…warns against unguarded comments and actions
By Bella Regina
The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to desist from playing lip service, and take the country’s security challenges more seriously.
Condemning the recent killings of about 22 persons in Plateau state, the religious body also asked President Buhari to take conscious and deliberate actions to address the unending killings, rather than the issuance of press statements and periodic meetings with security chiefs
A statement signed by CAN’s General Secretary, Joseph Daramola on Friday in Abuja which termed comments from the government regarding the Plateau killings as “divisive, religion wise,” frowned at governments body language which seemed to show it was taking sides with one religion over the other.
The statement reads: “Stopping killing of the innocents by the criminals cannot be done by mere issuing press statements and holding periodical meetings with the security chiefs by the President. Until the government shows the political will by arresting and bringing culprits to book, the shedding of innocent blood will not cease.
“While we commiserate with the bereaved of the dastardly attack on those travellers, we were alarmed by the statement of President Buhari describing the motive behind the criminality as ‘religious persuasion.’
“This is the first time that the Federal government will make this type of assertion. Whenever CAN cries out against the killings of its members, the government always rises up to condemn us telling us that the terrorists and bandits that are killing are not targeting any religion but innocent people irrespective of their religious affiliations.
“The reaction of the President is, to say the least, provocative, unacceptable and unjustifiable. The government shouldn’t be seen as being on the side of one religion against another. Criminals are criminals irrespective of their religious affiliations.
“One Minister reportedly said the President lost his appetite as a result of the killing on the Plateau. Such unguarded comments and actions of the government, including the Nigeria Police appear strange since the same people never took convincing step as this since the time criminals have been attacking predominantly Christian communities in the Middle belt zone especially in the same Plateau State.
“Once again, we repeat that the government was wrong in tagging the unlawful actions of the criminals as religious. While we are pained in our hearts for the callous killing of the innocent people in the buses, we are not impressed by the government’s comments which is divisive, religion wise. It is shocking and disappointing to hear that the Police have deployed ‘surveillance helicopter’ to apprehend criminals.
“We wonder why the same Police did not take same measure to apprehend the those terrorists tagged bandits who are holding many people captive, including several students, in different forests? This government is seriously called upon to be alive to its responsibilities.
“Till date, no one has been held for the killing of hundreds of people in Benue State, Plateau State and Southern Kaduna. This is totally unacceptable, unjustifiable and unbelievable.”
CAN also advised the Federal government to stop recycling terrorists under the guise of deradicalisation and rehabilitation of criminals.
” In civilised nations, criminals who surrendered or arrested are prosecuted and sentenced. We commend Senator Ndume who has been in the fore front of this campaign. As far as we are concerned, criminals who are abducting and placing heavy ransom on their victims are not bandits but terrorists and if the government has no sympathy for these criminals, let them stop them. Our security agencies have what it takes to stop these terrorists but they are playing ostrich.
“We charge the Federal government to fix the security challenges or throw in the towel. The Police and the military should be tasked to wake up to their responsibilities before these criminals turn the country into another Afghanistan.
“Let there be State Police now after all some states like Kano have religious security outfit that are being used to enforce their laws. We don’t want to believe the thought of many that it is either the government has sympathy for those criminals or some of its top functionaries have sympathy for the terrorists, bandits and murderous herdsmen.
“The security architecture has collapsed and the evidence is the unending killings, kidnappings and other criminalities and we called on the Federal government to wake up to its primary responsibilities. We don’t have to remind President Buhari that it is his responsibility to protect lives and property of the people under his watch irrespective of their religious, tribal and political persuasions.
“This we are yet to see. Nigerians are still waiting for the disclosure of those who are financially supporting terrorists as promised by the Federal government.”