By Emeka Mamah & Sam Eyoboka
Enugu—The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has fixed Tuesday, May 22, as a day of protests for Catholic faithful across the country.
This came as the Tor Tiv, HRM, Prof James Ayatse, said he would soon convene a peace meeting with the governor of Nasarwa State, Tanko Al-Makura, and Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai to find a lasting solution to killings of Tiv people in both Benue and Nasarawa states.
The CBCN said the protests would coincide with the burial of the two priests and 17 parishioners killed by herdsmen during a morning mass at Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.
This was contained in an announcement made by the bishops in the Sunday Bulletin of the church and circulated to all the dioceses of the church in the country yesterday.
The announcement, entitled “Peaceful Demonstration,” read: “The CBCN has directed that every Diocese in Nigeria should organise a peaceful demonstration/ rally against the barbaric but intolerable killing of two priests and 17 others by herdsmen last month in Benue State, Date May 22, 2018. Time:10am, as the funeral of the innocent victims would be going on.
“Details of how this all important solidarity action will take place in our dioceses will be communicated through the parish priests. Every Christian and all men and women of goodwill are hereby called to participate.”
Suspected herdsmen in the early hours of April 24, 2018, stormed St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor-mbalom parish, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue, killing two priests and 17 parishioners.
The attack came barely four days after the murder of 10 persons by herdsmen in neighboring Guma Local Government Area and the destruction of 300 houses by military personnel in Naka, Gwer West Local Government Area of the state.
Also in a demonstration of solidarity with the victims of the dastardly act, the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos has perfected plans to hold a requiem mass for the two slain priests on Tuesday, May 22.
According to a source close to the Archdiocese, the mass will hold at St. Leo Catholic Church, Ikeja, by 10.00 a.m. and immediately after the mass, there will be a peaceful procession from the church to the Lagos State Governor’s Office at Alausa, Ikeja.
Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop, Metropolitan See of Lagos, who disclosed this, described the “atrocious terrorist attacks” that witnessed the brutal killings of two Catholic Priests and a number of parishioners as “one of the ugly incidences that calll our attention to the insecurity in the country and the failure on the part of the government to ensure the security of lives and properties of its citizens.
Tor Tiv plans peace meeting
Meanwhile, the Tor Tiv, HRM, Prof James Ayatse, has said he would soon convene a peace meeting with the governor of Nasarwa State, Tanko Al-Makura, and Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai to find a lasting solution to killings of Tiv people in both Benue and Nasarawa states.
The Tor Tiv, who is the Chairman, Benue State Council of Chiefs, gave the assurance yesterday in his palace in Gboko, Benue State, when Tiv leaders in Nasarawa State, under the umbrella of Mdzough U Tiv, led by its president, Mr Thomas Gaar, paid him a courtesy call.
He assured Tiv people in Nasarawa State that the Tiv traditional council would wade into their plight to bring the menace of herdsmen attacks on them to an end.
The Tiv community in Nasarawa State went to intimate the paramount ruler of the unending attacks on the Tiv indigenes of the state which has sent thousands to their early graves.
The Tor Tiv said that his major concern at the movement, as the father of the Tiv people in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states, is to ensure the security of lives, property and the general welfare of his subjects in these states.
He explained that he was fully aware of the incessant killings, destruction of farmlands, foodstuff, burning of houses and displacement of the entire Tiv settlements in Nasarawa State, noting that some of the crises that led to these were political.
According to him, others are as a result of land dispute, market disagreements and the anti-grazing law enacted in Benue State.
The paramount ruler said he was also aware of the role being played by some few Tiv sons in Nasarawa State against the plight of the people and prayed God to forgive them for the atrocities they are committing against their own people in the state.
He said he would soon initiate a peace and security meeting with the Emir of Lafia, as well as the governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura and the head of the Nigerian Army, with a view to bringing in permanent solution to the plight of Tiv people in Nasarawa State.
He urged the Tiv people in Nasarawa State to be united under one umbrella (Mdzough U Tiv), adding that only unity can help address their challenges and ensure development in the area.
He also described the Tiv Development Association (TIDA) in Nasarawa as a political association, which does not represent the interest of the Tiv people, noting that TIDA officials are out for monetary gains and not to fight for the interest of the Tiv people in the state.
Speaking earlier, the president of Mdzough U Tiv-Nasarawa State chapter, Mr Thomas Gaar, said herdsmen have displaced all the Tiv people in Nasarawa State, with a good number being killed, houses, and food items destroyed.
He said that efforts by the Tiv leaders in the state to come under one roof to address the challenges that had faced their subjects failed, with some of them taking sides with some forces in the state against the innocent Tiv farmers’ leadership.