By Charles Igwe
In a recent development, Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, who holds the positions of Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Owerri, Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara, and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), voiced his resolute appeal on Sunday. This appeal was made during a pastoral visit, conducted to inaugurate the Mary Mother of God Catholic Parish in Upe, within the Ngor Okpala local council area of Imo State.
Archbishop Ugorji’s appeal was as a result of the ultimatum set by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanding the reinstatement of deposed President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger. This development has cast uncertainty over both the nation and the broader West African region, prompting questions about the subsequent course of action.
Archbishop Ugorji directed his appeal to ECOWAS Chair and Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, urging him to advise fellow ECOWAS members to adopt a more diplomatic stance regarding the unfolding crisis in Niger. This situation has met with resistance from Nigerians at large, who are apprehensive about the potential escalation that could impact their nation and the wider West African vicinity.
Seeking a Peaceful Resolution
“As the meeting concluded, the ECOWAS Heads of States issued a one-week ultimatum to the coup plotters, demanding the restoration of democratic leadership in Niger or facing the prospect of military intervention. This ultimatum reached its expiration today,” conveyed the Archbishop from Owerri to the parishioners. He proceeded, “While it is valid to assert that altering government by force is inappropriate, we also firmly believe that shedding precious human blood is equally unjustifiable. Engaging in two wrongs can never yield a right,” emphasized Archbishop Ugorji.
Archbishop Ugorji earnestly beseeched President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene, urging the ECOWAS Heads of States to resist the inclination towards military conflict with the coup plotters. He implored them to avert the impending loss of lives that such military intervention might trigger. The Archbishop of Owerri expressed, “A significant amount of human blood has been needlessly spilled in Africa, and we have also lost precious lives in Nigeria due to these circumstances. This pattern cannot persist, regardless of the reasons behind it.”
“While we steadfastly oppose coup d’état, we also categorically reject war, regardless of its justification. Manipulating election results is also akin to a subtle form of coup d’état. ECOWAS Heads of States are humbly urged to reflect on the organization’s future implications if they opt for military intervention in Niger,” urged Ugorji.
The call for peace and diplomacy echoes strongly in Archbishop Ugorji’s appeal, underlining the imperative of preserving human lives and safeguarding the region from further turmoil.