We Can No Longer Practise Our Faith, Northern Christians Cry to Buhari

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•President says he will treat all Nigerians equitably
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Northern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure an enabling environment for Christians in the North to freely practise their faith.

The Chairman of Northern CAN, Yakubu Pam, who spoke with journalists yesterday after a closed doors meeting with the president at the State House in Abuja, said members of the association also called on the president to put an end to abduction of children for marriage in the northern part of the country.
He also said they told the president to protect farmers from herdsmen’s attacks.

He said: “We came to present ourselves as the northern CAN chapter to the President and tell him some of the challenges that Northern Christians are passing through and one of those challenges we are having difficulties in expressing our faith in the northern part of the country.

“We have also told him some of the difficulties we are paying through; the Fulani herdsmen and the farmers need to be protected and in fact we told the President that we have been encouraging our youths to go into farming and they need to be protected and when they come into the city, there is no employment, that is why farmers must be protected.

“We also talked on the issue of girl child abduction in the north. In some Northern states some young girls and children are being abducted at 12 years old and the parents will just hear that the girls have been married to traditional rulers and emirs.
“This is gathering a cloud of crisis already and if that is not taken care of it will lead to a serious crisis. These are the issues we told the president.”

He said they also congratulated the president on the wedding of his daughter, the fight against corruption, the return of some of the Chibok girls as well as the onslaught against Boko Haram.
He said the president’s response was reassuring.
However, Buhari has said he will keep faith with the oath of office he swore to, and treat all Nigerians equitably.

A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said Buhari made the commitment while receiving  the executive committee members of CAN at the State House, yesterday.
Adesina said  the president equally pledged to restore peace to all parts of the country, noting: “Restoring peace is top priority.  We will enable the law enforcement agencies to combat all forms of violent crimes, and ensure that our people live in peace.”
He said Buhari urged the clerics to promote religious harmony, by “enhancing understanding among different faiths.”

The statement said the president also said his government would maintain the priority it had placed on agriculture and mines and steel development, “to kick-start the economy.”
The statement quoted the Chairman of CAN in the 19 Northern States and Abuja, Pam, said it was not a mistake that God chose President Buhari to lead the country at these challenging times.

The statement reads: “We are ready to support your administration to deliver good governance. You have good intentions for Nigeria, judging from the programmes that have been outlined,” Pam said.
He also highlighted ethno-religious challenges in the country, freedom of worship,  and herdsmen-farmers’ clashes in their discussion with the President.

The CAN leader commended the Buhari administration for the blow dealt Boko Haram insurgents, “leading to comparative peace in the North-east,” the return of 21 abducted schoolgirls from Chibok, and the anti-corruption war, which he urged “should be fought to the logical conclusion.”