A former military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, has called on all leaders and elder statesmen in Nigeria to come together for an urgent meeting on ways to end the killings across the country, especially in Benue and Borno states.
General Gowon who condemned the killings lamented that his heart bleeds at the rate at which innocent lives are lost including those of the Catholic priests murdered in Benue on Tuesday.
The former head of state spoke about the killings on Saturday in Owerri, the Imo State capital, when he visited Governor Rochas Okorocha ahead of the Nigeria Prays Group’s prayer rally in the South-East.
“Without Peace, certainly, we won’t be able to grow any further. And this is what has been retarding Nigeria recently,” General Gowon said.
“Let us continue to pray but let us also play our own part to ensure that we are doing whatever we can to achieve the peace.”
Governor Okorocha, on his part, said Nigerian must view the killings in Benue and other parts of the country as a national problem and rise to the challenge to tackle it irrespective of political ethnic and religious differences.
As things stand, very little progress has been made in terms of finding a solution to the violence and killings, according to the governor.
The governor said, “It started from Boko Haram, to herdsmen, to Niger Delta (militancy), to kidnapping. And his calls for serious concern, especially the recent one happening in Benue State. We don’t seem to be finding any solution – political or otherwise. Rather, we are all busy condemning the act.”
Since suspected herdsmen started 2018 by attacking communities in Benue State and killing over 73 people on the first day of the year, reports of killings have continued to dominate headlines.
Taraba, Plateau, and Zamfara states have also witnessed killings while Borno State continues to lose residents to attacks by Boko Haram.
On Tuesday this week, an attack on a Catholic church in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue resulted in the killings of 19 persons including two priests. Hours later, another attack was carried out in Guma LGA also in Benue with 13 lives claimed.
Beyond calling for a meeting of leaders to find solutions to the issue, General Gowon called for continued prayers. He and the Nigeria Prays Group, which he formed in 1996 intend to continue holding prayers in parts of the country’s problems.
The group is comprised of Christians, Muslims, and body of intercessors who have come together to hold joint prayers as well as offer supplications to God with the sole aim of helping seek divine supports for Nigeria’s problems.