The bishops, who spoke against the backdrop of Friday’s attempt on the life of John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, said the appeal became urgent following the brazenness with which the herdsmen commit atrocities in the state without adequate security checks.
Cardinal Onaiyekan was attacked by suspected herdsmen along the Benin-Ekpoma road on his way from where he went to attend the 10 years anniversary of the enthronement of Akubueze as a bishop and also to attend the 10 years anniversary of the Diocese Uromi.
“We thank God that Cardinal Onaiyekan survived the attacks of some criminals elements last week on the Benin-Ekpoma road. If something had happened to him, what would have been the story? We thank God nothing happen and we are using this opportunity to appeal to Mr. President to provide adequate security for the citizens of Edo state,” Akubueze said, in an interview in Benin City.
The Catholic archbishop stressed that the responsibility of a government is to secure her people stressing that “what we are asking for is not too much for our president. If there is no security of lives and property, no investments or meaningful economic development can take place in the state and the nation at large. We need security and we are demanding that from our government”.
Akubueze noted that the spate of attacks by so-called herdsmen across the country “is becoming frightening,” adding that “there is an urgent need by the state and federal government to deal with the issue of security to protect lives and property of Nigerians “with all seriousness”.
Reacting to Cardinal Onaiyekan’s attack, Bishop Ogun said “What would have happened if the Cardinal was killed? It would have been sorry and pains for us, considering that he was coming to attend the 10th anniversary of the creation of Uromi Diocese. We thank God he came out unhurt”.
While appealing strongly to President Buhari to help secure the state, the bishop added “we need adequate security to protect the lives and property of the residents of the state. We cannot continue to live in fear in our own land because of the activities of these criminals”.
Recounting the ordeal, the driver to Onaiyekan who simply identified himself as Segun said, the attack happened along the Benin-Ekpoma road close to Ehor at about 5.00pm last Friday.
According to him “We left Benin for Uromi and at about 5.00pm on the fateful day, I think very close to Ehor, I saw a big pothole and decided to slow down the vehicle. I would have passed the spot with speed but because the cardinal was sleeping, I decided to slow down the vehicle so that he won’t wake up, suddenly, I saw three men came out of the palm tree plantation by the road side and started shooting at the vehicle. I look ahead of me, two of them were firing from a distance at the vehicle and I looked behind me another one was firing at the vehicle from behind so I decided to use reverse gear. The other vehicles who saw me coming with reverse started clearing off the road and when I got to a safe distance I decided to stop the vehicle and people started running to see what had happened. It was then we realised that the bullets shattered the left passenger window glass and made huge holes on the panel of the door. We just thank God nothing happened to the cardinal or any of us in the vehicle”.