Tears As Murdered Priests, Parishioners Are Buried In Benue

The two Catholic priests and 17 parishioners slain by suspected herdsmen on April 24 in Benue State were buried on Tuesday amid nationwide peaceful protest by the Catholic faithful.

The two priests, Rev Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, and 17 members of the congregation while killed during an early morning mass at St. Ignatius Catholic Church at Ayar Mbalom in the Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.

The 19 were given a mass burial on Tuesday at Se Sugh Maria Pilgrimage Centre, Ayati Ikpayongo in Benue State.

In attendance was the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who conveyed President Muhammadu Buhari’s condolence message to the Catholic Church and the people of Benue.

Osinbajo, while lamenting the killing, said though nothing could be done to restore the lives of the slain, “we can ensure justice for them by apprehending and punishing the assailants.”

He added, “What manner of man is he that wakes up in the morning determined to kill innocent men and women? Surely, such one has lost his peace; he is to be condemned and cursed but perhaps, he deserves our pity even more.

“But what do we owe the dead today? What do we owe these 19 who died in Benue and the very many others who have been killed here? We cannot bring them back but we can provide succour and comfort for those that they left behind.

“We can ensure justice for them by apprehending and punishing the assailants. We must rebuild the many places that have been damaged and heal the wounds that have been caused.”

Osinbajo said there was a need to “rebuild and revamp our security system of law enforcement to ensure that all that live and work in this land are safe, (and) most importantly, we must and will stop these senseless killings.”

But on Tuesday, the Christian Association of Nigeria called on Buhari to suspend his second term ambition, till he had addressed and stopped the killings by herdsmen.

CAN, in a statement by its spokesman, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, said, “While CAN is not opposed to the President’s exercise of his civic right by seeking re-election for the second time, we urge him to halt it for now and attend to the security problems occasioned by the criminal activities of the terrorists, herdsmen and bandits.

“CAN asks President Buhari to suspend his re-election bid until he restores sanity to the country while ensuring the release of Leah Sharibu, the remaining Chibok girls and other hostages from the captivity of the Boko Haram terrorists.”