The priests and members of the three Catholic Dioceses in Enugu State, Nsukka, Awgu and Enugu, on Saturday, turned out in their thousands for peaceful mass rallies tagged “Diocesan peaceful prayerful protest march”, as they protested the violent activities of herdsmen in the state and expressed their anger at the menace posed by herdsmen.
It was reported that the Enugu Catholic diocese shelved its plan to march to the Government House, where they intended to deliver a petition to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The Diocese had earlier announced that it would march from the Holy Ghost Cathedral, through the streets of Enugu metropolis, to the Government House on Saturday. But the planned march failed to hold after Ugwuanyi and some members of the state executive council visited the church.
It was learnt that the church leadership called off the march after they were informed of an alleged plan by miscreants including pro-Biafra activists, to hijack the event and use the protest march to cause a breakdown of law and order.
While addressing the Catholic faithfuls at the cathedral during the visit, Governor Ugwuanyi said his administration was determined to protect lives and property in the state.
He said, “On the issues you have raised in this rally, I wish to state that I address you today not only as a Catholic but as your governor and the Chief Security Officer of Enugu State. While taking my oath of office, I swore to do everything within my powers to preserve the security of lives and property of the people of Enugu State.
“You can therefore be assured that I will not fail in this responsibility and be further assured that whatever message you convey through me to the appropriate authorities at Abuja, will be promptly delivered.”
The church also made known its opposition to the proposed grazing bill in a joint press statement read by the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Rt. Rev. Callistus Onaga, and the bishops of Awgu and Nsukka dioceses.
“The free grazing of cattle in our area has now become a threat not only to the growing of crops, which is the mainstay of our sedentary people, but also to our lives. The nomadic lifestyle makes policing and the pursuit of criminals much more complex and hazardous, while providing terrorists like Boko Haram operatives with ready cover for penetrating every nook and cranny of our country,” the statement said.