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Catholic Bishops have made a case for an end to the ‘indiscriminate sit-at-home orders’ being issued in the south-east zone, stressing that it has been damaging the local economies, culture and mental health of the people of the region.
The Eastern Updates reports that the Bishops under the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province made the call in a communique issued at the end of their meeting at Umuahia Diocesan Secretariat after they had ‘prayerfully deliberated on a number of issues of great concern to our people.’
‘We want to repeat this appeal again with more urgency,’ the Bishops cried out.
A fringe group within the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have continued to perpetuate and enforce the controversial Sit-at-Home orders frequently issued by the Finland-based self-styled Prime Minister of Biafra, Simon Ekpa.
But the high-ranking Catholic clerics vehemently denounced the sit-at-home form of protest in the South East, noting that it has ‘so far disrupted lives, paralysing economic, educational and commercial activities’.
The communique, which was read at the closing mass by the Bishop of Umuahia, Most Rev. Michael Ukpong, was signed by the Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, who is the Chairman and Bishop of Aba, Most Rev. Augustine Echeman, as Secretary.
Other Bishops in attendance include Most Rev. Solomon Amatu of Okigwe Diocese, Most Rev. Augustine Ukwuoma, Orlu, and the Archbishop Emeritus of Owerri Metropolitan, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna.
The Bishops lamented that the South East which ‘is extolled as the commercial hub of the nation is now bleeding from self-inflicted injuries as ‘traders in the region today are compelled to stay at home on Mondays, usually the busiest day of the week and the most productive for some.’
‘Events like traditional weddings, new yam festivals, funerals, Christmas and Easter celebrations, when our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora usually return home to be with their loved ones, are now being boycotted with people prioritising their security,’ it added.
In the communique entitled ‘Moving Beyond the Present Precipice’ the Catholic Bishops in the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province decried the present situation of things in the country, pointing out that it has been “a rough year so far for our people.”
According to them, the people’s hope for a new lease of life, following the transition to a new democratic dispensation, has been dashed with hasty and uncouth policies of government.
‘Over the last couple of months, Nigerians have continued to battle poverty, misery, high cost of living, and inflationary pressures exacerbated by the ripple effects of government policies.
‘Nigerians had not fully recovered from the shocks of the controversial Naira redesign policy that crippled businesses that made life and access to one’s own funds so difficult for many, when the subsidy on petroleum came into effect,’ the communique said.
Though the Bishops noted that the government policies, including the unification of the foreign exchange market, might have been made with good intentions, “their sudden and poor implementation has unleashed so much hardships on the people.”
Despite the past and present disheartening events, experiences and challenges confronting Nigerians, the Catholic Bishops encouraged people not to give in to despair.
They urged Nigerians to build hope and sustain the new wave of political awakening that manifested during the 2023 general election during which patriotic Nigerians across ethnic and religious lines collectively demanded, “a better Nigeria for all of us.”