Christians, under the aegis of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State chapter, has accused the Federal Government of aiding killings in Southern Kaduna.
The association also alleged that the statement issued by Mr Garba Shehu, a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, was meant to distort facts about the criminal activities of suspected Fulani herdsmen in Southern Kaduna. CAN’s allegation is contained in a statement it issued after its meeting yesterday.
Recall that in a statement released by Shehu yesterday night, the Presidency attributed Kaduna killings to criminal gangs acting on ethnic, religious grounds.
The statement read: ‘From available records, Southern Kaduna enjoys comprehensive security deployments, including the Army, Special Forces of both the Army and the Air Force, surveillance aircraft by the Air Force and mobile police units that are on the ground on a 24-hour basis to forestall criminality and keep the peace.
“But unlike other parts of the country, the problem of Southern Kaduna is more complicated than many critics are ready to acknowledge and understand.
“From available security records, the problem in Southern Kaduna is an evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds.”
He added: “It is a situation in which one criminal group will kill a member of another criminal group out of ethnic and religious motivations, which in turn leads to an eruption of revenge and counter-revenge, thereby making the job of the security personnel deployed to protect lives more difficult.”
But the CAN Chairman, Rev Joseph Hayab, in his reaction contained in a statement yesterday, condemned the response by the Presidency on the Killings.
The statement read, “In the past weeks, there have been reports of killings, especially in the southern part of Kaduna State with the most recent massacres at Kukum Daji and Gora Gan put at 33 deaths, aside from the scores who are in hospitals receiving treatment from various degrees of gunshot injuries.
“Instead of the Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria stepping in to find a lasting solution, it is unfortunate that it has resorted to twisting the truths.
“One of the twists is the provocative claims credited to the Senior Special Assistant (Media & Publicity) to the President of Nigeria on July 21, 2020, that the problem in Southern Kaduna is an evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds.”
He added: “As if the above misconception was not enough, Shehu Garba further misinformed the Nigerian and the international community that Southern Kaduna enjoys comprehensive security deployments, including the Army, Special Forces of both the Army and the Air Force, surveillance aircraft by the Air Force and mobile police units that are on the ground on a 24-hour basis to forestall criminality and keep the peace.
“Were it to be true that the southern part of Kaduna enjoys security surveillance as claimed by Mallam Garba Shehu, where were the security personnel when people were attacked in Atyap and Chawai chiefdoms during the state’s imposed curfew and the fresh attacks at Kukum Daji in Kagoro Chiefdom as well as at Gora Gan in Atyap Chiefdom?”
According to Hayab, CAN found the statement as an unwarranted and a misdirected attempt towards giving a dog a bad name to hang it.
“The position of CAN is that the killings of innocent lives, maiming and destruction of lives and property across the nation, particularly the fresh attacks in the southern part of Kaduna State, have reached an extraordinary height and are a matter of grave concern; hence, require that the FG takes a proactive approach instead of taking sides.
“CAN is worried that instead of the Federal and state government to do everything in their power to address this evil, she is busy twisting facts to achieve what only God knows which will only make the situation worse.”
The association called on the government to apply the principle of justice for all in addressing conflicts in the country.
It also advised the government against attempting to twist facts and trivialize the serious matter.
“The government’s attitude simply assists criminals killing innocent citizens to be viewed as the victims.
“Aside from the degree of endless destruction of lives and property and government’s complicit response, CAN wish to unequivocally assert that government has not done enough to stop the never-ending attacks nor has it demonstrated guaranteeing steps to arrest the aggressors.
“Besides, the government’s posture, evidenced in Shehu Garba’s July 21, 2020 release, is an indictment on the government at all levels, considering that its fundamental duty is the protection of the lives and property of all citizenry and not only a section,” it added.
MEANWHILE, the Kaduna State Police Command said yesterday it had arrested 217 suspected kidnappers, bandits, robbers, and cattle rustlers, among others.
The state’s Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri, said the suspects were arrested between April 29 and July 22 following a review of security strategies towards ensuring a secure Kaduna State.
Muri, who paraded the suspects at the Command’s headquarters in Kaduna yesterday, also displayed 43 guns, including AK-47 rifles, pistols and others recovered from the suspects.”
In another development, a Kaduna resident, Chief Egwaku Anya, has narrated how his son, Steven, aged 15, was killed and dumped in a shallow well by kidnappers after collecting N1.5m as ransom.
Anya, in an interview with journalists, shortly after the suspected kidnapper, Joseph Sylvester, and his accomplice were paraded at the Kaduna State Police Command, said he begged the criminals to free his son after collecting the ransom but they refused to release his him.
He said, “They killed him and dumped him in a well; that is the most gruesome way of killing a person.
“The effect of that attack worries me every time when I think about what my son could be thinking before he was killed. It is terrible.
“They took away our phones, my laptop, my daughter’s phone and in addition, they abducted my own son inside my car and left,” he said.
Chief Anya said his son scored 245 in JAMB and passed WAEC and NECO and was waiting for admission into tertiary institution before his
He added, “The first amount they demanded was N40 million. We negotiated, we brought it down to five million and again it came to one million. They collected the one million and said it’s not enough, so we added N500 thousand, making it N1.5 million.
“Eventually, when they demanded another N1.5 million and we agreed that we will rally round and get it for them, we said the payment will be made on the condition that we hear the boy’s voice and you release him to us, not knowing that they had killed the boy.”
Reacting to the developments, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in Kaduna, particularly in Southern Kaduna.
In a statement signed by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA stated: “We reject the Presidency’s explanation in the characterisation of the serial attacks in the southern Kaduna as a conflict. What kind of conflict is it that hacks children to death when they are sleeping? This laziness of language should stop.
“The problem is that of massive and irresponsible governance and the fact that Governor Nasir El’Rufai in particular, who is the Chief Security Officer of the State and the Federal Government at large have failed to address the crisis in an even-handed manner.
“The government should go back and study Section 33, subsection 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states that the right to life and safety is paramount and remains the reason for all other rights.”
In another development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Federal Government to respond to comments by the Chairman of Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, that the Buhari administration’s underfunding of the military is responsible for insecurity challenges in the nation under its watch.
The party also asked Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State to react to allegation of having connections with marauders and bandits ravaging his state.
PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described as worrisome, the comments by Senator Ndume, who on national television on Tuesday night, restated his position that the Buhari administration was not adequately funding the military.
It berated Masari for allegedly playing politics with the lives of Nigerians in Katsina State by blaming imaginary political rivals.
“Nigerians can recall that Governor Masari reportedly has some connections with the bandits and even held a much-publicised ceasefire agreement meeting with them in September 2019, where the bandits reportedly stated that their grievance was alleged maltreatment by authorities in Katsina State. “
It urged security agencies not to be distracted by Masari’s comments.