Catholic Bishops, under the aegis of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), have called on the Federal Government to uphold the rule of law and obey court orders.
The bishops stated that as a matter of urgent public importance, the Federal Government should release, without delay, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh el Zakzaky; the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd). The three of them have been in detention over charges preferred against them by the Federal Government.
Although several courts have granted them different bails, the government has been adamant, refusing to release them.
The Bishops also called on the Federal Government to begin to uphold and protect the integrity of the judiciary by obeying court orders and pronouncements; and endeavour to free other Nigerians, who are unjustly languishing in detention across the country.
The demands were contained in the communiqué issued at the end of its first plenary meeting held at Daughters of Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre (DRACC), Abuja.
The conference was held between March 4 and 10. The Bishops, in a communiqué titled: “Nigeria: Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities” and obtained by New Telegraph yesterday, enjoined Nigerians to be patriotic, promote good neighbourliness and obey constituted authority.
The communiqué read in part: “We are aware of the indissoluble link between enjoyment of rights and exercise of duties. We, therefore, call for the corresponding responsibility of all to respect the rights of others.
“While urging the government to uphold the rule of law by obeying court orders, especially in relation to Sheikh el Zakzaky, Nnamdi Kanu, Col. Sambo Dasuki, and all those who are unjustly detained, we equally enjoin every Nigerian citizen to be patriotic, to promote good neighbourliness and to obey constituted authorities.”
In the communiqué cosigned by President CBCN, Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Ayau Kaigama and Bishop William Avenya (Diocese of Gboko), the Secretary of the CBCN, the bishops decried the level of gross human rights abuses in Nigeria. They stated that the dignity of every human person stems from the fact that he or she is created in the image and likeness of God.
“That dignity is inalienable. It can neither be detached from the personality of the individual nor taken away by anyone, not even by the state. “We affirm that the human person is an end and not a means. We insist, therefore, that the dignity of every Nigerian should be recognised, respected and protected by all,” the clerics stated.
The CBCN also called on the judiciary to rise up to its responsibility of not only being the last hope of the common man, but also the impartial and incorruptible arbiter for all.
The body of clergies urged government at all levels to regularly and promptly pay salaries and pensions to their workers and retirees in spite of the present economic hardship facing the country. According to the bishops, “The period of Lent presents before us the opportunity to return to God with fasting, prayers and acts of charity.
This is the time to stand together with one another and with God and work for a better Nigeria.
“The myriad of challenges our nation is facing obliges us to be more united to pray for the whole nation. Our democracy needs united and committed minds that can generate ideas that would walk us out of these hard times. “A nation cannot grow in the midst of chaos and ineptitude. We call on our politicians to patriotically invest more efforts in political dialogue,” the bishops said.