The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, described as ‘highly suspicious and alarming’ the wanton attacks on Southern Kaduna people.
The CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, in a statement, said the ongoing crisis in Southern Kaduna shows Nigeria at war with internal enemies of the state.
He said despite assurances from both the federal and Kaduna State governments to nip the crisis in the bud, the spiralling of the attacks indicate that the perpetrators are yet to sheathe their swords against communities in Southern Kaduna.
Ayokunle said, “There is no doubt that the victims of these incessant assaults are indigenes of Kaduna State who are mostly Christians.
“Why is it the predominantly Christian Southern Kaduna all the time? Don’t we have Northern Kaduna?
“While the senseless murder is not desirable in any part of the state or Nigeria, the continuous assault of the Southern Kaduna people has become highly suspicious and alarming. Only a fool or somebody who is a party to this evil would not know that there is something fishing.
“The leadership of CAN expressed shock when the presidency described the current bloodshed in Southern Kaduna as politically motivated coupled with banditry deployed along ethnic and religious lines.
“Where is the statistical evidence for that? Who are politicians sponsoring this inhuman and callous act? Why have the Federal authorities failed to apprehend or name them? Do they have the right to be doing this scot-free if it is true?”
The CAN President, therefore, described the bloodbaths in southern Kaduna as acts of criminality that should attract severe sanctions.
He said, moreover, the lacklustre disposition of the government in stopping further massacre of Christians and decimation of their communities by terrorist herdsmen speaks volumes on how it values human lives.
“Should the gunmen and terrorists be more powerful than a legitimate government? Why couldn’t the Kaduna State Government with Federal authorities go into the bush where these herdsmen are and apprehend them? Why couldn’t they mop up the ammunition with which they are doing havoc?
“We have discovered that whenever security personnel get deployed to a place, the herdsmen go to other villages to attack and kill people in their sleep or when they are about to sleep or when they are waking up. Should the criminals be more professional in tactics than the government trained security personnel?
“It is regrettable that despite assurances from Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai to bring perpetrators of the Southern Kaduna crimes to justice, the state and security agencies involved in the maintenance of law and order are yet to fulfil their pledge.
“If our leaders are not able to nip evil in the board, then, why are they there? Should they be there for jamboree? Why do we call them ‘His Excellency’ when they cannot guarantee our security?”
Ayokunle, equally, urged the federal government to address the constant murders and ethnic war going on in Taraba State. And, the constant herdsmen’s attack on people of Benue State and the banditry in the entire Northwest.
“If the size of our security agents is too small to effectively secure the lives of the citizens of this country, why can’t the Federal Government engage more people? We have millions of young people who are jobless and are ready to defend their nation against internal and external aggression.
“The time is now for those God has committed leadership to their hands to show pragmatism and commitment.
“We have no other people to look up to for security than those of you in government. That was one of the reasons we put you there for all of us.”
Ayokunle warned that Nigerians should not be allowed to resort to self-help.
However, he stressed that if the situation is not addressed, self-help might be the alternative.
“As umbrella body for Christians in Nigeria, we share in the pains of victims of terror, particularly, those terrorized in Southern Kaduna and other communities.
“There is the urgent need by government and the security forces to walk their talk. They should combat the raging insecurity squarely across Kaduna state and other parts of the country.
“The government should not think that we are not appreciative of their efforts. However, we say without mincing words that your present best is unacceptable. It is not the best Nigerians expect. How can we see and read about mass burials and be happy when we are not fighting a civil war? We deserve peace in Nigeria.”
He said CAN will keep praying for government to find courage to tackle the insecurity giving Nigeria negative image abroad.
Meanwhile, the Commander of Operation Safe Haven, Maj-Gen Chukwuemeka Okonkwo has denied the killings in Southern Kaduna as ethnic cleansing.
The killing, he said, were activities of criminal elements on both sides.
On his part, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, said his administration has done everything within its constitutional powers to bring peace in Southern Kaduna and all parts of the state for over five years.
Okonkwo and El-Rufai spoke at a high level security meeting at the Executive Council Chambers of Government House, Kaduna, yesterday.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Okonkwo said: ‘’What we have were attacks on some communities and reprisal attacks.’’
According to him, both sides of the conflict have been attacking each other but ‘’the reports are not balanced. Perhaps, most of the media houses don’t know, both sides are actually involved.
‘’You have Kataf youths, Fulani militias and the criminal elements of both sides.
“Some people are also leveraging on the security situation to perpetuate their criminal activities, aside communities involved in the crisis,’’ Okonkwo added.
