Dissatisfied that security agencies cannot protect Christians from the raging killings in Southern Kaduna and many parts of the country, the National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, has urged Christians to defend themselves and avert certain death in the hands of “jihadists.”
Condemning the raging cycle of violence and destruction against Christian communities in Northern Nigeria, Middle Belt, and other parts of the country, the NCEF, in a statement by its Chairman, Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, urged Christians to be alert and respond proactively.
The group also has as members former Minister of Defence, Lt.Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd), Prof. Joseph Otubu, Gen Joshua Dogonyaro, Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Dr Kate Okpareke, Dr Ayo Abifarin, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd), Justice Kalajine Anigbogu, Shyngle Wigwe, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and Priscilla Kuye, among others.
In the statement, titled: “Lay Faithful Trust Fund” the NCEF condoled families and individuals affected in the genocide recurring in Southern Kaduna among Christian indigenous ethnic nationalities.
“Having received sufficient signals from the security units that they are incapable of defending and protecting Christian lives, the Christian Elders are, therefore, mobilizing Nigerian Christian leaders to evolve measures to protect and defend themselves because self-defence is legal.
“Christian Social Movement of Nigeria, CSMN, made it clear in its paper titled, ’Born to rule to the graveyard’ that the Fulani ethnic nationality is still on jihad in Nigeria in the 21st century. The group targeted by this jihad is the non-Muslim population in Nigeria, particularly the Christians.’’
According to Asemota, this is confirmed by the pattern of the attacks, including the deliberate violation of the Federal Character Principle in Section 14 (3) of the Constitution on Federal appointments.
“During its meeting on July 23, 2020, NCEF reviewed the situation in the country and passed a resolution to revive the Christian Trust Fund, which was earlier handed over to CAN in 2014 but became moribund under its care in 2018,” he stated.
Speaking further, Asemota said: ‘’The Christian elders concluded at the said meeting that unless Christians have a central purse to fund Christian advocacy and Christian interventions, the jihadists shall continually be emboldened to pursue ruthless and relentless attacks on Christians at all levels.
“A coordinated and well funded Christian response has become imperative in 2020, much more than the situation warranted in 2014 when the Trust Fund was introduced and handed over to CAN.
“NCEF assures Christians and, indeed, all Nigerians that as Christian elders, the object of the Lay Faithful Trust Fund is not to exacerbate violence in the land through sponsoring counter violent measures but to pursue a deliberate non-violent plan of building Christian structures to promote peace, protect Christians, and ensure balance and order in the country.”
The NCEF has called on CSMN, the socio-political arm of the Church, to commence immediately the establishment of Lay Faithful Trust Fund in accordance with Article 14 (1a) of its Constitution to mobilize critical funding to defend Christians and also ensure the survival of democracy in Nigeria.
It notified heads of the five blocs of CAN, the President of CAN, as well as the General Secretary of CAN on the need to resuscitate Christian Trust Fund in the collective interest of Christians in Nigeria, hoping that the previous mishandling of CAN Trust Fund shall not recur in the church.
Similarly, a member of the British House of Lords has joined a growing number of Nigerians in the Diaspora and others from three continents to petition the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate “ongoing genocide” in parts of Nigeria which had been likened to images from Darfur.
Baroness Caroline Cox of the British House of Lords, a consistent and outspoken champion of global human rights and religious freedom, added her signature to the petition.
House of Lords member, Lord David Alton, equated the gory images from last week’s Southern Kaduna massacres to images from Darfur. The petition, titled: “ICC IS FAILING NIGERIA: Act Against Genocide Now” accused Madame Prosecutor of dragging ICC feet on genocide in Nigeria for too long.
The petitioners argued: “Till this date, your office has not identified and declared perpetrators of the terrorist genocide in Nigeria wanted, as you continue an endless ‘preliminary examination’, while atrocities continue on a daily basis.
“Nigeria has failed to adequately prosecute offenders or restitute victims. The same week of these atrocities, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari ‘reintegrated’ 601 Boko Haram terrorists and paid each N20,000, brand new clothes etc.’’
According to the petitioners, “in the space of a week, the people of Southern Kaduna experienced a devastating series of attacks in Nigeria’s pernicious mid-grade genocide. For your information, here are just some of the atrocities: Zipak, a semi-urban town in Fanstwam Chiefdom, Jemaa LGA in Southern Kaduna, suffered the killing of 10 people when the Fulani militia attacked at 7.00 pm, Friday, July 24, 2020.
“Though Zipak is just about two kilometres from the heart of Kafanchan where there is presence of a cantonment of the Army, Police and Paramilitary units, the attacking Militia had a field day.
“After looting and vandalizing the town, they burnt down parts of it and gruesomely murdered the following: Joel Cephas (5), Kingsley Raphael (28), Katung Kantiock (60), Luka Garba (75), Victor Ishaya (22), Madam Dakaci (52), Kuyet Yayock (25), Cecelia Audu (65), Matina Dauda (70), and Yanasan Dauda (70).
