By: Our Reporter,
A Press Release by Arewa Christians & Indigenous Pastors Association at TEKAN Headquarters premises, Jos, 28th July, 2017
Following the recent devicive, most provocation and dissident press Statement by the Arewa Consultative Youth Forum And their Allies, The Odua Youth and the Niger Delta position, all threatening the peaceful co existence of Nigeria, We are therefore Compelled to make our Position Unequivocally clear as follows:
1. NO TO SECESSIONIST THREATS
The attack on Igbos in the North is an attack on Christian in the north as well. We are aware of precedents in such antics. The quit notice to Igbos is a systematic attack to Subdue Christianity and Christians in the North with a gradual plan to overrun Nigeria.
Suffice it to say that the Igbo leadership should take a bold step to refrain from provoking the Psyche of Nigerians with the Biafra Secession threat, we call on our Igbo brothers and Sisters who are predominantly Christians to eschew the bitterness of never ever producing executive president either Military or Democratic since the first republic. While agreeing that their demand is Legitimate, holding Nigeria to ransom or threatening Nigeria with another secessionist agenda is unacceptable as it is counter productive.
The Igbo should rather resort to employing civil democratic norm of negotiation lobbying and politics of give and take to achieve their goals.
2. NO TO ANOTHER CIVIL WAR
The Nigeria Civic war Lasted from 6th July 1967 to 15th January 1970, a period of 2 years, 6 months, 2 weeks and 2 days. The costly war was regrettable and avoidable. Between 500,000 to 2 million Biafrans died mainly of starvation and military casualties on both Sides were over 100,000 officers and men not to mention properties lost. The trauma as well as the economic and social implication of the War on Both Side was incalculably enormous.
Perhaps the proponents and pundits of a second Biafra Could Benefit from Ojukwu’s Counsel long after the Biafra War, “I Don’t think the Second one (War ) is necessary. We should have learned from the first one, otherwise the dead would have been to no Avail….”
Like the Signals today, the Nigeria Civil War is a result of Political, Economic ethnic Cultural and Religious tension and distrust. Those behind the war never thought of the sad band wagon effect and Consequences of their actions.
3. TRUE FEDERALISM AND RULE OF LAW
Like other true patriots and majority of Nigerians, we believe true federalism with a weak Centre will help Stabilize the Polity and meet sectarian demands. In the Same Vain we call on government to ensure Social justice and rule of law are applicable norms and practice in our society. Nothing Short of the Global Obtainable standard will be acceptable by Nigerians from this or any future administration. We are prepared to encourage negotiation and dialogue
4. GRAZING RESERVE AND HERDSMEN
We are conscious of the effects of global warming and desertification on grazing in North. In view of these challenges amongst others, we appreciate and commend the contribution of cattle rearers to Nigeria’s’ commercial activities and agricultural sub-sector of the economy. However, the indigenous tribes in the North are predominantly farmers, like the South Western and Eastern Nigeria Indigenous people, all do not subscribe to the federal governments’ insistence upon a grazing reserve policy favorable to herdsmen as against indigenous farmers homeland.
In this regard, the ploy and plot to impose the National Grazing Reserve Council bill as a law without the consent of Nigerians through a referendum is unacceptable. In the alternative, state government or herdsmen should purchase land in their state(s) where the herdsmen are domiciled or octotonous for the purpose of grazing.
We call on the President, himself a Fulani and a grand leader of the Miyatil-Allah Cattle Rearers Association to use his influence and government security apparatus and also exploit the strategic unique communication and leadership network of the Fulani to check the menace by either foreign or local herdsmen.
Federal might should not be used to favor one group, ethnic or religious above the other. Indeed land owners and Indigenous people will resist any imposition on their ancestral homelands.
From our findings; as the cattle are dear to the herdsmen, so is the crop and farmland dear to the indigenous farmers. An attempt to impose herdsmen on farmers land through federal inducement or imposition will be done at the expense of peace and national unity.
From the narrative we heard, the modus operandi of the terrorist in this unconventional and guerilla type attacks on innocent Nigerians, they are nothing different than Hitler’s and his henchmen. While commending on our security forces efforts and sacrifices, much is needed to be done by the government to win the war on terrorism in Nigeria.
6. COMMENDING C.A.N, NACEF AND NOCEF
We appreciate and commend the role of C.A.N as the umbrella of Christians in Nigeria and the National Christian Elders Forum (NACEF) for their focus and keen interest in response to national issues thus keeping Nigeria in perspective.
