Christian leaders fear “another needless civil war” in Nigeria
The Christian Association of Nigeria has warned that unless “President Muhammadu Buhari, the northern Emirs and the patrons of Miyetti Allah” rise up to the occasion of preventing the killing of Christians and destruction of Christian communities in the central region of the country,” Nigeria will be “going into another needless civil war.”
Addressing a news conference in Jalingo, Taraba State, north eastern Nigeria, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said Christians are “worried over the renewed killings of innocent peasant Christian farmers in the state without provocation and the conspiracy of silence by the federal government and the police authorities.
The church leaders said, in a press conference (16 January): “Last week, over 60 people were killed across several communities in Lau, 11 others were killed in Wukari, 3 in Donga and 6 in Gassol local government areas. There are more than 10, 000 IDPs at various camps in Jalingo, Abare, Kunini and other villages, while dozens of others are receiving treatment at the Specialist and Federal Medical Centre in Jalingo.”
The CAN chairman in the state, Rev. Ben Ubeh, accused the police of underreporting the number of casualties.
“In the attack in Lau, police confirmed that only 12 people were killed, and despite the fact that most National Dailies reported the mass burial of 29 people and over 31 bodies that were buried separately, the federal government has maintained a golden silence on the killings in the state.” He reiterated. “What does the police want to achieve by playing down the number of those killed? Are they doing it to please their pay master the federal government? Does the life of ordinary Nigerians not worth being protected by the federal government? This is why we smear a conspiracy between the police and the federal government over the recent killings in the state.”
The Taraba State Police commissioner, denied underreporting numbers stating the police only reported what they had seen.
The General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) the Rev Dr Musa Asake, told journalists in Abuja on the same day (16 January) that Nigeria’s security system had become ‘dysfunctional’.
The Christian body noted the government, has failed “to come up with an efficient and enduring system that can overwhelm the resurgence of Boko Haram, Gunmen and Fulani Herdsmen who are prowling villages, shooting and killing innocent Christians. Instead the IG (Inspector General of Police) whenever there is killings going on his men on ground in that particular area will be looking the other way and if asked they will say they are waiting for order from above.” Asake said.
The CAN general Secretary, Asake said, “The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reviewed the catalogue of horrendous and inhuman attacks on several states and mostly Benue State from 2013 – 2018. The impression has now been firmly established that the Islamists of northern Nigerian have “legalized jihad” in Nigeria.”
The pattern of killings across the middle belt and central Nigeria, “suggests collusion of the Security Units with the Islamists militia operating under such names as Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, “unknown gunmen”, and “group of vandals”.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos