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CATHOLIC BISHOPS ADVOCATE AMNESTY WITH JUSTICE
The Bishops of the Catholic Church in Nigeria have warned against the granting of blanket amnesty to members of the Boko Haram terrorist group describing such an act as an endorsement of criminality. They however support the granting of amnesty premised on equity and justice.
 
 
The position of the bishops was made known by the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama during a press conference held at the Daughters of Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre (DRACC), Lugbe, Abuja, yesterday.
 
In a statement titled: To Rescue Nigeria From Collapse and signed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama and Bishop William Avenya, President and Secretary of the Conference respectively, the bishops noted the various initiatives to resolve the Boko Haram issues such as the Amnesty Committee; but insisted that “genuine amnesty should mean offering pardon to repentant militants and not appeasing criminals and their sponsors to stay calm.”
 
 
While expressing the hope that the state of emergency declared in some states of the country might achieve the desired objectives, the bishops urged government to energise the country’s justice system “such that adequate and speedy punishment for crime could serve as a deterrent to impunity.” They called on the Federal government to continue “to explore the most effective means of dialogue with a view to restoring our country to normalcy.”
 
 
Tracing the genesis of the Boko Haram crisis in the country the Bishops noted: “What started as a mere clash between law enforcement agencies and members of the Islamic sect commonly labelled Boko Haram, has since spiraled into what can, be best described as a low-intensity war especially in some northern states of the country.” They alerted: “Taken together with a range of other crises in other parts of the country such as armed robbery, kidnapping, communal clashes, our country now almost totters on the brink.”
 
 
Pointing out that the magnitude of the crisis has been staggering and overwhelming, the bishops added: “Families have been wiped out, communities displaced and now refugees and internally displaced persons roam the Nigerian landscape.” They further stated: “Everyday, we hear more and more ugly stories of death and destruction in the land. Sadly, the entire apparatus of state security seems totally overwhelmed by the agents of darkness.”
 
 
Suggesting the way out, the bishops, among other things stressed the importance of prayer noting that it remains an indispensable means for restoring the country to normalcy. About fourteen bishops from different parts of the country were at the media briefing.

 

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