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Onaiyekan, catholic leaders charge Buhari to stop herdsmen killings

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Fr Kukah officiating at the burial of the priests in Makurdi

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, on Tuesday in Abuja called on Nigerians to exercise patience irrespective of the barbaric killings by herdsmen in the country.

Onaiyekan made the call in an interview with newsmen following the nationwide peaceful protest by the Catholics and other Christians, for the slain priests and lay faithful in Mbalon, Benue.
The two Catholic priests, Rev. Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, and 17 worshippers were killed on Tuesday, April 24 when herdsmen invaded St. Ignatius Quasi Parish, Ukpor-Mbalom in Ayar-Mbalom community of Gwer East Local Government Area (LGA) during Morning Mass.

The peaceful protest held in Abuja was tagged: “Peaceful March and Prayer for Nigeria’’.

He said that Christians should make it a duty to live in peace with everyone, adding that God Himself enjoins Christians to live and walk in peace.

“Our nation is dire in need of peace. The patience of those who speak peace and strive to live in peace is being over stretched every day.

“We must continue to work for peace with the support of the grace which comes to us every day from God.

“We who are Christians need to counter the evil intensions of those who desire a nation that is soaked in blood.

“The time has come for us to unite and to act as one people with a destiny, a focus and a programme of fulfilling the desires of our own people,’’ Onaiyekan said.

Mike Omeri, former Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), advised the Federal Government to lead the way by having a dialogue with neighbouring countries to come up with diplomatic solutions.

Omeri said that Libya and Mali should be reached out to, in order to bring lasting solutions to the crisis in Nigeria.

“The government normally has number strategies to combat issues and we have to get involved.

“Time has come that the government should reach out to the government of Libya and Mali so that we will find diplomatic solutions to the crisis at home.

“We have been losing productive citizens in their primes. They can contribute positively in various ways to the development of this country and we cannot afford to be a nation that grieves every day,’’ Omeri said.

Rev Fr. Patrick Alumuku, Chairman Planning Committee, called on the Federal Government to get involved in bringing peace to the country.

Alumuku explained that without peace in the nation there would be no development, progress and future in the country.

“We intend to send a strong message to the nation that life is sacred and important; without life there will be no nation.

“What we have experienced in this nation is completely unacceptable, unjustifiable and it does not lead to good governance.

“As everybody is saying, ‘enough is enough’ I do not think these are strong words but to say that we cannot go on this way.

“We are calling for peace in Nigeria and we know that without peace there can be no meaningful development, progress and there can be no future, so we are praying for peace.

“We are expecting that peace will come to reign in our land. We want a stop to these killings,’’ Alumuku said.

Protestors in Benin City

Hundreds of Catholics across Nigeria on Tuesday staged peaceful protest in solidarity with the victims of attacks by suspected herdsmen in Benue and other States.

In Benin, tThe protesters, under different groups, marched through major roads in the metropolis, with many them carried placards with various inscriptions, as they prayed for an end to the killings, kidnapping and other forms of violence bedevilling the country.

They urged President Buhari to ensure justice for all Nigerians by taking urgent steps to rid the country of the spate of attacks by suspected herdsmen in several States.

The Chancellor of the archdiocese, Very Revd. Fr. Michael Oyanoafor, lamented that the level of violence in the country had deteriorated to a level that put the life of every Nigerian at risk.

“We are using the opportunity to say that life is sacred; nobody has the right to take a life. We are, therefore, saying no to killings, kidnapping, cultism and other vices.

“We are also saying no to terrorism. We are saying all these because, in different parts of the world, especially in Nigeria, no one is spared, (whether they are) Catholics, Christians, Muslims or worshippers of the Africa traditional religion.

“Inasmuch as the government is trying to some extent to see what it can do to cushion the situation, we are saying that many people are still dying. It should do more.

“We are telling the government to make every effort to arrest the situation so that the citizens can live in peace. It has the power, in terms of having control of the Nigeria Police and the military in different forms and capacity. We are saying that it should help out,” Oyanoafor said.