My Life in God’s Hands, Lekwot Replies Sharia Council

  •  CAN president calls for arrest of killer-herdsmen

John Shiklam in Kaduna

The Chairman of the Southern Kaduna Elders Forum (SKEF), Major General Zamani Lekwot (rtd), yesterday reacted to calls for the revisiting of the death sentence passed on him and six others over the 1992 Zangon Kataf riot, saying his life is in the hands of God.

Lekwot told journalists after the weekly protest and prayer session at the ECWA Church, Narayi High Cost, Kaduna that only God could determined his life and “not those craving for violence under the current democratic dispensation.”

The Secretary of the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN), Mr. AbdulRahman Hassan, had in a statement last week, demanded that the death sentence passed on Lekwot and six others over their involvement in the 1992 Zango-Kataf riot be revisited.

Lekwot and the six others were sentenced to death by the Late Justice Benedict Okadigbo tribunal that was set up by the military regime of former President Ibrahim Babangida to investigate the riot,

which led to massive destruction of lives and property.

They were later granted pardon by a former Head of State, (late) General Sani Abacha.

But the Islamic group had maintained that the execution of Lekwot and others would end the crisis in Southern Kaduna.

However, Lekwot, a former military governor of Rivers State said: “All religious leaders are expected to preach peace, not hate and religious violence.”

“The killings, which took place 28 years in Zangon Kataf, was unfortunate, but the genesis was a dispute over relocation of a market and at the end of the day, a commission of inquiry was set up, and recommendations were made.

“All of the recommendations have been implemented. So, those referring to it are being clever by half. What we need in the country is genuine tolerance.

“Now by saying what they said they have just confirmed why armed foreign bandits have been imported into our country to destroy our country.

“How does what they said address the issues at hand? What is happening in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country is a bad omen for our unity and stability.”

Lekwot also spoke against the comments attributed to the Commander of the Operation Safe Heaven, Major General Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, who said that “criminal elements on both sides” in southern Kaduna were responsible for the crisis in the area.

He described Okonkwo’s statement very unfortunate to have come from a military commander because “a professional security person you are supposed to be neutral in everything so as to inculcate confidence in the people.”

Also the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Supo Ayokunle and the President of ECWA Church, Rev. Steven Panya Baba, described the statement by the SCSN as an agenda to set the country ablaze and derail democracy.

The Christian leaders, however, commended the federal government over the deployment of special military forces to maintain peace southern Kaduna.

They also called on the government to arrest and prosecute those behind the killings in order to ensure lasting peace.

The Christian leaders prayed fervently for “God to intervene and rescue Nigerians from those leaders conspiring with the armed herdsmen in fueling attacks and killings in Southern Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria.”

The president of the CAN said that it was unfortunate that some Muslim religious leaders were calling for the execution of Lekwot before peace would return to Kaduna, adding that “this is to tell the world that some people in this country don’t want us to live in peace.

“How can you imagine something that happened 28 years ago in Zangon Kataf and some people are calling for execution of Lekwot and others now, in the midst of crisis in the Southern Kaduna? Will that help in peace building?”

Similarly, the president of the ECWA denounced those promoting evil agenda in the southern part of the state and in the country, and noted that Nigeria’s economy would continue to nose dive until the government address the bloody crisis firmly.