John Cardinal Onaiyekan
BY SUNNY A. DAVID
Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has called on the federal government to grant amnesty to people in Nigerian prisons and not just to bandits.
Speaking in television programme on Wednesday, the clergyman warned the government to make sure bandits have truly repented before giving them amnesty. He said though he believes criminals should be forgiven when they repent, there is a problem of figuring out if they have truly repented or not.
“I believe firmly in what the Bible says that it is not the will of God that a sinner should die but that he should repent and live.
“So obviously, if a criminal sincerely repents, he should be forgiven. But the question is when it comes to the real facts of whether he has repented or not, the State must have a way of making sure that this is not a joke,” Onaiyekan stated.
“The whole idea of amnesty is not only to be applied to armed bandits, in that case it is true for everybody in jail in Nigeria. For the sake of law and order, to protect the rest of us, the few who are making life difficult have to be restrained. The armed dogs should be tied down. The armed bandits should be disarmed.
“Before we talk of amnesty, there should be clear evidence that there’s a sincere repentance and that the people concerned have decided not to pick up arms anymore, that they’re ready to go back to their normal way of life and if they’re foreigners, they’re ready to go back home. All this must be part and parcel of the process of amnesty.
“The bandits must be reconciled with society, they must change, they must decide to be really repentant and show it clearly. And not be put in a position to brag around to appear that they have actually won, and defeated the Nation.”