The umbrella body for Christians in the country, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the recent killing of about 22 people in Plateau State.
The group has also called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to stop paying lip-service to the unending killings in the country.
According to the statement signed by CAN’s general secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola, the actions of the Buhari-led administration towards ending terrorism and tackling insecurity must go beyond press conferences and periodical meetings.
“Stopping the killing of innocents by the criminals cannot be done by merely issuing press statements and holding periodical meetings with the security chiefs by the president. Until the government shows the political will by arresting and bringing culprits to book, the shedding of innocent blood will not cease,” he said.
Commiserating with the relatives of the deceased victims of the said attack, the Christian group outrightly condemned the reaction of the Presidency towards the killings, which it described as provocative.
“While we commiserate with the bereaved of the dastardly attack on those travellers, we were alarmed by the statement of President Buhari describing the motive behind the criminality as ‘religious persuasion’, This reaction of the President is, to say the least, provocative, unacceptable and unjustifiable.
“This is the first time that the federal government will make this type of assertion. Whenever CAN cries out against the killings of its members, the government always rises up to condemn us, telling us that the terrorists and bandits that are killing are not targeting any religion but innocent people irrespective of their religious affiliations.
“The government shouldn’t be seen as being on the side of one religion against another. Criminals are criminals irrespective of their religious affiliations.
“One minister reportedly said the president lost his appetite as a result of the killing on the Plateau. Such unguarded comments and actions of the government, including the Nigeria Police, appear strange since the same people never took convincing steps as this since the time criminals have been attacking predominantly Christian communities in the Middle Belt zone especially in the same Plateau State.”
CAN expressed sadness at what it described as callous killings in Plateau, even as it expressed surprise at the quick label and subsequent actions taken as opposed to other similar cases of terrorism in recent times.
“Once again, we repeat that the government was wrong in tagging the unlawful actions of the criminals as religious. While we are pained in our hearts for the callous killing of the innocent people in the buses, we are not impressed by the government’s comments which are divisive religion-wise.
“It is shocking and disappointing to hear that the police have deployed a ‘surveillance helicopter’ to apprehend criminals. We wonder why the same police did not take the same measures to apprehend those terrorists, tagged bandits, who are holding many people captive, including several students, in different forests? This government is seriously called upon to be alive to its responsibilities. Till date, no one has been held for the killing of hundreds of people in Benue State, Plateau State and Southern Kaduna. This is totally unacceptable, unjustifiable and unbelievable.”
The association further called on the government to prosecute these criminals and stop what it termed as the supposed rehabilitation of terrorists embarked on by the federal government, while also commending Senator Ali Ndume on his stringent efforts towards ending this menace.
“We call on the federal government to stop recycling the terrorists through the so-called deradicalisation and rehabilitation of terrorists. In civilised nations, criminals who surrender or are arrested are prosecuted and sentenced.
“We commend Senator Ndume who has been in the forefront of this campaign. As far as we are concerned, criminals who are abducting and placing heavy ransom on their victims are not bandits but terrorists, and if the government has no sympathy for these criminals, let them stop them. Our security agencies have what it takes to stop these terrorists but they are playing the ostrich.”
CAN further admonished the security agencies and the federal government to rise up to its duty of safeguarding the lives of its citizens irrespective of ethnic, religious or political affiliations, lest Nigeria become a repeat of the Afghanistan scenario.
“We charge the federal government to fix the security challenges or throw in the towel. The police and the military should be tasked to wake up to their responsibilities before these criminals turn the country into another Afghanistan. Let there be state police now; after all, some states like Kano have religious security outfits that are being used to enforce the law. We don’t want to believe the thought of many that it is either the government has sympathy for those criminals or some of its top officials have sympathy for the terrorists, bandits and murderous herdsmen.
“The security architecture has collapsed and the evidence is the unending killings, kidnappings and other criminalities and we call on the federal government to wake up to its primary responsibilities. We don’t have to remind President Buhari that it is his responsibility to protect lives and property of the people under his watch irrespective of their religious, tribal and political persuasions,” it said.
NANS, Group Evacuate 279 FCT Students From Jos
Niger Evacuates Students From Jos
Following the recent killings in Rukuba, near Jos in Plateau State, the Niger State government has said citizens of the state at the University of Jos have been evacuated back home.
A statement by the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr Noel Berje, said this was sequel to the breach of peace in some parts of Plateau State which resulted in loss of lives and destruction of property.
The state government, in the statement, said the action became necessary as the security situation had compelled the university management to suspend the second semester examinations for the 2019/2020 academic session.
“Worried about the wellbeing of her citizens and for them not to be left stranded as well as become victims of circumstances, the state government through the commissioners for local government and chieftaincy affairs as well as tertiary education, science and technology, made arrangements for vehicles and security personnel to ensure safe evacuation and return of the students,” the statement said.
