Catholic priests in Nigeria have expressed concern over the rampant cases of insecurity in the country and demanded that the Federal Government should declare emergency on kidnapping.
According to them, the menace has reached a dangerous dimension that their colleagues and religious sisters, have now become serious targets of kidnapper and endangered species.
The priests also condemned cases of sexual harassment of victims of violence in Internally Displaced Persons camps, with a call on government to check the trend and punish perpetrators.
The priests under the aegis of Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria and Justice Development and Peace Commission, two agencies of the Catholic Church, raised these issues in a communique issued at the end of their 2017 Annual General Meeting of Nigerian coordinators and provincial chairmen/secretaries and program managers.
The AGM was held at the Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The communique was signed by the International Director of CCFN, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, who is also Executive Secretary of JDPC.
Others who signed the communique are Rev. Fr. Matthew Ezea (Nsukka , Chairman Drafting Committee); Sir Mark Asu-Obi (Kano); Rev. Fr. David Aguneri (Umuahia); Sr. Mary Agatha Ogbuagu (Ekiti); Eugene Ukoyonok (Kano) and Coleman Gboshe (Ogoja).
The priests said, “The JDPC/CARITAS representatives note with great sadness the re-emergence of kidnapping across the country. An unfortunate twist is the kidnapping of priests and religious sisters, who are gradually turning into endangered species.
“Unfortunately, even the poor among us are no longer safe. This has brought tension as no one is safe on our roads and at home. We therefore call on the government whose primary responsibility it is to secure lives and property to declare a state of emergency on this very critical security issue.
“We have observed with utmost dismay the reports on the incessant sexual harassments and other unholy practices at IDP camps. These have led to loss of confidence on IDP camps.
“Consequently, many people affected by this, have once again, become displaced and moving into new spaces seeking refuge, thereby causing internal conflicts in places like Nassarawa State between the host communities and the internal migrants. We call on government to ensure that this problem is handled properly.”
The priests also decried the deplorable state of Nigerian prisons and the inhuman and unjust treatment of their inmates, particularly those awaiting trial.
“The incessant and unlawful detention of people and the brutality meted out to them by the police is hereby strongly condemned. We join our voices in advocating for the probe of SARS and its review or eventual ban.
“The Nigerian judiciary is hereby encouraged to redeem the image of this democracy by ensuring the speedy dispensation of justice in accordance with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act”, they stated.
The meeting also lamented the enslavement of blacks, including Nigerians in Libya and other Arab nations, saying migration is not a new phenomenon as human beings have implanted in them a desire to seek better conditions of living.
The cleric’s said, “We cannot blame the youths who seek for a better life away from a country that offers no future to them. The wave of illegal migration is an indictment on government at all levels, especially Edo State government and the immigration services, as well as the Federal Government.
“The government should make its programs accessible to the teeming youth who want to make a good living. However, there can be no cure for youths whose only desire is to make quick profit and become rich overnight. Such youths use poverty as an excuse to indulge in all kinds of illegal behaviours but really, what stands out is greed and the refusal to start small..
“We call on government to be hard on human traffickers, especially the collaborators from within the security apparatus of government. We strongly appeal to the government at all levels to immediately tackle the problem of unemployment which is at the root cause of this problem.”