The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has called on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to order military officers to stop the use of live bullets in quelling civil disturbances.
The association made the call during a visit to the presidential villa, Abuja on Friday.
In a statement containing the speech delivered by the CAN’s president, Samson Ayokunle, the association also demanded the release of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and the Shiite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaki.
Both men have remained in detention since their arrest by security officers in December, 2015.
While the federal government appealed an order for Mr El-Zakzaki’s release days after the courts ultimatum had expired, the attorney general, Abubakar Malami, has said that government cannot release Mr Dasuki.
During a recent protest by Shiite members in Abuja, military officials killed over 40 of the group’s members.
“Total adherence to the rule of law as is required by our constitution and full blown democracy by making sure that those whose bails have been granted by competent courts like Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and Leader of the Shiites, Malam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky are released from detention to enjoy the bail granted them by the courts of law. This would ease tension in the land and give credit to your administration, together with respect from the international community.
“A Presidential order directing the Army to stop using live bullets in quelling civil disturbances and an order to the Police to provide protection to any group of people engaging in peaceful protest as the law and modern day democracy allow.”
CAN also demanded a presidential order from Mr Buhari for military officers to ensure the release of Dapchi Schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, who was left behind after over 100 people were kidnapped from her school, by terrorists in February.
Ms Sharibu was reportedly left back with the terrorist for refusing to denounce her faith.
Although the Buhari administrators has made several statements, expressing its commitment to the release of Miss Sharibu, the girl is still in hands of captors nearly ten months after she was taken.
“More importantly sir, issue a presidential order to the security agencies to secure the release of Miss Leah Sharibu, who has been in the captivity of Boko Haram, and the remaining 112 Chibok girls and other innocent Nigerians still held by terrorists’ organizations.”
They also urged the president to ensure that military officers protect peaceful protesters across Nigeria.
The association also wants the president to direct police officers to ensure a free and fair election in 2019, while observing their constitutional role of ensuring law and order within Nigeria’s internal territory.
“A presidential order to the Police and other security agencies to be non-partisan, neutral and apolitical in the coming general election with a view to securing international respect and honour for our country in the comity of nations. The degree of desperation we saw in the politicians during the intra-party elections that took place recently do not give many people hope concerning 2019 unless serious steps are taken to let decency prevail.
“We appeal to you to make sure that the law enforcement agents and the election umpire do their work professionally without intimidation of voters, manipulation and any trace of violence throughout the period of elections. We believe that the survival and peace of Nigeria are greater than the ambition of any politician.
“We again request that your administration conducts free and fair election that would add to the accolades the country received from the conduct of 2015 elections that brought you to power.
It also requested for the “Restoration of peace and sanity in troubled spots in the country, especially in the States of Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna and Zamfara.”
The statement further highlighted that the president ensures the “Enhancement of security and flushing out of attackers in many towns as is in Gashish District on the Plateau, in order to allow sacked communities in the various IDP camps return to their towns and villages.”
CAN, in its statement, commended Mr Buhari’s administration for its efforts at combating terrorist activities and corruption in the country. The Christian association acknowledged the considerable success in the war against terrorism but added that a lot is still necessary to prevent future reintegration of the terror groups.
“We urge your administration to invest more on intelligence gathering and ensure that our security agents work on them, before the terrorists would strike.”
CAN also demanded the setting up of a panel to investigate the various killings in Nigeria’s north central.
“Setting up of a judicial panel of enquiry to look into the incessant killings in the North-central with a view to unmasking perpetrators and bringing them to book to serve as deterrent to others.
“One of the terms of reference of the judicial panel, if accepted, should be to investigate the killing of the immediate Director of Administration of the Army, Major General Idris Alkali (rtd), and circumstances surrounding the kidnap and killing of the Paramount Chief of the Adara Chiefdom in Kaduna State, His Royal Highness, the Agom Adara, Dr. Maiwada Raphael Galadima.”