The chief press secretary said the state government had unwavering commitment to the safety of its citizens irrespective of their geopolitical locations.
Similarly, an indigenous organisation under the auspices of Abuja Original Youths Empowerment Organisation (AOIYEO), in collaboration with National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), has evacuated over 270 students who are natives and residents of Abuja from the state.
The president of AOIYEO, Commandant Isaac David, who responded swiftly to calls from natives and residents of Abuja schooling in Jos, said that the evacuation of the students was necessary in order to prevent the death of indigenes and residents of Abuja in Jos.
David revealed that all the buses sent to convey the students from their various schools safely brought them back to Abuja, adding that another round of evacuation will be made on Saturday to ensure that all natives and residents of Abuja are brought back home, pending the period of the security crisis in Jos is brought under control.
“As FCT indigenous people, we have not been given due recognition by government, so we have to do our civic responsibility as an indigenous organisation. With the little resources at our disposal, we achieved major results,” he said.
According to him, the previous governments had made people believe that the FCT was just the city centre, forgetting that there are over 868 villages in remote areas of the federal capital.
“The people in the outskirts are left behind and nobody cares about them, but with this kind of incident, many people should understand that indigenous students studying in Jos are from various local communities that make up the entire FCT,” he said.
David described the present crisis in Jos as similar to a war situation, where innocent lives are taken without thinking twice, saying that was why the group decided to move into action and ensure a swift evacuation of the stranded students.
“Our citizens studying in Plateau State were stranded in the area as a result of the curfew imposed on some local government by the state government as a measure to curtail the security situation and the crisis in the state.
“We closely monitored the situation and we contacted the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS); we went into partnership with them to ensure the safe evacuation of our citizens and it became achievable,” he said.
MNJTF moves to clear remnants of terrorists from Lake Chad region – Commander
The Force Commander, Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), Maj.-Gen. Abdul-Khalifah Ibrahim, has urged troops to prepare for the clearance of the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists from the Lake Chad region.
The chief of Military Public Information, MNJTF, Col. Muhammad Dole, in a statement yesterday, said that Ibrahim spoke during familiarisation and operational tour to troops’ locations in the region.
Dole said the commander had in the last one week visited Sector 3 of the MNJTF in Monguno, Nigeria, Sector 1 in Moura, Cameroon and Sector 2 in Bagasola, Chad.
He said the force commander informed the troops that he was coming with a renewed impetus and zeal to take the fight to the enemy to hasten the end of the conflict.
According to him, Ibrahim praised the officers and men for their courage, resilience and service which has decimated and degraded the insurgents as well as reduced their potency.
“The Force commander paid tribute to the fallen heroes of this struggle and prayed for their repose.
“He, however, called for renewed vigour, better synergy, better intelligence sharing, focused leadership and coordination to enable the MNJTF fully achieve its mandate.
“He said he had listened keenly to the challenges as enumerated by the commanders and that they would be carefully looked into.
“He praised the troops-contributing countries of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin Republic for their support and belief in the MNJTF and promised to live up to expectations.
“He also thanked the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), AU and EU for the support being rendered to the MNJTF.’’
Dole also disclosed that the MNJTF commander commended the spate of surrender by insurgents, adding that the military will continue to encourage more to surrender and come out with their weapons.
He added that Ibrahim also warned against complacency and urged the troops to remain on high alert and be cautious when dealing with the surrendered insurgents by acting in line with international laws of armed conflict at all times.
According to him, the commander informed them that the HQ MNJTF was carefully studying the development to enable it to give direction on it.
The MNJTF spokesperson further disclosed that Ibrahim also visited the Senior District/Division Officer (SDO) of Mayo-Sava and Prefecture of Mora in Cameroon, Mr Roger Saffo, who urged him to restrategise to defeat the terrorists.
He said district officers pledged to continue to cooperate and support the military and security agencies through collaboration.
Dole said the commander also paid a visit to the wounded troops at the Sector 1 medical centre in Mora.(NAN)
Stranded Gombe State Students Studying in Unijos Evacuated Back Home
Also, stranded Gombe State students studying in the University of Jos, Plateau state have been successfully evacuated back home by the state government.
Ismaila Uba Misilli, director-general, Press Affairs, Government House, in a statement, said the students returned in four buses with heavy security escorts provided by the Gombe State Government today.
He said this was sequel to the directive of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya mandating that everything necessary must be done to return students of Gombe State safely back home.
“In compliance with the Governor’s directive, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi instructed the Hon. Commissioner for Higher Education, Meshack Audu Locu to immediately facilitate and monitor the safe return of the students.
“The Commissioner led other government officials to receive the returning students with the assurances of Governor Yahaya’s resolve to safeguard all citizens of Gombe State wherever they are”, he stated.
He said the commissioner praised the students for their orderly conduct and patience during the unfortunate incident in Jos.