·        Calls for restraint

The Catholic Bishop of Orlu diocese, Most Rev Augustine Ukkwuoma has expressed concern over the alarming rate of insecurity in Orlu and environ which has culminated in incessant killings, harassment, torture burning of houses and properties of innocent law abiding residents by security operatives and some yet to be identified gunmen.

The Prelate in a release he signed, dated April  19, 2022 with the caption “Respect the sanctity of human Life” said, “ It seems that despite all our numerous interventions to find solutions to the quagmire that has engulfed our Land, especially our beloved Orlu and environs, including our collective callfor prayer for the restoration of peace in the region under the Diocese of Orlu. The violence that hits spread through Orlu has continued relentlessly.

“On Easter Sunday. April 17. 2022, while the Diocese, united with Christians all over the world, was commemorating the holiest Day in the Church’s Calendar, the Solemnity of the Easter that celebrates the Resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in itself is a protest against death and against all threats and agents of death, a rash of violence swept through the popular banana junction, Amaifeke and Okporo which resulted in the loss of innocent lives and property.

“The duties of our Pastoral Office as Chief Shepherd compel us to speak up again and condemn this incessant reign of terror in strong and unequivocal terms. At the same time, we address a personal and direct appeal to the consciences of all those behind this incident, including all state and non-state actors. When will must all these come to an end? Must this reign of violence, bloodshed, wanton destruction of property that has forced our people to live in constant state of fear and anxiety both at home and on the highway continue unabated? Has enough innocent blood not been shed in our land that until recent times has remained an abode of peace and a safe haven for strangers and all sorts of refugees? Enough is Enough.

 “Whatever goal anyone wants to achieve is not worth this wanton and indiscriminate shedding of the blood of our innocent citizens. The time has come for all to sheath their swords and engage in seeking for constructive ways out of this quagmire that is almost threatening our existence as a people and as a society. Violence and more brutal force don’t appear to be the solution to this problem.”

He wondered why the perpetrators of the dastardly act, decided to do so on Easter Sunday, a day set aside by Christendom for sober reflection on the celebration of victory of life  over death, of love over hatred, of forgiveness over thirst for revenge and vengeance. “We call upon all state and non-state actors to re­-examine their consciences and think of the pain they cause families by their behaviour. We earnestly appeal to security agencies to use only commensurate and legitimate means to maintain peace and to exercise restraint in the face of provocation. We also appeal to all to desist from utterances and actions that could lead to violent confrontation.

“We deeply commiserate with all the victims of this sad incident and many such incidents that have become our regular experiences. To those who are dead, we will continue to pray for them to rest in the Lord. May the good Lord accept the shedding of their blood as a vicarious offering for the cleansing of our land! To those who have been left- orphans and widows etc, we continue to extend our pastoral charity and concern and to pray that they be consoled.

“For our dear Orlu land that is gradually becoming a symbolism for evil and darkness, for Imo State and for Nigeria in general, we pray for the return of peace and tranquility. As darkness is overcome by the Paschal Light of Easter, may violence and crime give way to harmony and serenity! May the glory of Easter dispel all darkness in our lives and illuminate us always with the salvific power of the Risen Christ!”