Shell Donates Subsea Training Facilities To UNIPORT
The Nigeria deep-water arm of global energy giant, Shell, has donated multimillion naira laboratory equipment and software packages to the Offshore Technology Institute of the University of Port Harcourt as part of the company’s Nigerian content human capital development programme delivered in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Speaking at a ceremony to hand over the facilities to the university, last Thursday, Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), Mrs. Elohor Aiboni, said, “The donations are aimed at strengthening advanced practical teaching and research in subsea engineering to give the students the required skills and competences for entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry”.
The facilities, valued at over $700,000, are in alignment with the Human Capacity Development Guideline of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Aiboni, represented by SNEPCo’s Social Investment Manager, Dr. Gloria Udoh, expressed optimism that with the level of investment by NNPC and SNEPCo in deep-water training via the establishment centres of excellence and donation of cutting-edge information and communication technology centres, among others, Nigerian oil and gas industry would surpass its local content aspiration earlier than projected.
“This investment anchored on the maintenance of subsea infrastructure on Nigeria’s pioneer deep offshore field, Bonga, is expected to develop and upskill the cognitive and technical abilities of students who pass through the Offshore Technology Institute for the ultimate benefit of our industry and of our country,” Aiboni added.
With the new laboratory and software packages, according to Aiboni, the Offshore Technology Institute is positioned to deliver effective training in engineering design; construction and installation of offshore and subsea structures; computer simulations; civil and construction tests; 3D printing/engravement capability; Measurement/Metering Technology and Robotics; Alternative Energy Technologies; and Data Acquisition Learning System.
In his remarks, Vice Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Onwunari Georgewill, commended NNPC and SNEPCo with its co-venture partners for their goodwill to the university and particularly to OTI, and canvassed more areas of collaboration between the university and its industry partners.
Georgewell said, “This project’s completion is timely because it latches on to the university’s leadership philosophy, which focuses on advancing education through an integrated learning environment to produce industry-ready university graduates and workforce.
“The current administration of the university places a lot of emphasis on university and industry collaboration and partnership. This donation will therefore enhance the achievement of the postgraduate degree-awarding Offshore Technological Institute in the practical context.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, described the human capital initiatives of SNEPCo as commendable.
Wabote added, “I commend your remarkable and consistent collaboration and partnership with the NCDMB towards the development of in-country capacities and capabilities.”
Represented by NCDMB General Manager, Corporate Service and Logistics, Mr Halilu Abdulmalik, Wabote said, “Your Nigerian content initiatives are consistent with the objectives and aspirations of NCDMB’s 10-year strategic roadmap, and we hope that necessary adjustments will be made to the curriculum to ensure optimal utilization by students in the university community.”
Obasanjo, Osinbajo, Wike, Others Bag CAN Awards
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and Mummy Esther Ajayi, were among prominent Nigerians who received awards at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sapphire awards in Abuja, last weekend.
Others, including Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, and Chief Arthur Eze, also received awards at the event; while the kidnapped Dapchi school, Leah Sharibu, won in the Young Christian Achiever award category.
Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, and Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa, and some Christian governors, serving and past National Assembly members bagged awards.
The awards were part of activities for CAN’s 45th Anniversary Sapphire Celebration Dinner and Award Night.
Earlier in his welcome address, CAN National President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, had said that the gathering was to celebrate 45 years of the church in Nigeria.
He said that Governance Category awards were for Christians in politics who had shown excellent and remarkable services.
“These include past presidents, serving governors and senators in our assessment that deserve such award.
“An award ceremony is applause of vision, personal discipline and determination; it is an event like this that makes people feel that their works are valued.
“The award is a catalyst that is expected to reinforce the awardees to serve humanity more and more,’’ he said.
The CAN president said it was heart breaking that majority of those in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were Christians who were displaced by religious fanatics, bandits and gunmen in their territories.
He solicited the awardees’ financial support in fulfilling some of CAN’s obligations to fellow Christians and bringing to fruition the association’s projects.
Obasanjo, who was represented by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, was the special guest of honour at the awards.
Obasanjo said that the award was significant in that it would encourage other citizens to serve humanity, adding “I will continue to do the best I can to uphold the principles of justice, love, equity, mutual respect, industry and the fear of God which epitomise the church of Christ until there’s no breath left in me.”
While showing appreciation to CAN on behalf of all the award recipients, VP Osinbajo said Nigerians needed to be more tolerant of other people’s views.
The vice president dedicated the award to those who, daily in different locations, distant and near, propagated the message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes in difficult and life-threatening situations.
He said that the awardees were not necessarily the most deserving of Christians to be given any recognition but by the special grace of God which placed them in the high capacity they served.
He said, “As we have seen in the past few years, there’s a growing ethnic and religious chauvinism, and almost intemperate, vehement and violent dismissal of the views of people of other persuasions and faith without adequate consideration.
“At the same time, there is also the rise of cultural and identity politics. The answer to hate and intolerance and conflicts is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must believe enough in it, to live it out as our article of faith.
“The gospel commands consideration of the views of others, treating them we would wish to be treated. Our words must be of grace, seasoned with salt.
“We must remain constant and relentless advocates of freedom of worship, respect for human rights, fairness, justice, rule of law because they are fundamental to peace and security. We cannot talk of peace and security without fairness and justice, and compliance with the rule of law.
“We are in the advantageous position that our contribution will be more easily noticed.
“So, this award is dedicated to the men who, daily in different locations, distant and near propagate this message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in sometimes even difficult and life-threatening situations.
“And to many who have suffered deprivations, the families of those who have lost their lives by reason of their belief.
“And we are deeply grateful to the Almighty God for the opportunity and enablement to serve in the positions to which we have been referred.
“I bring, also, the very warm felicitations of the President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 45th anniversary of the birth of this foremost association of Nigerian Christians.
“CAN was formed to, among other objectives, nurture the unity of the church in Nigeria and to work with the leaders of other faith and persuasions to build bridges and forge understanding, peace and unity among the various people and faith in our nation.
“CAN has not only been continually faithful to its founding vision, it has become a veritable force for peace, for unity and for social justice.
“Pursuant to the gospel, CAN has consistently spoken up on behalf of the least of those in our society,’’ he said.
He said that the current and past leaderships of CAN had acted in full realiasation and recognition of their roles as pivotal stakeholders alongside the government and private sector in nation building.
Earlier, Senator Rochas Okorocha, who noted the dire financial condition of the umbrella Christian organisation in the country, advised clerics to tone down their criticism of those in authority.
He said, “I just want to caution some Christian pastors concerning the way we use our pulpit and the kind of fire of insults and abuses that comes from there. When you abuse those who will give you money where will you get the money.
“The Bible says to pray for those in authority. You need to draw your leaders close. When you draw us closer and tell us what your problems are, it will energise us to help. Money will flow more than you need.”
Also, Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who sheltered no fewer than 200 Christians in Barkin Ladi, Plateau, during an attack, was presented with the Special Recognition award.
The late Obadiah Mailafia, former CBN Deputy Governor, was given a post-humous award of Spokesperson for Oppressed alongside Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana.
Awards were also given to best candidates in the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Senior School Certificate Examination.
Highlight of the event was the cutting of the anniversary cake.
Bandits Free 10 More Kaduna Baptist Students, Keep 11
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, confirmed that 10 more students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna State have been released.
The Vice President of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja) and its Chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. Joseph John Hayab, said this in a short WhatsApp message to newsmen.
He said, “Ten more students of Baptist High School were released this afternoon. We have 11 now with bandits.
“We are thanking all Nigerians for their prayers and support.
“We are trusting God that the rest will be released very soon. All have been reunited with their parents.”
Earlier, 10 students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna were released on Saturday, September 18, after spending 74 days captivity of terrorists, with 22 others still being held.
Hayab had said, “10 students were released this (Saturday) evening and have reunited with their parents. We are now hoping for the remaining 21 who are still with the bandits.”
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