“The governor of Kaduna State immediately imposed a 24-hour curfew over the entire Jemmaa LGA. However, it was under the curfew that the Fulani militia returned on July 25, to wreak more havoc on the community still in shock and mourning from the previous day’s massacre.
“Also, as it rained around 8.00 pm, Thursday, July 23, 2020 at Agwala Magayaki of Doka Avong, Kajuru LGA in Southern Kaduna, armed Fulani militia took advantage of the darkness and torrential rain and attacked the village for the second time in a month, leaving seven persons dead,” they stated.
“Those killed in Kajuru included: John Mallam (80), Albarka Mallam, (85) Jumare Sule (76), Hannatu Garba (55), Thaddeus Albarka (32), Luvinus Danmori (52), and 70-year old Daniel Mukadas,” they further claimed, recalling that on June 20, 2020, the same village was invaded by the Fulani militia, some known by the villagers, and seven persons were killed.’’
Continuing, the petitioners said that on July 22, 2020, as it rained on Kizachi in Chawai chiefdom, Kauru LGA in Southern Kaduna, Fulani militia broke into homes, and attacked villagers with knives, daggers and matchetes.
They said in that encounter, the following people were killed: Kefas Monday (17), Lydia Monday (14), Jummai (9), Giwa Thomas (14), and Living Yohanna (27) bringing the number of harmless Southern Kaduna natives killed by Fulani to 23 in 72 hours.
This, according to the petitioners, is apart from over 40 murdered victims of Fulani militia in Kaura and Zangon Kataf, also in Southern Kaduna days earlier.
Community leaders stated that: “These and several others have created a humanitarian crisis in Chikun, Zangon Kataf, Kaura and Kajuru LGAs as thousands of IDPs can barely survive hunger, sickness and various trauma.
“It is, therefore, totally untrue that the mass murder of our people is an outcome of clashes between criminal gangs as portrayed by President Muhammadu Buhari, through his spokesman, Shehu Garba.
“Our victims are not members of criminal gangs, but mostly kids, women and the aged. The so-called formidable security arrangement he claimed to be in place in Southern Kaduna is at best, a ruse and a mirage, going by increasing casualties and the impunity of the Fulani armed men.
“We are under a genocidal campaign by Fulani Militia, who have become sacred cows with President Buhari and Governor Nasir El-rufai, who are both Fulani, twisting the truth to say the Fulani are on ‘reprisals.’ “
The petitioners also listed separate violent attacks on five Christian communities in Southern Kaduna that left dozens of innocent Christians dead and their houses burnt, maintaining that apart from the atrocities of the killer herdsmen in Nigeria’s northwest, terror group, Boko Haram, struck in the northeast as well.
“On Wednesday, July 22, Nigeria has cemented its record as a graveyard for aid workers with Boko Haram’s release of another execution video. The latest executions of five, maintain the statistics of one aid worker killed every quarter for the last 10 years straight — a factoid of grave concern for internationally protected persons.
“Luka Philibus was a 30 year old employee of an NGO. He was a member of EYN church (which has lost over 10,000 members to terrorism). He and his family (12 brothers and sisters and aged parents) have been displaced from their community in Gwoza, Borno State for six years. Luka began working for the NGO just last year. This is not the first time staff of the NGO have been abducted. Luka lasted seven weeks in captivity.
“Abdurhaman Bulama was also an Aid worker. Married with two children, his hospitality was legendary. A fellow Aid worker said that Abdulrhaman was a great guy. He even brought his wife to visit us in Maiduguri. I have visited almost everywhere in Northern Borno, from Dikwa, Marte, Gamboru-Ngala, Baga, Gozamala, Abadam, Ngazai, Gubio etc and have met so many people, but Mr Bulama is exceptional.
“He was a man you can count on any time. He was kidnapped by ISWAP on June 1, on his way to his hometown Monguno but never returned. He was a man of his words. I am so sad that Mr Abdulrhaman is amongst those Humanitarian Aide Workers cruelly assassinated by Boko Haram Terrorist group.” Bulama was Muslim.
Yakubu Ishaya Chirama is believed to be one of reportedly two men from Chibok who were amongst those executed. They were Christians.
It is to be noted that although Boko Haram’s stated objective is the extermination of Christianity, western democracy and imposition of an Islamist theocracy, Muslims are often collateral victims of the genocidal terrorism and Muslim government workers are subject to execution as well.
The execution video came days after the multiple bloody massacres in Kaduna which were also religious-based attacks. This compelling video from Southern Kaduna drives home the urgency of action to stem the genocide.
