By Ogbonna Casmir
Catholic Bishops of Nigeria has called on federal government to uphold the rule of law by obeying court orders especially in relation to Sheikh El Zakzaky, Nnamdi Kanu, Col. Sambo Dasuki, as well as those who are unjustly detained across the country.
The Bishops who made this call in a Communiqué released at the end of its first plenary meeting held at Daughters of Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre (DRACC), titled: “Nigeria: Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities”; red in all Catholic parishes last Sunday a copy our correspondent obtained enjoining Nigerians to be patriotic, promote good neighbourliness and obey any constituted authority.
In the communiqué co-signed by President CBCN, Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Ayau Kaigama along with Bishop William Avenya, (Diocese of Gboko and) Secretary of the CBCN, the body of the clergy declared the gross human right abuse in Nigeria, stressing 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”, while calling 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”.
Part of the communiqué reads: “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 any constituted authority.
“We invite 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. In spite of the present economic hardship in our country, government at all levels should regularly and promptly pay salaries and pensions to their workers and retirees respectively. We use this opportunity to commend those state governments which regularly pay salaries and pensions. We encourage other state governments to emulate these good examples. At the same time, eligible citizens are urged to pay their taxes as at when due.
“A culture of respect for human rights and dignity requires a concerted effort. We therefore call on all citizens to support good policies of government and work towards a humane society. We should revisit some civic policies that oiled the wheels of our national growth. Such policies include Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), War Against Indiscipline (WAI), Prison Welfare, National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), functional street lights, and installation of CCTV cameras, registration of SIM Cards, among others”.
The bishops also urged the faithful to use this Lent period as an 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. At this point of our national history, we need a greater spirit of solidarity and sharing of our resources especially to those mostly in need, the poor.
“We passionately call on all persons of good will to sincerely eschew all forms of violent religious extremism and embrace the civilisation of love. Finally, we repeat what we said on December 1, 1998 as the country prepared to return to democracy. “If we must stay together as Nigerians, we must imbibe a true democratic culture, embrace the principle of popular democracy, respect the fundamental rights of every citizen, including the freedom of association, the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press, the right to dissent, the right to basic amenities of life, and the right to aspire to any and every office in the land”, it reads.