis today, not only in Zamfara but in the country at large where they are termed as terrorists worse than Boko Haram.
He promised to work in line with his administration’s determination to save the Fulani from themselves and the wrath of the larger society.
“I am one of you and I know you are not terrorists. What is happening today has a cause and we are determined to address it with your cooperation,” the governor said.
As a measure of addressing the problem, Matawalle said their North-West Governors meeting held in Katsina, last week, outlawed vigilantes against banditry otherwise known as “Yan Sa Kai”.
Matawalle called on all the Fulani in the state to disregard anyone who goes around telling them that the government was not sincere about the peace process.
“You can see now you are here not only in Zamfara State Government House. Nobody will arrest or harm you. Our aim is to have a lasting peace in our dear state,” the governor pointed out.
Representatives of the Fulani, who spoke through an elder, Baba Alhaji Bello, commended the forthrightness of the governor and his proven honesty and commitment to the peace process.
Bello promised that all the known bandits will listen to the new sermon and surrender their weapons because they will listen to them.
He assured that the Fulani in the state will adhere to the new pact and ensure a lasting peace in the state.
Similarly, residents of Monguno Local Government Area of Borno State, yesterday, said that attack by Boko Haram, Monday night at about 10:25 pm left five civilians dead with several others injured following exchange of gunfire between security forces and members of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).
A resident, Mohammed Muktar, told newsmen that, the situation in Monguno was now calm, but there was restriction of movement in some parts of the town.
According to him, “There have been several attempts by Boko Haram to take over Monguno since the beginning of this year. But last night attack was deadly. We do not know the number of soldiers or Boko Haram that were killed, however, stray bullets killed five civilians and injured many others. It was too bad. Most of us are just returning from hiding. “
A source within the security operative in Monguno said that, the attackers came through Kuya village to attack soldiers’ location at Charlie1 near the stadium.
“We fought them throughout the night and managed to repel them. I am not in the position to speak on casualty, but as I always said, this is not a game and casualties are bound to come at the end of a battle as this. We are counting on your prayers as we put our lives on the lines. If we lose comrades in a fight, we move on knowing that, we do not die in vain but so that innocent people can have peace”, the source said.
Local hunters and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force in Monguno, who spoke with newsmen, said the attack was the most deadly in recent times.
A member of the local vigilante, Abdulkadir Musa, said that, “I cannot give you the details because the security forces are still in pursuit of the Boko Haram fighters and corpses are still being gathered. We have found five among the civilians, but the soldiers have evacuated their own and that of the Boko Haram fighters they killed.”
Attempt to get the Spokesman of 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Col. Ado Isa, to speak on the attack in Monguno did not yield result as he could not pick calls or reply to the text message sent to him as at the time of this report.
However, the Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, who said he was just getting the information, noted that he would contact the Theatre Centre for update.
Trans-Kalabari Road: Banigo, Stakeholders Condemn Abduction Of Expatriate
Kalabari traditional rulers and stakeholders have condemned the recent abduction of an expatriate staff of Lubric Construction Company working on the Trans-Kalabari Road.
Speaking at a meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, last Friday, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said she was deeply pained by the unfortunate incident carried out by unknown miscreants.
According to the deputy governor, who said that the State Chief Executive Officer, Nyesom Wike, was desirous to bring more development projects to Kalabari Kingdom, regretted that this act was capable of discouraging him.
“I want to reiterate that our governor is very desirous to do more developmental projects in our communities, there are many more things he has in the card to do for us, and if we allow this ugly thing to surface, that attitude will discourage him”, the deputy governor noted.
Banigo, who said that perpetrators of the heinous crime did not drop from the sky, insisted that they were community people, and must be fished out and dealt with decisively, while calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the abductee.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, expressed regrets that a project as important as the Trans-Kalabari Road would be tampered with by persons who do not mean well for the Kalabari people.
“If their intention is to run down the good works of our dear governor, over a project which the Kalabari people have been yearning for over the years, then, I am sure God Almighty will not allow them to get away with this dastardly act of kidnapping one expatriate”, Alabraba stressed.
Alabraba further said, “It is important that we talk to ourselves and ensure that everything possible is done to ensure immediate release of the victim, and ensure that measures are put in place to forestall this type of thing in the future”.
Presenting a seven-point communique, Amanyanabo of Minama, King Iboroma Talbot Pokubo, who represented the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disreal Gbobo Bobmanuel, demanded for the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate, and reassured Governor Wike of their unwavering support for the governor.
Buhari Approves Incorporation Of NNPC, Appoints Board Members
President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited be incorporated.
He also approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited with Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as chairman.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, was appointed chief executive officer.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, saying that the president acted in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, has directed the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“This is in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the company.
“The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, has, therefore, been directed to take necessary steps to ensure that the incorporation of the NNPC Limited is consistent with the provisions of the PIA 2021.
“Also, by the power vested in him under Section 59(2) of the PIA 2021, President Buhari has approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited, with effect from the date of incorporation of the company.
“Chairman of the board is Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, while Mele Kolo Kyari and Umar I. Ajiya are chief executive officer, and chief financial officer, respectively.
“Other board members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North-East); Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North-Central); Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North-West); Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South-South); and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South-West).”
Reject Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request, SERAP Tells NASS
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; to reject the fresh request by President Muhammadu Buhari, to borrow $4billion and €710million.
SERAP said if such request must be granted, the Federal Government should publish details of spending of all loans obtained since May 29, 2015.
The group also expressed fear that if the fresh request is granted, it may take Nigeria’s to over N35trillion.
Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly to borrow $4,054,476,863 and €710million, on the grounds of “emerging needs.”
The request was contained in a letter dated August 24, 2021.
In an open letter dated September 18, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation expressed “concerns about the growing debt crisis, the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans that have been obtained, and the perceived unwillingness or inability of the National Assembly to vigorously exercise its constitutional duties to check the apparently indiscriminate borrowing by the government.”
SERAP said, “The National Assembly should not allow the government to accumulate unsustainable levels of debt, and use the country’s scarce resources for staggering and crippling debt service payments rather than for improved access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services and human rights.
“The country’s public debt has mushroomed with no end in sight. The growing national debt is clearly not sustainable. There has been no serious attempt by the government to cut the cost of governance. The leadership of the National Assembly ought to stand up for Nigerians by asserting the body’s constitutional powers to ensure limits on national debt and deficits.
“Should the National Assembly and its leadership fail to rein in government borrowing, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of public loans, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly to discharge its constitutional duties.
“SERAP notes that if approved, the country’s debts will exceed N35trillion. The government is also reportedly pushing the maturity of currently-secured loans to between 10 and 30 years. N11.679trillion is reportedly committed into debt servicing, while only N8.31trillion was expended on capital/development expenditure between 2015 and 2020.
“Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of loans by the government and cutting the cost of governance would address the onerous debt servicing, and improve the ability of the government to meet the country’s international obligations to use maximum available resources to ensure the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights, such as quality healthcare and education”, SERAP added.
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