The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, to cease making provocative statements over the killings in the southern part of the state.
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The association made this known during a visit to the governor on Monday, according to a statement signed by Rev. Samson Ayokunle, its National President.
The religious body said this in response to comments made by Governor El-Rufai in an interview on Sunday, where he said he was being blackmailed by leaders of Southern Kaduna as him fuelling the crisis over his refusal to appease them with brown envelopes.
According to CAN, the accusations and counter-accusations between the government and stakeholders need to stop as it will not yield any positive solution to the current crisis.
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It stated that El-Rufai as the governor of the state should be a fatherly and unifying figure and not a divisive one, especially on a sensitive issue such as that of Southern Kaduna.
CAN noted that as a religious body and stakeholder in the affected area, it has every reason to complain once people are being killed and the government and security agencies fail to track and arrest the criminals who perpetuated such dastardly act.
It added that there needs to be a round table discussion between all relevant parties on how to resolve the crisis, and pledged to cooperate with the state government once such conversation is conveyed.
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The statement read: “Sir, whenever CAN in the state and at the national level cry out against the insecurity, it is because we are tired of seeing human beings being slaughtered like animals. It is because not only our heart is bleeding, but that of God our Creator and Maker as well.
“On many occasions, when I read of ‘unknown gunmen’ and it ends there, I wonder whether it is not the duty of those governing us to make sure that the “unknown gunmen” are ‘known’ and brought to book!
“The people causing trouble are not spirits, so, it should not be too difficult to apprehend them and bring them to book. If there are people sponsoring them, a thorough investigation should be able to fish them out and cause them to face the wrath of the law.
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“Let there be a round table discussion and a pledge of cooperation rather than confrontation in finding a solution to this wicked and embarrassing development.
“In view of the foregoing, we request sir the following: A stop to accusations and counter-accusations between the government and other stakeholders over the killings in Southern Kaduna but rather a round table solution. Every provocative statement over the matter should be avoided.
“Everybody is looking at the governor as a father of the state and this is the understanding with which he should handle every accusing finger pointed at him. Your office is like that of the dung where all kinds of rubbish are dumped. When you were not in charge of the governance of the state, nobody was pointing accusing finger at you.
“No bandit, gunman or cattle rustler should be allowed to strike and disappear into the thin air any longer without being pursued to his or her base for apprehension and prosecution.
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“The guns in the hands of criminals should be recovered. Bushes should be combed through surveillance to do this. Technology should be deployed extensively by the security agents to apprehend the criminals in their hideouts, including the mercenaries that may be coming from outside the state.
“All sources of ammunition the bandits and killers are using should be investigated and blocked. Community healing, forgiveness and reconciliatory meetings should be held, bringing different ethnic groups in communities together to chart the way forward for peace.
“Your government should further strengthen the State Emergency Management Agency and the Kaduna State Peace Commission for the development and rebuilding of Southern Kaduna and other crises ridden areas.
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“A commission should be set up to cater for many orphans, widows and widowers whose future had been put in jeopardy as a result of the killings of their breadwinners. It is apparent that killings are noticed on both sides. Nonetheless, an increase in security forces be deployed to the troubled spots until lasting peace is restored.
“We cry out against the killings because of the negative image the continuous crisis is bringing to the state and our nation in the international community. If people say that it is religious or ethnic, we do not have the right to say they are foolish or should shut up because the continuing crisis has given them room to say whatever they are saying as long as the killings continue.
“So, the government is the one who has our trust and resources to secure our communities and we have the legitimate right to challenge the government to empirically convince us that it is doing that.”