Terrorists Honoured Above Loyal Nigerian Citizens By Matthews Otalike in Sokoto It seems that the federal government of Nigeria has shown greater commitment to integrating so called repentant terrorists than getting our children back from kidnappers or keeping our universities open. The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah stated this in his 2022 Easter message to the people in his homily at the Holy Family Cathedral Sokoto during the Easter vigil Mass. He said earlier last month, the armed forces Operation Safe Corridor announced the graduation of about 600 members of various terrorist groups who have acquired new skills and are now ready to be integrated into society. The total comes to over a thousand now. He said, “It is plausible to note that the programme involves pyscho-social support, rehabilitation, vocational training, skill acquisition and start-ups. Despite all this, the larger issue is that their various communities have expressed the reluctance to receive their erring sons back. Nigerians have no access to the transcripts of the texts of the confessions of these terrorists not to talk of evidence of their commitment to not sin again. We have only the words of the terrorists and the same military that they have been fighting a war with. It speaks volumes when the President and his military hierarchy choose to believe these young men who took up arms and for years waged war against their country, killed, maimed and wasted thousands of lives, destroyed entire communities and now, they are being housed, fed, clothed with public funds. All this while their victims have been forced to make the various IDP camps their new homes! Where is the justice for the victims and the rest of the country they have destroyed?” As a priest, the Bishop said, he is not against a repentant sinner or criminals changing their ways. After all, the doors of forgiveness must always remain open. “However, in this case, Nigerians have very little information as to the entire rehabilitation processes. Have these terrorists felt the heat or have they seen the light or, is their repentance a mere strategic and tactical repositioning? So far, we have no evidence that these terrorists have been able to confront their victims not to talk of seeking forgiveness from them. Something is wrong. We see these terrorists adorned in our national colours in their green and white kaftans, trousers, and looking like heroes of the state! Are we to assume that they have become acknowledged models for Nigerian youth? Perhaps the next graduating set might be treated to Presidential handshakes, receptions at the villa with full national colours!” The Bishop recalled that, “Only last week, as if in delayed solidarity, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, in a Statement stated that: ‘It appears that the continuous callous acts of mayhem, killings and arson happening almost on daily or weekly bases around us; either within communities or on the roads we ply, has automatically reset our human psyche that we now have accepted such dastardly acts as part of our lives, to the extent that we no longer feel it….Any government that is incapable of protecting the lives of its citizens has lost the moral justification of being there in the first place….our humanity is being eroded and that erosion is become a new normal.’ Similarly, the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, and the House of Representatives have finally called on the President to resign since, in their view, it is now clear that he cannot protect his citizens. This has come three years after the Catholic Bishops’ Statement issued on April 26th, 2018 made the same call that was greeted with cynicism.” In his words: “The challenge of fixing this broken nation is enormous and, as I have said, requires joint efforts. With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy. Our individual hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. Churches, Mosques, infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken. Our children’s lives and future are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our Roads and Rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well. So, we ask with the Psalmist, We look up to the hills, from where shall come our help? Our help shall come from the name of the Lord (Ps. 121:2). Speaking truth to power, Bishop Kukah said 2023 beckons and the stage is set. “The challenge is whether we have learnt any lessons from the tragedy that has afflicted us in the last few years. The Presidency of Nigeria is not a human right based on ethnic, religious or regional sentiments. The next President of Nigeria must be a man or woman with a heart, a sense of empathy and a soul on fire that can set limits to what human indignities visited on citizens that he or she can tolerate. We have no need for any further empty messianic rhetoric laced with deceitful and grandiose religiosity. We need someone who can fix our broken nation, rid our people of the looming dangers of hunger and destitution. Our Presidential aspirants must show evidence from their legacies and antecedents that they know the country well enough and its severe wounds. Whoever wants to govern us must illustrate that he or she understands what has turned our nation into a national hospital and show us plans for our discharge from this horror.” Support for INEC and its infrastructure is fundamental to a free and fair election and all well-meaning Nigerians must condemn in very strong terms all those criminals who continue to threaten the society with violence. They should meet the full force of the law. Bishop Kukah thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for accepting the report of the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy and granting pardon to over 150 Nigerians serving various terms of imprisonment. The more serious challenge he added is to immediately free all innocent Nigerians who are held captive and whose only crime is that they are living in Nigeria. “With the news of the purchase of new sophisticated weapons”, the Bishop added, “we hope that the President and the military will quickly roll out a strategy for routing this cancer that has afflicted our country. The general feeling is that the military has the capacity to end this tragedy. In reality, the military cannot fire beyond the radar set by their commander-in-chief. If the President can end this tragedy, he will immediately get the support of all citizens and hopefully leave office with his head held high.” “We cannot end this Message without sparing a thought for the untold sufferings being experienced by the people of Ukraine as a result of the invasion of their country by Russia. We turn in prayer to the Lord to touch the hearts and minds of those in power and in position to reverse this avoidable loss of human lives. May the spirit of the resurrected Christ and the appeals of all men and women of good will help to bring an end to this human tragedy. “Finally, in the last few years, my Messages have been borne out of a sense of moral revulsion over how life has been destroyed in my country. No country anywhere in the world is undergoing these self-inflicted wounds, citizens randomly murdering innocent citizens and getting away with it. For me as a Christian, there is a minimum threshold of human indignity that I can live with because the reason why Jesus came is so that all of us will have life and have it to the full (Jn. 10:10). We must shout at what diminishes any and every life in our society. Once human dignity is respected and restored, we will change our tone, but for now, our voice must have a sense of urgency. We Christians believe that to redeem the world, Christ allowed His body to be broken. We know He can heal out broken nation. May the light of His resurrection scatter the clouds and rout the men of evil, inspire a new birth in our dear nation and restore us to wholeness.” In finding our way forward, the President must concede that it is within his powers to decide how we are going to end the war that has engulfed and is tearing down our nation.