Stop culture of brutality, says Nigerian archbishop

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, president of the Nigerian bishops' conference. (CNS photo)

The head of the Nigerian bishops' conference urged Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the evolving culture of brutality and savagery in Nigeria, which he said was unparalleled in its history.

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos spoke after suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked indigenous farmers in southern Kaduna state in early January. The Diocese of Kafanchan, located in the area, estimated more than 800 people were killed, and damages to property and foodstuffs topped $17.5 million.

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"We are becoming so sadistic that we do not see that such brutality creates a culture of impunity, chaos, anarchy and doom; as if the needless killing by Boko Haram is not enough," said Archbishop Kaigama.

"The manner (in which) lives are being taken right now in southern Kaduna and many other troubled areas of our nation is tantamount to a declaration of war against helpless and innocent Nigerians.

"How can human lives be so casually terminated with pictures of dead bodies, decapitated or disfigured corpses shown in the social media?" he asked. "What is mind-boggling is the seeming insensitivity to the killings. Does it not trouble us that the international community is watching Nigeria with great apprehension?"

The archbishop said young people were gaining the impression that life was cheap and could be taken away at a whim. He said human life is sacred and cannot be sacrificed as if it were mere animal life for pleasure or celebration.

"For how long will killings, associated with demented or irrational reasoning, continue to be witnessed, especially in southern Kaduna, before a concerted effort is made to stop such carnage permanently?

"When will one Nigerian life matter, or must people be killed in thousands or millions before we realize the humongous damage done to our people?

A statement from the Diocese of Kafanchan said more than 1,400 houses, 16 churches, 19 shops, one primary school and five cars were destroyed in 53 villages. It called for an immediate cessation of hostilities by the warring parties, a commission of inquiry instituted to investigate the crisis.

"All perpetrators and sponsors of these evil must be fished out and punished accordingly, no matter how highly placed," it said.

It also demanded an immediate release of southern Kaduna youths and leaders it said were unjustly detained by various security agencies for trumped-up charges. It said the government should provide relief materials to victims of the attacks and compensate families that suffered losses.

"Communities overrun by Fulani herdsmen and now under occupation by same must be vacated, and their owners returned to their homes and farmlands immediately," it said.

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