Southern Kaduna crisis: Defend yourselves, CAN scribe tells victims — Nigeria Today
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Southern Kaduna crisis: Defend yourselves, CAN scribe tells victims

Rev. Musa Asake is the National Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). In this interview with Saturday Sun, the clergyman spoke on Southern Kaduna crisis, the need for victims to arm and defend themselves, as well as the approach of the Federal and State Governments. He spoke further with FRED ITUA on these and other issues.

Nigerians believe that the leadership of CAN acted belatedly in Southern Kaduna crisis…

Is CAN the government? If CAN speaks, will the killings stop? CAN was not slow in acting. The CAN President addressed the nation and had living witnesses from areas affected in Southern Kaduna during the press conference. They gave their testimonies. CAN will always speak, it’s up to the government to act. Those saying that CAN has not spoken are the same people twisting what we say. We speak when it is relevant.

There is another claim that the figure of people killed in Southern Kaduna as bandied around by CAN is false. How true is this claim? 

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) is a leader and once God places you in a position of leadership, you must be careful. This is so because you are representing people. The statement by the IGP took sides. He was in Kafanchan and he was yet to return to Abuja when he started making those remarks. He is very wrong. The figure we released is lower than the number of people that have actually been killed. The report of the Catholic Church covered only up to the 16th of December, 2016. Between when the report was given and when the IGP visited, there were many killings. Figures will be released. I am glad that the IGP has set up a committee. If the committee is honest, we will get the real figure. If it gets to a point where we have to prove the truth, the mass graves are there. Let us go and dig them up. The IGP should be sensitive to the situation. To say that the district heads exaggerated the matter is an insult.

Do you think that security agencies have handled the situation well?

It is true that they took sides with the herdsmen. When the killings were going on, security agents did not move in. They will tell you that they are waiting for orders from above. This is why we will continue to insist that what is happening there is religious cleansing.When you have soldiers and policemen whose commanders are Muslims, what do you expect? There is an area in Southern Kaduna where herdsmen drove in few days ago. The youths came out with their sticks and daggers to protect themselves. The youths were prevented by soldiers. The soldiers did not go after the herdsmen. I can give you stories upon stories of the negligence of security agents. The security agents are not there to protect us. The security should improve. They should stop the herdsmen from killing our people. Where do these people come from? They allow them go in and when our youths come out, security agents stop them. They are taking sides with the herdsmen.

Southern Kaduna people have been urged to take up arms and defend themselves. Do you think that it is the right thing to do?

Defending yourself is the right thing to do. To me, we have preached to the young ones, but all we see is killing. They are trying to wipe us out completely. We have no choice, but to defend ourselves. I will continue to say it that any man who watches his family slaughtered and does not defend them commits a sin. You need to defend yourself. The herdsmen going around with AK47, where do they get them from? Who gives them the guns and how do they get to the place? These are questions the government is not answering. You attack an entire community and then turn around to tell us that we should live in peace, it is unacceptable. The insult is too much. It must stop.

What about the Governor, Nasir El-Rufai? Has he handled the situation well?

He has not done well. The Governor is in a position to stop this crisis.

How can he stop it when he does not control the security agencies? 

You heard that he briefed the President. We were told that the President agreed with him. If he did, it means the Governor is not handling the situation well.

What do you think the Governor has not handled well?

The Governor said that the herdsmen killing our people are foreigners. He said he had a meeting with them and paid them to stop the killings. What do you make out of that? For me, he did not pay them to stop the killings. He paid them to continue. The money the Governor is paying them is being used to buy arms by the herdsmen. If he knows them, why is he not arresting them? How many of them have been arrested? As long as this impunity continues, this madness will not stop.

Has the Governor met with Christian leaders to find a lasting solution to the problem? 

I am not aware of any meeting. Someone close to the Governor should advise him that whenever he is addressing people, he should choose his words carefully. If he does not choose his words, he is worsening the situation. When we say that people should defend themselves, the Governor terms it a hate speech. He cannot intimidate us. We have been pushed to the wall and no level of intimidation can shake us. Once you are in a political position, you are the leader of everybody. Those who did not elect you need to accept you as their leader. The Governor has been making inciting statements. Remember not long ago, he said Muslims in Kaduna State were 70 per cent compared to the population of Christians, which he put at 30 per cent. Where did he get the information from? Is he an Imam? He is the Governor of everybody. He should not be seen taking sides.

What about the recent order issued by a body of Imams that some Christian leaders, including you, should be arrested? What do you have to say? 

I am going to respond to that. Let the Imams talk to their people carrying out the killings. If I were to be a Muslim, I would have felt bad at this time. All these killings are done by Muslims and they have not stopped them. They expect us to remain stupid by keeping quiet? Is it because they have their people in government? We have God.

The Southern Kaduna crisis has been there for ages. As someone from there and as a Christian leader, how can this problem be solved?

The only way the problem can be solved is for our leaders to be very honest. They need to bring the perpetrators to book and punish them. They need to fish out these people carrying out the attacks and deal with them. That is the only solution to the crisis.

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This post was syndicated from The Sun News. Click here to read the full text on the original website.


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