We would have ignored the 17/7/17 release of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) director, however, to correct his complete ignorance and put the records straight, we hereby whish to let the self approval seeking and Psychopantic MURIC director to know the following:
a) While making it clear to MURIC and their sponsors that Christianity and Islam is not in contest for the soul of Nigeria, we do not also desire to join issues with MURIC director or help boost his ego.
b) MURIC does not only lack the ability to comprehend the issues raised by both C.A.N and the National Christian Elders Forum, but also lacks the where withal and standing to respond on behalf of the Nigerian Muslims.
c) MURIC and its director have publicly exhibited their lack of knowledge of the constitution of Nigeria as well as the role of the military and other security institutions in view of what constitutes national threat.
7. ENACT ANTI TERRORIST INVASION LAW AND MAKE EVIDENCE OF ARREST AND PROSECUTION PUBLIC.
We are totally against any future blood sheds in Nigeria we therefore Condemn all secessionist, invading terrorists and their Sponsor insistence upon disintegrating Nigeria for their group or personal gains.
It is on record that in 2014, 13,000 Christian were killed by insurgents, 4,780 in 2015 and between 2016 to date the number of Christians killed by insurgent is already in thousands. While calling on government to go beyond arresting the foot soldiers of terrorism to the arrest and persecution of their high profile sponsor, we demand an outright list of those arrested and those either being prosecuted or already convicted.
We also use this medium to demand that government should enact anti-terrorist infiltrators act mainly to tackle the menace of foreign terrorists disguised as herdsmen. Nigerian must block the prospect of foreign terrorist mercenaries or other forms of infiltrator coming into Nigeria under the Guise of being business men, Scholars, laborers or seasonal farmers who end up conspiring with local terrorist to wreck havoc on our innocent and peace loving citizens. The war on terrorism is far from being over with report of the recent dastardly killing and abductions nationwide.
8. IDENTIFY PROMOTERS OF TERRORISM AND PROFILE RADICAL RELIGIOUS SCHOLARS.
We are aware that some corrupt and desperate politicians are connected to the sponsor of secession and terrorism in Nigerian. Therefore, the searchlight of security organizations must be on such politicians and elites. It is sad and unimaginable that some sectional and religious chauvinists have lent their voices to anarchist, secessionist and terrorists. We therefore call on government without fear or favor to arrest and immediately prosecute the proponent of dissection and secession as well as their allies and sponsors.
The indoctrination of our children and youth on radicalized and insurgent ideologies must be stopped through identification of religious scholars profile in order to know those with radical ideologies from oversea studies, foreign sponsor or global terrorists’ network.
To put the record straight, there has been a systematic siege against Christians and Christianity in the North. Sharia has been used to cordon off Christian presence and acquisition of place of worship by some northern state Authorities.
We therefore call on leaders of thought in the concerned state to promptly ensure Christian are protected and given equal opportunities. Failure to do this may also provoke the Christians of the north to place their demand. Certainly, the long silence and tolerance of Christian in the north as the Cord that maintains the peace and sustained unity of Nigeria may be stretched too far.
9. NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER
It is with concern and love of our mother land and as a country founded by God and must be centered on God and the promotion of godly virtues and ideals that we demand a National day of prayer for both Christians and Muslims.
In this regard, we call on our Leaders, temporal and spiritual to revert the 29th May Democracy day to a National day of prayer
Since democracy is synonymous to liberty and freedom, the present democracy day should be observed along with the 1st October Independence Day.
10. FORCEFUL ABDUCTION, PERSECUTION OF CONVERTS, EXTRA-JUDICAIL KILLINGS OF CHRISTIANS AND PROVOCATIONS
While demanding the forceful abductions especially of Christian girls for forceful marriage and conversion to Islam, we also draw the attention of government at all levels and especially traditional institutions and Muslim clerics against the several reported cases of persecuting Muslims who choose to convert to Christianity.
It is on record that Christians despite several persecutions have never reacted. The most recent was the circulation of the conversion and preaching of one Rev. Bitrus Jatau in Kaduna State. Apart from the misleading reference to Bitrus Jatau as the reknown Bishop Peter Jatau, there was the provocative wrong and misleading reference to and interpretation of I Corinthians 15:19 by Bitrus Jatau ; who also lied that he personally converted a National Chairman Christian Pilgrims Board. We therefore, call on all Muslim faithful to borrow a leaf of restrain from provocation when a Muslim converts to Christianity. In compliance to the right of individuals of a choice of religious practice in accordance to the U.N charter on human rights and the Nigerian Constitution, we shall demand and pursue the legal rights of any Muslim who convert to Christianity.
