By Kayode Fasua
A group, the International Christian Conscience Initiative (ICCI), has urged the federal government to enlist the support of the United States of America and other friendly nations, with a view to stemming the tide of terrorism and kidnapping in the country.
The ICCI, in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday, particularly regretted that aside from the age-long Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping was now a serious challenge that appears to have overwhelmed the country’s security apparatus.
In the statement by its President, Professor Olakunle Macaulay, the ICCI said, “Unnecessary killings by Boko Haram, kidnapping, and banditry have not only affected the economy of the nation, but have also made the country unsafe for people.”
The group noted with regrets, the invasion of the country’s highways by kidnappers, ritual killers and other criminals, stressing that it was high time the federal government sought the collaboration of the US, Britain, and other friendly nations, to overcome the challenge.
It recalled that the recent visit of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the US where he met with the country’s VP, Mike Pence, would have been a golden opportunity to lay bare the country’s security challenges, but expressed doubts if the purpose was ever achieved.
“The visit of Vice President Osinbajo to the US of recent, was an opportunity for him as the second in command in Nigeria, to discuss the political, social and religious situations in the country with Mr. Mike Pence, the US Vice President. But the news around now is his denial of the magnitude of banditry, terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria,” the group observed.
It noted that security was a problem in Nigeria, which affects everybody, and that all security agents, including local vigilantes, risk their lives daily in the bid to protect the citizenry.
The group, however, commended the federal government for backing down on its earlier decision to introduce Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlement, in which hectares of land were meant to be given to Fulani herdsmen across states of the federation; noting that the policy would have thrown the country into turmoil, if it had been implemented.
Noting that President Muhammadu Buhari took the right step, the ICCI stated, “Whether the policy of RUGA is Islamisation or Fulanisation, one important thing is that the President had been sensitive to the reactions of Nigerians,” adding, “ranching, which is a cattle breeding establishment or a farm, is an acceptable international practice which Nigeria should imbibe.”
Meanwhile, the Christian body has reminded the federal government and other leaders, on the need to be more proactive in efforts to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, the only Christian still being held hostage by Boko Haram, among the Dapchi school female students kidnapped by the terrorist group.
“Now is the time for all Christians and their leaders in Nigeria to, with one voice, demand the release of Leah Sharibu. Christians should demand for help from foreign embassies, to mediate on their behalf with the federal government of Nigeria.
“Leah had stayed for too long in captivity. She never committed any offence, but is now suffering for lack of security for her college, from the government,” the group lamented.