STILL REFLECTING ON THE NECESSITY OF SELF DEFENCE
Never known for intellectual cowardice or duplicitous diplomacy, the Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese, Bishop Joseph Bagobiri said recently that it was a religious obligation binding on Christians to use, “moderate and proportionate force” to defend themselves against the onslaught on them by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, arguing that it was a biblical teaching.
He also said that Christian communities that observe absolute pacifism, have all ceased to exist.
Writing in the Vanguard news edition of Monday October 6th 2014, Luka Biniyat of the Kaduna State Bureau reported the former Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Kaduna state Chapter, as also coming down heavily on retired Generals from Southern Kaduna, where he alleged Fulani gunmen have killed several hundreds of persons since 2011. He described the act of reticence by Christians as, “gross act of irresponsibility.”
Bagobiri said this in his homily at a reception organised for the immediate past Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Engr Andy La'ah Yakubu, in Unguwan Wakili, Zangon Kataf Local Governenmt Area, LGA, in Southern part of Kaduna state.
The Bishop quoted extensively from the official Magisterium on legitimacy of self defence. The magisterium is the official teachings of the Church that have universal application.
Said Bagobiri: “The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it as an act of love towards one self; and carried out in defense of God's gift to life which we are merely custodians. The theological authorities of the Church are emphatic: Love towards oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality.
“Therefore, it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's'.
The Catholic Bishop vast in theology and philosophy went further deeper into his rich collections of theological researched materials to cite several authorities grounded in the universal teachings of the Catholic Church to support his affirmation that it is incumbent on man to do everything legitimate to defend his right to life.
Hear him: “The Magisterium is further explicit on this subject matter when it teaches that ' legitimate Defence can not only be a right but grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The Defence of the common good require than an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.
“It must be stated clearly here that in light of the above official church statement, that the exercise of self Defence does not amount to un-forgiveness, nor is it to be seen as an act of vengeance or vendetta”.
“Christians must do everything within their powers to protect their lives from being snuffed off by Satanist driven Islamic organisations. Christian communities that observe absolute pacifism have all ceased to exist, according to researchers into Christian persecution”.
This man of God who certainly enjoys widespread national and international respect for his reputation as a fearless advocate of social justice and for an egalitarian and liberal Nigerian society that upgrades the respect for right to life as sacrosanct, however did not treat the topic of why the authority of the Vatican City which obviously is a Sovereign entity recognized by the United Nations and with diplomatic presence in over one hundred countries does not have military facilities to defend the right to life of Christians. The Vatican City must go beyond the mere funding of a formidably well trained Swiss Guards made up of only very few troops that solely protects the Holy Father to the arena of amassing military force to defend not only her territorial integrity but to defend the right to life of Christians working through the United Nations Security Council framework in partnership with the five permanent members. If the Vatican City can not embark on this military adventure then it has to more seriously play active diplomatic role of mounting global pressure on the international community to use all means necessary to protect threatened minority tribes and religious communities across the globe and especially in those territories that armed Islamists have declared total war against the existence of such human persons.
In my over two decades of human rights activism, I also think that the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Nigerian constitution [chapter four] which all support RIGHT TO LIFE of human persons will definitely not be in support of a stupid fallacy of not allowing citizens bear arms legally to defend this sacred right to life only for some irrational arms bearing beasts to roam around freely in all corners of the country using all violent means to eliminate them [innocent citizens] from the physical World.
Incidentally, this powerful teaching of Bishop Joseph Bagobiri who I have personal knowledge of came about the same time that the newspapers were also awash with the admonition of President Good Luck Jonathan who defended the Islamic Religion against the popular charge that majority of the adherents who are of the radical school of thought supports nihilism and terrorism. The Good Luck Jonathan's acclaimed defence of the Islamic Religion is clearly an attempt by the President to play to the gallery of diplomacy. I too in my moment of soberly diplomacy have also played to the same duplicitous diplomatic fallacious gallery which over time has come under unprecedented attacks by the adherents who themselves have done just the opposite and have continued to paint their religion in notorious light. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] the most dangerous terror organization globally as well as the terrorists in Somalia and Northern Nigeria have all but painted graphic pictures of irrational animals who have killed thousands of human beings of other religions just for not accepting their bloody and radical dimension of their religion. President Jonathan is therefore not alone in this innocuous attempt at pacifism because yours truly has in the past written a widely circulated and published piece stating that Islam is not the same as Terrorism in an article I then titled ”ISLAM AND TERRORISM: ANY NEXUS?”. I based my judgment from my close observations of the lifestyles of some of my Moslem friends with whom we grew up in Northern Nigeria. But current trends in internal and global terrorism in which many radical Moslems have clearly read out their manifesto for committing varying degrees of despicable and gruesome criminal acts of beastly brutality and anarchy as their own way of spreading their brand of Islam have all but contradicted this humble perception I had shared just like what President Jonathan just did while celebrating the big Sallah of 2014 in which his government declared two days holiday outside the Weekend religious event.
How do we justify our acclaimed belief that the Religion of Islam abhors violence and terrorism given that the preponderant percentage of violent terrorists around the World including Nigeria have appeared severally in the online media and television that operate in the Western World to interrogate our perception that Islam is not a religion of violence. Whilst I have no intention of changing my perception that Islam preaches peace, I also think that Bishop Bagobiri's well articulated and clearly written defence of the right to life and the need to defend it by all means legitimate is germane. This again brings us to my earlier article I penned down asking that the right to own firearms by all and sundry especially persons that have passed the medical test of sanity and are persons of unquestionable character must be revisited and supported because it is primitive to continue to insist that people will not be tolerated to bear legal arms but many hoodlums wielding sophisticated arms and ammunition are busy having field days and killing, maiming and destroying lives and property of the citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria while the Federal and State Governments looks on without taking constitutional and legal means to bring to an end these episodes of violence and bloody terrorism. It is indeed a UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHT FOR NIGERIANS TO INDIVIDUALLY DEFEND THEIR RIGHT TO LIFE.
Written by Emmanuel Onwubiko, heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.