Presidency: Security Agencies Striving to Rescue Hostages

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Mallam Garba Shehu

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The presidency yesterday dispelled insinuations that the federal government was lukewarm about rescuing hostages kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents.

It said in a statement in Abuja that security agencies were working relentlessly to rescue some citizens held hostage by Boko Haram insurgents and attested to the ability of the security forces to rescue the victims.

The assurance came on the heels of the call by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on foreign countries to intervene in the alleged deliberate killings of Christians in the country.

CAN, which was reacting to the recent kidnapping of its Chairman, in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, had written to the United Kingdom, the United States and the United Nations (UN), calling for their interventions in the alleged oppression and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

But reacting to CAN’s letter in the statement, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the government had condemned terrorist activities that took place during the Yuletide and appealed to CAN not to continue to view such incidents from religious perspectives.

According to him, it is commonly known that perpetrators of the heinous crimes are terrorists who are not representatives of any religion as being insinuated, adding that the federal government is fighting Boko Haram to end its terror attacks.

He reiterated the commitment of the government’s zero tolerance to religious intolerance as well as its support for freedom of worship, saying politicisation of religion is not acceptable.

He said: “The security forces of Nigeria are working continuously to return those taken hostage by Boko Haram to their families, friends and communities. In doing this, the government has full confidence in their ability to accomplish the task.
“On its own part, government has condemned some of the appalling acts of terror, especially following the festive period. Yet, to continue to see these happenings solely in religious terms – removed from social, economic and environmental factors – simplifies complexities that must be heeded. Not seeing them as they should be is exactly what the terrorists and groups wish: they want Nigerians to see their beliefs as reason to turn against one another.

“On the contrary, Christians and Muslims alike are united in their opposition to Boko Haram and the hatred for decency that the infamous group stands for. Nigerians must continue to be united in ensuring that they do not subscribe to the terrorists’ message of division.”

He stated that it was unfortunate that some leaders and politicians were seeking to make political gains from religious differences, adding that the federal government is battling not only to fight Boko Haram, but to tackle its beliefs.
“This government shall never tolerate religious intolerance. We clearly and unambiguously restate our support for the freedom to practice whichever belief you wish. The politicisation of religion – as forbidden by the constitution – has no place in Nigeria,” he said.

CAN had on Monday called on the federal government to deploy all necessary means to secure the release of Christians in terrorists’ captivity.
It also urged the government to deploy resources to rescue all Christians in the captivity of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists, saying that the latest attacks are evidence of Christian persecution in Nigeria.

In a statement by the President of CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle on the abduction on Andimi during a Boko Haram attack on Michika, and signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, said: “Although we were told that the troops repelled them but not until they had successfully forced Rev Andimi into their Toyota Hilux and took him away. The innocent cleric in a video footage released by his captors has been making an appeal to the federal government, the Adamawa State governor and the leadership of CAN to come to his aide.”