COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE FIRST MEETING OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF THE LAGOS ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE FOR 2018 HELD AT THE McGOVERN HALL, ST AGNES CATHOLIC CHURCH, MARYLAND, LAGOS
We Catholic Bishops of Lagos Ecclesiastical Province, comprising of the Archdiocese of Lagos and the Dioceses of Ijebu Ode and Abeokuta, held our First Plenary Meeting for the year 2018 at the McGovern Hall of St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland on 25th January 2018. After a prayerful deliberation on issues of immense importance to our Church and our nation at large, we hereby issue the following communiqué:
1.Growth of the Church
We give thanks to God for the evident growth that we are experiencing in the life of the Church as demonstrated in the vibrancy of the different Associations of the lay faithful and greater participation in the life of the Church. We commend our Priests, Religious and lay faithful for their commitment to the faith and the Church. We urge them not to relent in their commitment to the life and growth of the Church.
2.Welfare of Youths
We call on all segments of the Church to pay serious attention to the growth in faith and welfare of our youths. Associations of the Lay Faithful are encouraged to reflect on ways by which they can assist in the formation and care of the youth as they fashion out their programs of action and plans for the year. This will help us to be in sync with the Holy Father and the theme of the forthcoming synod on the youths and vocations.
3.Sympathy for Victims of Attacks by Fulani Herdsmen
We join the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria to commiserate with the families and relationsof fellow Nigerians who lost their lives recently in Benue, Adamawa Taraba states and SouthernKaduna as a result of deadly attacks by Fulani herdsmen. We also sympathize with our Christian brothers and sisters in those states who, over time, have been subjected to series of unwarranted attacks, persecution and provocation by herdsmen and other similar arms-wielding groups because of their faith. We condemn these senseless and arbitrary killings which in recent times leave one with the impression that there is more to it than the acquisition of land for the purpose of cattle grazing.
4.We say No to Cattle Colonies
We take serious exception to the provocative comments recently attributed to a university don of Fulani extraction to the effect that the People of Benue are a conquered people who have no rights to the land which they presently occupy.In the same vein, we reject the proposed move by the Federal Government to establish Cattle colonies across the various states of the federation as a way of finding a lasting solution to the Herdsmen/Farmers clashes.
Such a move is not only capable of further exacerbating an already tensed atmosphere, but also leave one with the impression that the much-touted Islamization agenda of Nigeria is an ongoing project that may have tacitly received the approval of Mr. President.
5.Yes to Ranches
All over the world, cattle grazing have long become obsolete. Ranches are the in-thing. One wonders why the rearing of cattle, like all other forms of personal businesses, should not be subjected to the same laws and regulations applicable to all corporate entities in the country! We call on the Federal Government to help bring about a permanent solution to the frequent Herdsmen/Farmers clashes by ensuring that the cattle owners establish ranches for their cattle without endangering the life and livelihood of others. Loan facilities as well as other relevant incentives should be extended to them in recognition of their contribution and relevance to the nation’s economy.
6.Prosecution of Culprits
Life is a precious gift to man by the Almighty. Since it is irreplaceable, no one has the arbitrary right to take the life of another. It is for this reason that the government is constitutionally empowered, not only to safe-guard the lives and properties of citizens, but also to deal decisively with murderers and other out-laws in order to prevent thebreakdown of law and order.
We believe that the incessant killings by herdsmen across the country, if not promptly curtailed, have the capability of subjecting the country to further major civil unrests with disastrous consequences on the nation’s unity.
In view of this, we demand that those who have so far been implicated in the killings and their sponsors must be promptly arrested and made to face the music without fear or favour. We also expect that those of them who are still on the run should be smoked out of their holes for the law to take its course. Nothing short of the above steps will help to convince the Nigerian populace of the sincerity of President Muhammodu Buhari to bring an end to the menace.
7. Need for More Voters Registration
In times past, many Nigerians showed apathy in matters concerning politics. Thankfully this is no longer the case as they have since realized that the power to determine their present and future happiness lies in the votes they cast during elections.
With the election year 2019 just by the corner, we call on all our people to take time to go and register and get their voters cards ready ahead of the forthcoming elections. Similarly, we wish to request that the
Independent National Electoral Commission, the arbiter of our electoral processes, to be more alive to its responsibilities, particularly inaddressing the various complaints of the would-be electorate who are finding it extremely difficult to complete their registrations at the designated centres. In many instances, registration machines are said not to be functioning well while officials who are designated to man the centres are often not on seat to attend to people. These lapses need to be addressed as soon as possible to confirm the integrity of the process.
In conclusion we call on our people to continue to pray without ceasing for the peace and unity of the nation, particularly in the wake of the pervading insecurity being witnessed across the nation.We also pray that God would empower our leaders with the spirit of justice, fairness and love so that Nigeria can attain the heights that God has truly destined for her.