‘Senate Begins Constitution Review After Sallah’
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has said that work on altering the Constitution would commence after the Sallah break.
Omo-Agege, who chairs the Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, disclosed this when two groups – Women Education Advocacy and Development Initiative (WEADI) and League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NILOWV) – paid him courtesy visits in Abuja.
He stated that rights of women and the girl-child would be protected in the exercise.
He added that his committee would take into account experiences from other African countries.
“Immediately after the Sallah, we are going to hit the ground running with Constitution review exercise. And there are a lot of bills dealing with women rights advancement.
“We will take the Ugandan and Rwandan experiences into account to see how we can meet up with the agitation of our women in the Constitution review exercise,” he stated.
Omo-Agege had said that Sexual Harassment Bill recently passed by the Senate was not targeted at lecturers in higher institutions of learning.
He said the bill was to flush out the few bad eggs tarnishing the image of their colleagues.
The lawmaker regretted that few educators were soiling the image of their colleagues, majority of whom he described as “decent”.
He said: “This bill is not targeted at our lecturers in tertiary institutions. To the extent that it is targeted at anybody, it is targeted at the errant few, the few predators in their midst. And we have them everywhere.
“So, this bill is targeted at the very insignificant few who cause most of these atrocities and we have decided that we should put a stop to it. I am sure that even most of these lecturers know that they are not the target.”
He expressed optimism that given the level of overwhelming support from the Presidency, it would get presidential assent once it receives concurrence from the House of Representatives.
The Bill to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions, 2020, which was passed by the Senate at its sitting on July 7, 2020, prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and prescribes jail term ranging from two to 14 years for various degrees of offences.
Sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate and co-sponsored by 106 lawmakers, the proposed legislation also prescribes N5million fine for offenders.
When signed into law, any educator who whistles or winks at a student or makes sexually-complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique would be liable to two years imprisonment or a fine of N1million, if found guilty.
Court Bars NDDC From Executing Projects Without RSG Consent
A state High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to always seek the consent of the Rivers State Government before the execution of projects in any part of the state.
This was the judgment of the state High Court presided over by Justice Adolphus Enebeli, last Wednesday, in a suit by the Rivers State Government, Governor Nyesom Wike, and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State against the NDDC, and its former Managing Director, Nsima Ekere; former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Derick Meene; and others instituted in 2017.
Justice Enebeli, in his ruling in the matter, granted a declaration sought by the claimants that under Rivers State Physical Planning Law, Rivers State Land Law, and Rivers State Urban Development Law, the NDDC or its agents have no power to claim any land or execute any project, including street lights, water supply, road, jetty, and other infrastructures in any part of Rivers State without the consent of the government.
The court, however, refused to grant the declaration sought by the claimants to invalidate or void Section 7 and 8 of the NDDC Act, which borders on the developmental roadmap of the nine states of the Niger Delta region without recourse to other Niger Delta states.
Justice Enebeli said the proposed 60 projects for execution across the state by the then NDDC-led management team, which was the subject of the litigation, if allowed, will affect urban development and undermine the Land Use Act as applicable to Rivers State.
He, therefore, ruled that there was need for the commission to seek the consent of the state government for the execution of such projects in the state as development agents.
COVID-19: Group Provides Palliatives To Andoni Vulnerables
Some prominent sons and daughters of Ikuru Town, Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State under the aegis of Illustrious Sons and Daughters of Ikuru Town have donated Palliatives worth millions of naira to indigenes of the community.
The palliatives include thousands of bags of garri, face masks and others.
Some members of the organisation which include, Engr Emiyare Ikuru, chief Ndeng Ofik, Chief William Mike Omani, and Architect Ntimam Finomo told newsmen during the distribution exercise that the gesture was to cushion the effect of hunger in the community as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Engr Ikuru particularly told newsmen that the exercise was the first of a series of programmes outlined for the community by its prominent sons and daughters.
According to him, the second phase of the programme will start within the next few months.
Meanwhile, the Okan-Ama of Ikuru Town, King Aaron Ikuru has charged indigenes of the community to observe all protocols against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The King who spoke to newsmen during the distribution exercise said protocols put in place by government to check the spread of the disease were not meant to punish anyone.
He commended the illustrious sons and daughters of the community for the gesture and urged other illustrious sons and daughters of other communities in Andoni to emulate their counterparts in Ikuru Town by doing the same to their people.
A cross section of beneficiaries made up mostly of women and other vulnerable groups commended the donors for the gesture.