The Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has urged the Federal Government to shelve the planned introduction of ‘grazing colonies’ in the interest of peace and cohesion.
This is contained in a statement jointly signed by the President of the CBCN and Archbishop of Jos Ignatius Kaigama and the Bishop of Gboko Most Rev. William Avenya.
The conference also bemoaned the rising cases of kidnapping and other criminality across the country urging government to act fast and decisively too.
“It would be stressing the obvious to state that a better alternative to open grazing should be sought rather than introducing “grazing colonies” in the country. Government should rather encourage cattle owners to establish ranches in line with international best practice,” the conference said.
The Bishops said the country appears to be under siege from many forces with innocent citizens in different communities across the nation brutally attacked and their sources of livelihood mindlessly destroyed repeatedly.
“Property, worth millions of Naira, including places of worship, schools, hospitals and business enterprises are torched and turned to ashes causing people to live in perpetual fear, anxiety and desperation. The recent mass slaughter of unarmed citizens by these armed herdsmen in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba states has caused national shock, grief and outcry.
“We commiserate with the families of the deceased, whilst we pray for the blissful repose of the dead and the quick recovery of the wounded. At the same time, we totally condemn such brutal massacres of innocent people. Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy but this is never to be done at the expense of other peoples’ lives or livelihoods.
“It is, therefore, madness to slaughter fellow human beings and shameful that we had to show the world this ugly picture of our country. If government is incapable or unwilling to protect the lives of her citizens before marauding herdsmen, people might be tempted to resort to self-help in defence of their lives and property when threatened or attacked,” they said.
According to them this will lead to the complete breakdown of law and order in the country and that to forestall this, government should urgently rise up to her primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of her citizens and ensure that such mindless killings is stopped.
They said, “With the array of intelligence officers at her disposal, government should also expeditiously take measures to unmask the perpetrators of these dastardly acts and their sponsors, disarm them and bring them to book. Our perilous situation calls for more security consciousness.”
They said farmers and herdsmen have lots to contribute to the socio-economic prosperity of the country and that a more enduring strategy must be worked out for their peaceful co-existence and mutual respect.