After the sorrow of an April massacre in southeastern Nigeria, a Catholic bishop said the killers of dozens of people must still be forgiven.
“Although we may find it hard to forgive the violent attack that has brought us so much grief, we know that an unforgiving spirit will never bring us peace,” Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka said at a burial service for nine of the victims.
In April, invaders suspected to be Fulani herdsmen attacked the Nimbo community in the locality of Uzo-Uwani in southeastern Nigeria’s Enugu State. They killed scores of people, slaughtered livestock and destroyed several properties, including a Catholic church.
The bishop encouraged mourners to “turn to God in gratitude, with faith, hope and charity,” the Catholic News Agency of Africa reports. He prayed that the region will never witness a similar tragedy.
“Our faith assures us that those who die in the Lord are freed from the sorrows of this life and rest forever in the calm security of God’s love in heaven,” he said.
His comments came at a June 17 burial service held for nine of the victims at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Nimbo. Attendees at the memorial service included Anglican pastors and scores of Catholic clergy,
“Since that dark and terrible Monday, April 25, 2016, we have been in tears and in sorrow,” Bishop Onah continued. “How often have we wished the whole thing were just a bad dream from which we would soon wake?”
He prayed that the charity and solidarity of the community will “help us to overcome our bitterness.”
“We are grateful to God, our merciful Father, that some of us are still alive today to bury and mourn our dead,” he said. He suggested that if the attackers had their way, they would have killed everyone.
“We also thank God for the way in which he has shown us his love in these months of pain and sorrow, through the constant presence and help of persons, institutions and organizations from far and near,” the bishop added. “May he continue to bless all those who have allowed themselves to be used as instruments of his love and consolation.”
Bishop Onah called on the government not to consider laws that would deprive farmers of their farmland and sustenance to provide grazing grounds for Fulani cattle herdsmen.
He also warned that criminal elements appear to be using the cattle herdsmen “as a cover for penetrating many villages and perpetrating heinous crimes.”
Enugu State’s Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi attended the burial service. He told mourners that such killings will never happen again.