On Tuesday, April 24th, 2018, the nation was confronted with the gruesome murder of its citizens by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen at St. Ignatius Quasi Parish Ukpor-Mbalom in Ayar-Mbalom community of Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State, during early morning mass. Left in a pool of blood, were two priests, Rev. Frs. Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, the Catechist and 14 other worshippers. On June 22, 2016, it was a Black-Wednesday for the Catholic Diocese of Otukpo, the same Benue State, when its Vicar General, Very Rev. Fr. John Adeyi was abducted and killed. Similarly, another priest, Rev. Fr. Julius Gospel Inalegwu, was abducted on June 23, 2016 at his parish rectory, Jitan Dutse, Tudun Wada Local Government Area of Kano State by unknown gunmen at 1:30am.
The Shina Rambo styles deployed by these assailants in executing the sinister acts were similar in horror and ferocity like the killings which took place at St. Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu, Anambra State. On Sunday, August 6, 2017, unknown assailants stormed the church while service was going on and released lethal metal that led to the death of 13 worshipers.
Recall that on Christmas day (December 25), 2011, Boko Haram insurgents led by Kabiru Sokoto, bombed St. Theresaa��s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, killing more than 32 persons. In Plateau, Borno, Imo, Edo, Enugu, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Rivers, Cross River, Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Bauchi, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara and Adamawa states, similar orgies of killings have been recounted repeatedly.
Recall equally that on Friday, July 12, 2012, the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Kyari Garbai Ibn El Knaemi, escaped death as a Boko Haram terrorist suicide bomber detonated explosives in Maiduguri during Friday prayers as the monarch observed prayers in the mosque near his palace. Four people reportedly died as a result. Also on November 28, 2014, terrorists stuck at the Central Mosque (Grand Mosque) in Kano, killing over 200 people. Needless repeating what has almost become a refrain particularly in the North Easten and North Central parts of the country, where Boko Haram have turned killings, kidnappings and destruction of communities into ritual. The orgy of killings of Christian and Muslim worshipers at worship centers remains worrisome.
Apart from these, series of deadly attacks on sleepy communities, targeted mainly against farmers by herdsmen are gradually becoming a daily refrain. This is just as cattle hustlers have turned life of herders into nightmare. If such did not happen in one state today, it would be in another or several states at the same time. The ferocity and fecundity of such attacks gives the impression that the hoodlums perpetrating these attacks are somehow invincible or above the law.
These killers seem to have circumvented measures put in place by the nationa��s security operatives – the Military, Police, Department of State Security (DSS), and sister security agencies, to halt the situation. But, it is disturbing that Nigerians are now being told that these killer herdsmen are invaders from Libya and other countries.
Most unfortunately, their dastardly acts have reduced the value of human life to almost that of chicken in the country. These senseless killers have even attacked Internally Displace Peoples (IDP) Camps, leaving blood, sorrow and tears. Their modus operandi are almost replicated at every attack, and remain serious cause for concern, especially with earlier assurances by the security that there should be no cause for worry.
The AUTHORITY wishes to state unequivocally that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, should see this as a big affront on his status and the nation, especially with his statement that trained mercenaries by the late Col. Muamar Ghadaffi of Libya were the ones perpetrating these acts. It is worrisome that criminals from foreign countries could descend on Nigerian communities and spread blood.
There is therefore growing propensity that people no longer believe that the nationa��s security aparati are capable of providing security. This is especially when assurances of safety in the past had all failed. And inspite of repeated attacks, the security architecture are yet to be overhauled.
It is our opinion that the killings are gradually eroding the integrity of our security forces and it is not good for our country, especially at the diplomatic scene. Some State Governors and community leaders openly and repeatedly accusing the security forces of either complacency or complicity, remain most unfortunate. The issue here goes beyond propaganda. It is serious and needs to be handled with all seriousness.
What we advocate is that henceforth, the leadership of the security forces sent to keep the peace in these troubled areas should draw parameters for assessment of their efforts. They should also strengthen their intelligence gathering propensity since it appears these hoodlums have better intelligence.
The killings at worship centers are even more lethal because it could snowball to religious crises, capable of truncating our hard-earned democracy and national unity. While Federal Government goes beyond condemning the dastardly acts, it should ensure that citizens are actually being protected, security of property are guaranteed and seen to be so.
While security agencies hasten their intelligence gathering and processing propensity, the judiciary should ensure quick dispensation of justice on matters brought for adjudication. The legislature on its part should quickly strengthen our statues for the greater good and unity of Nigeria.