- Declares January 8 national day of mourning
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) friday expressed concerrn about the silence of President Muhammadu Buhari on the persistent killing of Christians in Southern part of Kaduna State, describing it as “perceived official endorsement” of the dastardly act by the President.
The National General Secretary of CAN, Reverend Musa Asake expressed this concern at a press conference in Abuja, where he noted that Christians had been subjected to systematic genocide and persecution since 2009, especially by the Boko Haram sect.
Asake said: “I have been directed by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Dr. Samson Ayokunle to bring to your attention the on-going ethnic/religious cleansing of Nigerian Christians in general and those of Southern Kaduna in particular in the last few weeks.
“The Church in Nigeria since 2009 has been subjected to a systemic genocide and persecution through the instrumentality of Islamic fundamentalists Boko Haram, leading to the killing of thousands of Christians and destruction of hundreds of churches, and over 50,000 houses. The current unprecedented onslaught against Christians in Southern Kaduna by the Islamic fundamentalists disguising as the Fulani herdsmen under the watch of Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and President Buhari has reached an alarming stage.
“While we commend President Buhari for waging war against Boko Haram fundamentalists since his assumption of office, his silence over the on-going genocide in the last few weeks speaks volumes over the perceived official endorsement of the dastardly and ungodly acts.”
Asake said that the recent defense of the President’s silence that he had received briefing from the governor of Kaduna State over the matter was unacceptable, “because the Presidency knows that the people of the affected area had already protested against the governor’s unacceptable biased handling of the continuous killings.”
The CAN General Secretary continued: “Common sense tells anyone that at that instance, the President has to more directly wade in because lives are involved. The continuous killings have shown that the Governor of Kaduna State lacks the will power to arrest the situation and bring it under effective control.
“We know that Southern Kaduna has been under 24-hour curfew daily, as directed by the governor, yet the enemies of the people are still prowling going from house to house, killing defenseless people without government’s protection.”
CAN alleged further that the security operatives in the area appeared to be turning a blind eye to the killings, adding that they only rush to trouble spots after the perpetrators had performed their act of killings and destruction of houses and farmlands.
The Christian body said it had previously drawn attention to the imbalance in the appointments made in the country’s security institutions, “hence we re-emphasise that leadership/management of security institutions both at the national and state levels be reviewed to ensure a balance of Muslim and Christian representation.”
He said such balance, will build trust and confidence among all citizens of Nigeria in the security empowered to protect our nation.
CAN urged the state and federal government to increase their efforts in putting an end to the killings and also ensure that those behind the killings were brought to book under the laws of the land and compensate those affected.
Asake stressed: “In view of the present predicament, the President of CAN has directed that Sunday January 8, 2017, should be declared national day of mourning by Christians, including those in Diaspora. We are to pray fervently for our Southern Kaduna brothers and sisters who are victims of these wanton killings and also for the peace of our dear country Nigeria.
“Therefore, all Christians are to dress in mourning attire of black clothes or dresses in all our church services on January 8, 2017. We are to pray that God, who delivered the Jews from Haman, should deliver Christians from Hamans in Nigeria.”
The Catholic Archdiocese of Kafanchan has alleged this week that the unrest in Southern Kaduna State had claimed over 808 lives, in 53 villages in the area, with 1,422 houses, 16 Churches, 19 shops, and one primary school destroyed.
The latest killing last week took place despite a curfew on three local governments affected by the crisis.
At a press conference Thursday, the Vicar-General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kafanchan, Ibrahim Yakubu, said the government had failed to protect locals.
Yakubu added: “Unfortunately, our government both at the Centre and State levels have failed woefully,” he said. “If anything, government has shown outright partisanship in favour of the herdsmen to the disappointment of the majority Southern Kaduna indigenes and Christians.
“We call on Southern Kaduna indigenes to remain steadfast in prayer, united, strong and never to cave in to the antics of our adversaries. Tribe and denominational differences shouldn’t put a chasm between us,” he said.