The Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah, has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for accepting the report of the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy and granting pardon to about 150 Nigerians serving various jail terms.
Mr Kukah made the commendation in his Easter message delivered at a mass service on Sunday, in Sokoto.
He said another challenge was to immediately free all innocent Nigerians held captive and whose only crime was that they were living in Nigeria.
“With the news of the purchase of new sophisticated weapons, we hoped that the President and the military would quickly roll out a strategy for rooting out this cancer that had afflicted our country.
“The general feeling was that the military had the capacity to end this tragedy. In reality, the military cannot fire beyond the radar set by their Commander-in-Chief.
“If the President can end this tragedy, he would immediately get the support of all citizens and hopefully leave office with his head held high,” Mr Kukah said.
He lamented the increased cases of kidnapping, banditry and other criminality and stressed the need for collective efforts against the menace.
He advised the President to concede that it was within his powers to decide how we are going to end the war that had engulfed and was tearing down our nation.
“It seems that the federal government had shown far greater commitment to integrating so called repentant terrorists than getting our children back from kidnappers or keeping our universities open.
“Earlier last month, Operation Safe Corridor announced that it had graduated 599 members of various terrorist groups who had acquired new skills and were now ready to be integrated into society.
“The total comes to over a thousand now. It is plausible to note that the programme involved psychosocial support, rehabilitation, vocational training, skill acquisition and start-ups.
“The larger issue is that their various communities had expressed their reluctance to receive their erring sons back.
“As a priest, I cannot be against a repentant sinner or criminals changing their ways. After all, the doors of forgiveness must always remain open.
“However, in this case, Nigerians have very little information as to the entire rehabilitation processes,” he noted.
The Bishop urged religious leaders to strive toward recovery of cordial living among community members and deploying their moral authority as well as avoid falling victim to the schemes of politicians and their material enticements.
“The values of Interfaith dialogue had come under severe strain and pressure with extremists from both sides of our faiths denigrating the idea of dialogue with their counterparts of other faiths.
“Ignorance and miseducation had combined with prejudice to create the falsehood that somehow, one religion is superior to the others.
“With so many ill-equipped fraudsters posing as religious leaders, there is an obsession with defaming the others and widening our differences,” Mr Kukah said.
He explained that the greatest challenge now was how to begin a process of reconstructing our nation hoping that we can hang on and survive the 2023 elections.
“The real challenge before us now is to look beyond politics and face the challenge of forming character and faith in our country.
“Here, leaders of religion, Christianity and Islam, need to truthfully face the role of religion in the survival of our country.
“The Nigerian Constitution has very clearly delineated the fine boundaries between religion and politics. Yet many politicians continue to behave as if they are presiding over both the political and the spiritual realms in their states rather than governing in a democracy,” the Bishop added.
The Bishop urged Nigerians to remain steadfast in prayers towards overcoming the challenges.
He stressed that in the 2023 elections there need for increased vigilance to elect credible persons that would work toward ensuring a better country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Kukah relayed the virtues of Easter in Christ and enjoined adherents to practice with a good heart and obedience.