By ‘Tunde Olatunji
In the early hours of Tuesday, April24 , two (2) priests and about 14 worshipers were reportedly murdered in cold blood at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor-Mbalom, Benue State during the morning Mass. Barely 48hours later, another attack was reported to have claimed almost 13 lives simultaneously in different villages.
A wise man once said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act”.
The heinous act of sustained attacks and killings in Benue is outrageously evil, savagely cruel and grossly inhuman. It should be condemned in very strong terms by all Nigerians. At this point and rate, silence can no longer be golden!
The ceaseless massacre of innocent citizens, including pregnant women and children, are horrid nightmare that are abhorrent to any society.
Turning sacred places of worship into places of massacre? Turning homes into human slaughter slabs? How could anyone be capable of such monstrosities? The perpetrators and their sponsors must simply be fished out and brought to justice.
This is not just about Benue, this is terrorism in the land, a declaration of war on the Nigerian State and we must all rise in unison against this evil threatening our peaceful coexistence and unity as a people.
Yes, the government has done a lot in the war against insurgency and insecurity in the land, yet the government has a lot to do. It is the constitutional duty of every government to ensure the security of lives and properties of the citizens. Hence, government must continue to intensify efforts until there is restoration of peace in the land. Without peace, development is a mirage.
We acknowledge the sacrifices of our military and many of them have even paid the ultimate price in the course of waging war against this satanic forces. But, since terrorism is not a conventional war, it calls for our military to continually retool and re strategise for improved effectiveness.
However, military option alone will not solve this problem, it must be combined with alternatives to the military strikes and the armoured tanks.
Going by the varying comments of different stakeholders in the Benue region, there are multi- factors adduced to the killings and it is high time we called all stakeholders to a round table for enquiries and initiate serious reconciliation and peace building processes. There are always soft issues that define hard issues.
More so, we must develop effective alternative strategies that can hold wrongdoers to account, deter killings and crimes of all sorts, resolve conflicts, build peace and continuously support the police and other civil authorities in prompt response to crises.
Another key ingredient in ending this satanic invasion of our land is Patriotism. All forms of jaundiced ethnic, political and religious sentiments must stop. Most victims of these gruesome acts were innocent citizens, including children, who were never the beneficiaries of these myopic sentiments. Leaders must be accountable, citizens must be responsible.
The Government and people of Nigeria should know that the earlier we are able to put an end to all the killings and destructions in Benue and other parts of the country, the better for us.
In 1994, the genocide in Rwanda only lasted for 100days.Today, 24years later, the country still suffers from the damaging effects. Post crisis effects are real and unavoidable, we must be well prepared, with effective post crisis management mechanisms, for both the short and the long term economic, social, health and political implications.
Let’s continue to work and pray for the peace and prosperity of Nigeria.We will surely overcome.
Olatunji is member of the Osun State House of Assembly representing Ife North State Constituency.