The petitioners stated further: “With regard to Fulani Herdsmen killings, there have been no arrests and prosecutions, despite thousands killed. Not since 2010 when killer Fulani herdsmen were imprisoned for the Dogo Nawaha massacre in Plateau State has anyone been convicted.
“We urge you, therefore, to make a determination that: Nigeria has failed the complementarity test and has not adequately addressed these crimes against humanity in domestic courts; that Nigeria’s mass release of Boko Haram suspects has actually engendered impunity and endangered communities further and that Nigeria’s failure to prosecute killer herdsmen is implicit support and or enabling of their genocidal actions, given Buhari’s own Fulani antecedents and activism.”
The petition was made available to newsmen by Emmanuel Ogebe, special counsel, Justice for Jos Project, US Nigeria Law Group, Washington.
Also, Southern Kaduna Elders Forum, led by Major General Zamani Lekwot (retd), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to stem the killings of innocent citizens in Southern Kaduna.
In a statement by Elder Peter Buba, the group said Southern Kaduna had been in the eye of the storm over incessant attacks and massive destruction of lives and property in the past few weeks, adding that as elders of the area and, indeed, Kaduna State, they were greatly disturbed by the unfolding tragedy ripping across the land.
The statement read: “We cannot, therefore, afford to continue sitting and folding our arms in the face of the continued violence that portends a bleak future for future generations. We have come to acknowledge SOKAPU as the voice and hope of Southern Kaduna. And we call on our people to support SOKAPU for the good work it has been doing.
“As everyone knows, in their oaths of office, Mr. President and all the 36 state governors undertook to create a conducive environment for the peaceful co-existence of all citizens, irrespective of creed, religious or ethnic, to ensure a seamless development and healthy growth of our country, given the fact that we have lived together in an integrated and symbiotic manner until the brutal invasion of our communities by those who government had come to confirm as foreign Fulani.
“What is happening in Southern Kaduna today and by extension some states of the federation, is at variance with the above laudable objective.
“We once again appeal to Mr. President to urgently intervene in a more effective way, given the magnitude and rapid spread of the killings, especially in the past five weeks, notwithstanding the 24 hours curfew imposed by the state governor.
“More troops and equipment should be deployed to Southern Kaduna to battle the situation urgently just as was done in Birnin Gwari and Katsina State.”
The group urged the President to call the Kaduna State governor to order to live up to the tenets of his office, being the Chief Security Officer of the state on this serious destruction of lives and property of citizens.
“What is more, he once publicly confirmed the knowledge of where the bandits come from and even paid them money to stop the killings which still persists on a massive scale.
“All in all, the heartless destruction of lives and property in Chikun, Kajuru Z/Kataf, Kauru, Kaura, Sanga, and Jemaa LGAs, despite the curfew, is a serious embarrassment which should worry the powers that be. The time for government to justify the confidence reposed in it by the people is therefore, overdue.”
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives from Southern Kaduna have disagreed with Governor Nasir El-Rufai on the causes and nature of the lingering crisis in the area which had claimed many lives, saying it was banditry and herdsmen/farmers clash.
The governor had at a security summit held at the Government House on Tuesday to find solutions to the Southern Kaduna killings, said what prompted the crisis was a clash between two communities over farmlands.
He had said: “The current crisis is a result of ‘the tragic aftermath of events of June 5, 2020, when youths from two communities clashed over farmlands in Zangon-Kataf and the upsurge of violence in the same area that started on 11 June 2020. Like an unwanted virus, the violence has spread to and has necessitated extraordinary measures in four local government areas in Southern Kaduna.”
However, at a briefing in Abuja yesterday, the lawmakers listed a number of factors.
Led by the Deputy Minority Whip of the House, Gideon Gwani representing Kaura federal constituency of Kaduna, the lawmakers said they were not privy to the governor’s position.
“Your first question has to do with what our governor, His Excellency Nasir el-Rufai, said yesterday (Tuesday). We are not privy to that information until now that you have declared it. As far as we are concerned, as members representing the various federal constituencies in that area, we want to tell you that what we have presented to you in our statement are clearly reasons that brought about the killings, it is not land.
“It is no longer news, that the people of Southern Kaduna, have become preys in their fatherland, they have consistently been invaded, slaughtered in cold blood, raped, killed and their properties destroyed and pillaged in public glare, with little success in investigating and apprehending the perpetrators of the said attacks.
“As representatives of the people, we have identified herdsmen and farmer clashes; forcible land grabbing by non-natives of Southern Kaduna; reprisal attacks; banditry and criminality as some of the major causes of the killings and hostilities in Southern Kaduna.
“These problems can only be solved if the rule of law is allowed to take its full course. Rule of Law entails adherence to the principles of supremacy of the law over all citizens and subjects in Nigeria, equality of all citizens and subjects before the law.
“While we note that these attacks are deeply rooted and multi-faceted in nature, the failure to investigate, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators has continued to embolden the attackers,” Gwani said.