Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, has accused those in power of fuelling banditry and terrorism in the country.
The fiery cleric made the allegation in his 2021 Easter message titled, ‘Before our glory departs’, on Sunday.
Kukah argued that banditry and kidnapping are increasing because those in power pay more attention to rehabilitating bandits and kidnappers than the victims.
He said there is collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart due to the activities of Boko Haram terrorists, kidnappers, bandits and armed robbers.
He said; “These criminals have waged war against their country, murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructure and rendered entire families permanently displaced and dislocated. Why should rehabilitating the perpetrator be more important than bringing succour to the victims?
“When kidnapped or killed, victims and their families are left to their wits. They cry alone, bury their loved ones alone. And our government expects us to be patriotic? The victims of violence need empathy, which the dictionary defines as the ability to understand and share the feelings of the other.
“A critical deficit of empathy on the side of the government makes healing almost impossible for the victims. We have not heard anything about a rehabilitation programme for the thousands of schoolchildren who have been victims of abduction.”
Kukah further expressed concern over the killing of security operatives and the “helplessness” of the citizens.
Reacting to the cleric’s Easter message, the Presidency said Kukah did not speak like a man of God.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu asked the Bishop to visit the North-East and ask residents if there is any improvement in security.
Shehu said Kukah played politics with some of his submissions in his message.
The statement read; “All citizens have their ideologies, even their versions of the truth. But if you profess to be a man of God, as Father Mathew Hassan Kukah does, ideology should not stand in the way of facts and fairness.
“Father Kukah has said some things that are inexplicable in his Easter message. But, in saying that the Boko Haram terrorism is worse than it was in 2015, he did not speak like a man of God. Kukah should go to Borno or Adamawa to ask the citizens there the difference between 2014 and 2021.
“Furthermore, the Hijab issue in Kwara State on which he dwelt is a state matter which the courts of the land have adjudicated. They are matters that have appeared in several states as far back as the Obasanjo administration. In all of that, when and where did the name of President Buhari feature?
“He is playing partisan politics by dragging the President into it. For the first time in the country’s history, an administration that has created a whole ministry, appropriating enormous resources to it, to deal with issues of internally displaced persons cannot, in all rightfulness, be accused of not caring for them.
“Some of the comments are no more than a sample of the unrestrained rhetoric Fr. Kukah trades in, which he often does in the guise of a sermon. We urge well-meaning citizens to continue to support the ongoing efforts by the administration to secure the country and move it forward.”