Christian Leaders, Others Shun Peace Summit on Southern Kaduna


•Accuse organisers of not consulting them

John Shiklam in Kaduna

Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) and the Southern Kaduna Christian Leaders Association yesterday boycotted a peace summit in Kafanchan in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The summit was organised by the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) as part of efforts to find lasting peace and stop the killings in communities in Southern Kaduna.

The three groups said they stayed away because key stakeholders were not carried along in organising the summit.
CAN, in a letter dated September 3, 2020, and addressed to the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the summit, Pastor James Movel, disassociated itself from the summit, saying it “lacks transparency in planning it.”
The letter signed by the state secretary of CAN, Rev. Sunday Ibrahim, said the association would not support conflict entrepreneurs to use the horrible situation in Kaduna to their advantage.

“We find the organisation of the proposed summit as inappropriate even as CAN Kaduna State has been involved and is still involved in working for long-lasting peace in Southern Kaduna and Kaduna State as a whole in partnership with genuine, purpose-driven, and sincere stakeholders in peace-building and are open to such partnerships always.

“The Southern Kaduna security challenges need a holistic and genuine approach and not a whitewash, playing to the gallery approach,” it said.
CAN added that since it was only an invitee to the summit, it could not vouch for the motives of the organisers.

“Without a doubt, CAN and JNI remained the most recognised authorities representing Christians and Muslims hence, are legitimate authorities to partner with for a peace process as the one we yearn for and other matters relating to religion in Nigeria as a whole.
“To this end, CAN Kaduna State disassociates itself from this summit in its entirety, given the lack of transparency in the planning of the summit,” it stated.

Also in a statement, the Chairman of Southern Kaduna Christian Leaders Association, Bishop Simon Mutum, said “key stakeholders were left out” in organising the summit.

According to him, the people who bore the brunt of the genocide over the years learnt of the peace summit a few hours to its commencement.
Mutum said: “From all indications, all the arrangements had been completed without the involvement of some of the key stakeholders of Southern Kaduna that have been suffering from the killings.

“We are also troubled that a peace summit can be organised for people without involving the key leaders of the people to be discussed with/about.”
On its part, SOKAPU, an umbrella body for ethnic nationalities in Southern Kaduna, said it could not participate in the peace summit because the notice was too short and it could not consult with stakeholders.

In a letter dated September 6, 2020, and addressed to Movel, the union said the invitation came when consultations with key stakeholders in Southern Kaduna were yet to be concluded.
The letter signed by SOKAPU Secretary, Mr. Stephen Mallan, said: “SOKAPU appreciates this laudable initiative for a peace summit, especially at this crucial period when peace has eluded most of our communities.

“That SOKAPU has accepted the invitation and is willing to participate in the peace summit.
“However, this invitation came when we were yet to conclude our consultations with key stakeholders in Southern Kaduna.
“Furthermore, SOKAPU had wished to have prior consultations with the conveners before the summit.

“In this regard, we are kindly requesting that the summit be rescheduled to a later date to enable us to conclude all consultations, otherwise, the summit may proceed and we shall be glad to be communicated with the outcome.”
However, the summit went on as scheduled, with over 100 participants across religious faiths in attendance.