“We cannot leave the fight against insecurity in the hands of government alone” – Bishop Onaga
…as thousands gather for Late Fr. Paul’s burial
The Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. CallistusOnaga has called for an all inclusive fight against crime in the country. while addressing Journalists after the burial of Late Fr. Paul Offu today, 20th August 2019 at Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu, Bishop Onaga emphasized on the need for Nigerians to take ownership of their security and not just live it in the hands of the Government and security agencies.
Late Fr. Paul Offu, the former Parish Priest of St. James the Greater Parish, Ugbawka, was murdered in cold blood by suspected Fulani Herdsmen on the evening of August 1 along Ihe-Agbudu Road in Awgu LGA in an attempt to kidnap him for ransom. Some of the assailants have been apprehended and paraded by the Police.
His Lordship who acknowledged the efforts made by the state Government in checking the increasing crime in the country with the almost daily kidnap incidents in many communities in the state, said the Governor Ugwuanyi led administration is not complacent in his approach to tackling insecurity in the state.
“Humanly speaking, he (Governor Ugwuanyi) is doing his best in everyway, because what has really come into the country is general. As we can observe, is not just happening here but in other parts of the country.
“The only peculiarity with this one is that it is a little bit too often. He is doing everything ,he has made efforts to make sure that those who commit these atrocities do not really go free which should be a kind of deterrent to all those who are involved in this kind of heinous crime.
“The Governor is not complacent; he is doing his best in trying to check this insecurity in this state. Moreover, he has put certain things in place to make sure that this thing is nipped in the bud before it happens again. That is to say, they will like to be pro active, proactive then means to prevent, because usually they say prevention is better than cure. he is making sure that whoever commits crime does not go free. However, at the same time he is making it possible to prevent such crimes as far as humanly possible. We must stress that”, His Lordship said.
On the dimension insecurity has taken in the state and the country as well as the now notorious suspected killer herdsmen who are widely reported to be behind most kidnappings and gruesome killings in the country, His Lordship said;
“Like I said, it is a hydra headed problem which is really engulfing the whole of Nigeria, its a thing that everybody has to come together to really fight. Those who are committing this crime are part of the system. We are talking about the killer Fulani herdsmen, who actually are the ones perpetrating this evil. They are doing it for whatever agenda they have.
“We have had other Fulani Herdsmen that have been very peaceful living with the citizens of every other state including Enugu state.
“There are other people who commit crime under this big criminals, kidnappers are not only Fulani Herdsmen , but they at times hide under them.
“Majority of what we’re experiencing now is that we have this violent wicked herdsmen who are really not herdsmen but people who may have some kind of objective that we do not know, is not yet spelt out but to make things impossible for the people of this country to live and then Enugu in particular to live.
“So please as much as possible they should be checked. And I continue to tell our own people, let us as much as we can try to work with the Government and security agencies. The church can work through prayers and then the church can help through acts of humanitarian solidarity.”
Bishop Onaga further called on communities not to be cowed into submission through intimidation. He urged them to be strong and firm to defend their territory in the midst of the daily threats they face.
“Communities should come out, if you hear your brother crying, come out, don’t be so much afraid because they have their guns and everything. Yes, they have these guns and you’re not equipped, but the common will of the people can really disarm them, let us not just be running away. I have said it time without number, maybe the whole objective is to intimidate and frighten people to lose their confidence.
“This should not be allowed to take hold of us. We cannot seize to exist because there are few wicked people.
“So what I am telling everyone is that we have to come out and tell them no, we cannot really hide in our own state and country.
“I’ve always pleaded, when things like this happen and the government and all security apparatus seem to be overwhelmed, we run to God , he is the ultimate defender and custodian of our lives. If we pray to him and believe in him, he will help”, His Lordship assured.
Meanwhile, in the burial mass homily, the Parish Priest of Holy Innocent Parish, Amagunze, Nkanu East, Rev. Fr. Sylvester Nwodo described the Late Fr. Paul as an honorable and excellent Priest, who was an epitome of humility.
According to him, Fr. Paul was consumed with the passion for God’s work that made him to live a gigantic footprint in his Pastoral and structural work.
Further extolling the virtues of late Fr. Paul, Fr. Sylvester called him a lover of soul who led a life centred on conquering souls for Christ.
Fr. Nwodo lamented the continued attack on Priests, said that the diocese have convened again within a short period to bid farewell to another priest.
“Fr Paul since his ordination in August 1999, has worked vigorously in many dioceses and also held capacity positions in the diocese and denary where he worked. Our diocese is in great mourning. Today, we have convened again in short time to bid farewell to another great Apostle of our diocese who have died in the hands of Fulani herdsmen”, he said.
In an emotional reaction, Late Fr. Paul’s bosom friend and classmate, Rev. Fr. Stanley UgochukwuMmaduechesi described the Late Fr. Paul as a dependable friend who always respond when called upon.
He said having joined the junior seminary together in 1982 and later ordained Priests on 14th August 1999, Late Fr. Paul lived out the true meaning of humility and selflessness. He however regretted that he was not alive to celebrate their 20th year as Priests.
In attendance are the Emeritus Bishop of Enugu Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. Anthony Gbuji, Bishop of Awgu diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. Ifeanyichukwu John Okoye, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state, his deputy, Barr. Cecelia Ezeilo, and many other government functionaries.
May God repose the soul of Fr. Paul.