Therefore, from today, we shall demand prosecution of any person, no matter how highly placed or institution found wanting in respect of the issues raised.
For the ignorant, Eccliastical or canon law of the Christians also permit self defense in a most profound and explicit terms.
Hence we are pleading that no one should be taken for granted. We therefore demand that all sponsors of religiously motivated extra judicial killing and their executors must be brought to book. Also, henceforth, such occurrences will not be tolerated in the future.
11. OPPRESING TRADITIONAL RULERS THAT ARE CHRISTIANS
We are aware of the important role of our traditional Institution in maintaining peace and promoting our Cultural Values. However we must draw attention to the deliberate and calculated process of undermining and reducing the influence, right and freedom of Northern Christian and Northern Traditional rulers Authorities. This has been done arbitrarily through subtle government policies and decisions. In some instanced district or villages are created out of Christian rulers’ domain to spite them. Indeed a lower ranking or equal ranking Muslim rulers is usually placed above Christian traditional rulers to spite Christianity and the Christian tradition rulers.
We are also aware of instances where in predominantly Christian dominated state like Nasarawa, Kaduna, Niger, Adamawa State due process of electing tradition ruler by king maker are truncated,, abused and rigged to Favor Muslim. These are being Carried out in order to Promote Islam Above Christianity. Hence Muslim not duely elected are forced on the people as tradition ruler in place of deserving and popular Christian Candidates.
We can no longer take the insult and denigration of our traditional rulers and institution. We hope the sacking of 4,775 District and village head In Kaduna State by the State Governor is not part of the Islamization agenda and the plan to obliterate Christian Indigenous peoples Traditional institution and Christian in the North.
12. EDUCATIONAL CURRICULUM
Under this administration, we have a Muslim minister of education and a Muslim head of Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) who have merged Christian Religious Studies and Islamic Religious Studies with other subject under Religious and National Values (RNV). However, Muslim students have three variables, namely, Islamic religious knowledge, Arabic Studies and Islamic history. This has dire implication to the church and the impartation of Christian moral values to our Children.
We appreciate the prompt response of our legislatures on the intervention through appropriate legislation directing the Ministry of Education to revert to the original status quo of the Religious Studies subjects in the curriculum of education.
We are therefore demanding the immediate inclusion of Hebrew and Greek Language as well as Church History to be added to subjects for Christian students at all levels in Secondary School to Aid our Children understand the Bible in its original context.
13. LOPSIDED APPOINTMENTS
The skewing of government policies at federal and some Northern States against Christians further confirmed our worries over the lopsided national appointment in favor of Muslims by this administration.
Unfortunately, it is the sentiment of tribe, region and religion that have drawn a setback on Nigeria’s pace of development due to wrong placement on specialized jobs and appointments.
Again the mentoring and grooming of youth as future leaders have dangerously taken the pre-independence pattern based on tribe, religion. We therefore call on patriots and nationalist to eschew ethnic and religious bitterness or rivalry in order to promote Nigeria Unity and greatness.
14. HEALTH OF PRESIDENT MOHAMADU BUHARI.
While commending the role of the Vice President, Osinbanjo at maintaining the peace while holding brief for the President who is on medical leave, we enjoin millions of Nigerians to join us to pray fervently for the recovery and return of Mr. President at the helm of affairs to perform his constitutional duty.
While praying for Mr. President we call on Nigerians at Home And Diaspora resist the sway and temptation of falling prey to dangerous scheming of religious bigots, regionalist and secessionist masquerading as patriots or Nationalists.
15. PROMOTING UNITY AND COMMON VALUE
Let’s go beyond the dividing gulf between Christians and Muslims and in the North. We call on Muslims to join us in promoting understanding, unity and security.
The common value of Northern heritage when harnessed can propel Nigeria to greater heights. The choice is ours. Like Martin Luther once said “we must live together as brothers or perish together as fools”.
We wish to use this opportunity to warn any foreign Saboteurs or agent provocateurs scheming the disintegration of Nigeria to immediately withdraw their scheme and tools. Their exercise is not only in futility but will backfire because Nigeria as it is constituted is in Gods’ end time Agenda.
Let us all be united in keeping with our national anthem, that “the labor of our heroes past shall never be in vain”
We are confident that Nigeria holds a greater promise for tomorrow that the dark history of yesterday or our current challenges may portray.
Rev. Luke Shehu