1. Nigerian Bishops Speak Out on “The Darkest Chapter” in the Country’s History



The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has said that Nigeria is now passing through the darkest chapter of its history. This was said by the conference’s president, Most Rev Lucius Ugorji, at the opening session of the 2022 Second Plenary of the CBCN, held at the Sacred Heart Pastoral Centre, Orlu, and Imo State. The soaring levels of insecurity, unemployment and food and commodity prices, have left many Nigerians feeling anxious and finding it harder and harder to afford to live a decent life. “The level of insecurity in the country is very worrisome. We are passing through what might be deemed as the darkest chapter pf our history as a nation. extreme poverty, soaring unemployment rate, spiraling inflation, a collapsing economy, with ever increasing debt burden, and worsening insecurity have combined to complicate the plight of the average Nigerian, who appears condemned to a life of intolerable hardship and undeserved misery. The country has continued to bleed endlessly as a result of the ungodly activities of insurgents, bandits, militant herdsmen, unknown gunmen, kidnappers and trigger-happy security agents. Nowhere seems safe anymore. Homes, farmlands, markets, highways, places of worship and presbyteries have all been turned into kidnapping and killing fields. innocent citizens are butchered with savagery and brazen impunity by criminals who lack a sense of the sanctity of human life.” according to the Bishop, the best way to guarantee security in a nation is through good governance that aimed at the common good for the greater number of the citizens, saying “Good governance generates peace, which is the bedrock of development, and which takes root when people’s dignity and rights are respected; when there is the rule of law; when citizens are not excluded from political participation; when there is equitable distribution of national resources and people are free from hunger, poverty and unemployment. It is, therefore, belaboring the obvious the obvious to observe that lack of good governance results in extreme poverty, unemployment, hardship, crime and violent conflicts. In these difficult times, we cannot but stress that the first responsibility any government owes its citizens is the security of their lives and property. Nigerians have the right to live in a secure and safe country. This is basic; every other thing flows from it. After the heavy annual budgets on yearly basis and after repeated assurances by government that it is on top of the matter, our country remains plagued by insecurity. This is a shame. Government must wake up. Given that government appears overwhelmed in securing us, we encourage dioceses to take adequate measures to beef up security in our parishes, presbyteries and other church institutions. We also urge dioceses and all people of goodwill to take the upcoming 2023 general elections seriously. we must all brace up to share our values on goof governance based on the common good, and use our votes to elect people of unassailable integrity who have the character, competence, capacity and track record to lead our nation out of the present economic doldrums. The Bishop also touched on the migration crisis faced by the country, “The rising insecurity and worsening economic situation in the country are resulting in migration and brain drain. Professionals and skilled labourers are leaving the country in thousands annually in search of safety, security, job opportunities and better standard of living abroad, especially in Europe, United States and other African countries. No doubt, regular remittances from these migrant help to alleviate poverty among the households they left behind and impact positively on our national economy as a major source of inflow of foreign earning. Be that as it may, professionals and skilled labourers, who have helped in national development, are lost to the country. This is only one side of the story. The other side of the story, which is more of a national disgrace, consists of thousands of young men and women, who in search of greener pastures, embark on perilous journeys to Europe across the Sahara Desert. Along the way, some die and are buried in unmarked graves. Others are trafficked for slave labour, sexual exploitation and organ harvesting. Many get drowned as they try to crossover the Mediterranean Sea with rickety and risky boats. Those who are lucky to make it to their final destinations end up in camps for asylum seekers, where they are at times subjected to subhuman conditions. Despite the collaborative efforts of the Police, Customs, Immigration, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, and Network against Child Trafficking Abuse and Labour, NACTAL, to tackle human trafficking in Nigeria, traffickers are having a field day. This despicable modern day slavery is booming because it has become a lucrative business and also as a result of the high level of corruption underpinning it. Out of desperation to escape from extreme poverty and in the bid to support their poor families financially, some young girls, with the support of their parents, volunteer themselves to be trafficked for prostitution, without being aware of the level of exploitation and dehumanization awaiting them.” he urged civil society, parish communities, dioceses and other organizations to work together to help raise awareness on the situation in the country. The cleric also touched on the environment, during this month of Care for Creation. “We are worried that unrestricted environmental pollution is causing climate change. it is also appalling that the prevailing culture of consumerism has led to the consumption of raw materials and energy are a rate unprecedented in human history, and is also causing the mindless degradation of the environment. It is mind boggling to think pf the quantity of raw materials consumed every day in today’s world and the quantity of energy used in the running of production plants, generators and vehicles. it is no less shocking to think of the resultant environmental pollution, as well as the degradation of the environment with tons of disposable containers, cellophane and plastic materials thrown away daily. These no-degradable plastic materials end up in landfills, as well as oceans, seas and rivers and pose danger to aquatic life. It is also worrisome to observe that toxic and radio-active materials disposed in refuse dumps pollute the soil and sources of potable water.”


2. Attacks in Kogi State




In Kogi State, at least four people have been killed and two others injured after an attack along the Idrisu-Bagana road in Ofeapo, Omal Local Government Area. The victims were attacked while they were returning from the local Bagana market last week Thursday. They were almost all on tricycles when the gunmen opened fire on them, at close range. The spokesperson of the state police, William Aya, confirmed the incident, but claimed them only one person was killed, not four, and two injured, who were taken to a local hospital in Abejukolo, in Omala LGA. According to Aya, the state commissioner of Police, Edward, Egbuka, mobilized a tactical squad and officers who went down to the scene in an effort to flush out the perpetrators. The paramount ruler of Omala Local Government Area traditional council, Mr. Boniface Musa, the Ojogba of Ife, has condemned the attacks and has said he prays to God to give the families of the deceased the strength to grieve and continue after their untimely deaths. the Ojogba of Ife also lamented the never-ending attacks on the Bagana people, saying that the peace process keeps being retarded when in fact, this is the time for all people to come together to make an effort for the safe return of the people who were displaced from their homes by violence. He appealed to the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to get involved in the Bagana conflict, which has so far left many homeless and claimed many casualties, by deploying security forces to Bagana, as per the recommendations of Col Suleiman Babanawa.


3. Further Attacks in Benue State




In Benue State, another four people have been killed in two separate attacks by suspected herders on two communities in Guma Local Government Area. Some houses were also apparently torched in the attacks. Three people were killed in Yogbo community on Friday, and one more in Ukohol community early Saturday morning. A local resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “Two women were killed behind Yogbo primary school and another one also within the community yesterday (Friday).

Incidentally, the chairman of the local government is from the Yogbo community. Today (Saturday) the attackers killed one person at Ukohol. They also burnt many houses in several villages that were attacked in the area.” the chairman of the local government, Mike Ubah, has confirmed the incident, “Four people were killed. Three of them at Yogbo while one was killed at Ukohor within the same period.”

Also in Benue State, on Wednesday 14 September three people were killed in Agondo Kowe, Guma Local Government Area


4. Traditional leader Kidnapped in Imo State




A well-known traditional leader in Imo State, Eze Jewel Ndenkwo, who is the traditional ruler of the Isiala Umudi community in the Nkwerre Local Government Area, has been kidnapped, apparently by unknown gunmen. He was taken in front of one of his companies in Owerri, the state capital. The abductors have yet to make contact with his family or demand a ransom, according to a source close to the situation. “The traditional ruler was kidnapped about 7pm Friday in front of his office at the ever busy Tetlow Road in Owerri.”

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