Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, yesterday lamented the high level of insecurity in the country, saying life in Nigeria is tough as a result.
It also charged the Federal Government to do all within its powers to stem the tide of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes in the country, and warned northern leaders against making inflammatory statements.
ACF spoke on a day the papal Nuncio and Head of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, and representative of the Pope in Nigeria, Archbishop Anthony Guido Filipazzi, said the Federal Government has failed in its duties to protect Nigerians from violence in the country.
According to him, there is too much violence in the country that warrants the urgent attention of the government.
This is even as scores of persons, including civilians and at least seven security personnel, were killed on Tuesday by Boko Haram terrorists at Kukawa in Borno State.
Several of the insurgents also lost their lives in the fire-fight with the military during the attack.
Rising from a meeting of the new executive of the ACF, led by former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the ACF said in a communique issued at the end of the meeting: ‘’We have not faced this kind of challenge before. There are killings day and night. At no time has life been so tough, except during the civil war.’’
The communique, signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, also cautioned leaders against making utterances that could further aggravate the security situation in the country, adding that 78 percent of the land mass of the north had been enmeshed in killings resulting from violence perpetrated by insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other violent crimes.
Ruling out insinuations that the ACF was an ethnic, tribal, religious or a political organisation, the communique said governments at all levels must also get involved in the task to stop the killings across the country, especially in northern Nigeria.
‘’If we don’t save the north, we will lose it,’’ the Forum warned.
The communique read further: ‘’After careful deliberations on the chairman’s opening remarks and other items on the agenda, the National Working Committee adopted it and further resolved that: Northern states should take advantage of the N75 billion loan to farmers in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, under the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing in Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL.
‘’Northern state governments will do well to take advantage of such programmes. Because of the existing tensions and crises leading to a general sense of insecurity, destruction of property and killings in the north, religious, ethnic, traditional and political leaders in the north should be cautious in their utterances and refrain from making wild and inflammatory utterances that will aggravate the situation.
“Federal and state governments must take urgent steps to arrest the deteriorating security situation in northern Nigeria, which has led to insurgency, terrorism, banditry, ethnic and religious disturbances all over the north.
“The government, particularly state governments of the northern region should pay adequate attention to agriculture, which offers more opportunities for diversification and the development of a more sustainable economy for the north and the country.
“Schools enrolment have remained low in the northern region. State governors of the north should take urgent steps to enhance school enrolment and eradicate the rampant incidents of street begging, which is very unhealthy for the overall development of the north.
‘’Unemployment has become a big menace to the northern region. State governors are advised to design employment schemes for our teeming youths who have become frustrated and pose an additional threat to the security of the north and the country.
‘’State governors are also advised to key into programmes of the Federal Government designed to offer employment to the youth and alleviate poverty.”
Papal Nuncio’s take
Similarly, the Papal Nuncio and Head of Catholic Church in Nigeria, Archbishop Anthony Guido Filipazzi, said the Federal Government is not doing enough to protect Nigerians from violence in the country.
He also said killings in the country were not peculiar only to Christians or the Catholic Church but also Muslims.
According to him, government must wake up to its responsibilities of protecting the sanctity of human lives.
Archbishop Filipazzi spoke at a media briefing jointly addressed by the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria and the Bishop of Osogbo Catholic Diocese, Bishop John Akin Oyejola during the Nuncio’s visit to celebrate the Diocese’s 25 anniversary at Our Lady and St. Kizito Pastoral Centre, Ede, in Osun State yesterday.
The Pope’s representative in Nigeria said though the Southern Kaduna killings majorly affect Christians, the Church would not close its eyes to the fact that Muslims too were being killed in other parts of the northern region of the country.
He said rather than creating antagonism between Christians and Muslims, government should focus on protecting its citizenry from the violence ravaging the country.
“The killing in Southern Kaduna is not peculiar to the state but the whole of northern region. Although Southern Kaduna is an area where Christians and Catholics are mostly affected, however, it is important to note that many Muslims are also being killed in other parts of the north, such as Maiduguri, Borno State, where Boko Haram bombed many mosques.
‘’We should not be particular that only Christians are killed, Muslims are also victims. The mission of the state is to protect lives and we have to stop the problem of antagonism between Christians and Muslims.
‘’The point is that there is too much violence in Nigeria and the law seems not being enforced to bring the people to respect the law, respect the life and properties of everybody,” he said.
Commenting on the prolonged lockdown of the Church due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Nuncio said it was wrong to have introduced measures regarding how people enter into the Church to serve God, when markets were not regulated and the street always crowded.
He said no study attributed the spread of the virus to the church anywhere in the world.
“The authorities introduced different measures to regulate church activities while markets were not closed, transportation activities were left unchecked, the streets were crowded but unfortunately, the Church is highly regulated when there was no study throughout the world that it is responsible for the spread of the pandemic,” he said.
Speaking on the progress of the Church within the 25 years of its existence, Bishop Oyejola said the church had grown from a diocese of just 16 priests to over 70, while schools and hospitals within the diocese are on the increase.
He added: “During this pandemic lockdown, the diocese spent over N14 million to feed the poor. Schools and hospitals are growing in numbers. However, the Church is not rich for us but rich to serve the people.’
Meanwhile, unspecified number of innocent civilians and security operatives, mostly soldiers, were feared dead in the latest Boko Haram attack on Kukawa Local Government Headquarters of Borno State, according to sources.
It was also learned that scores of the insurgents were killed by troops during the attack that occurred on Tuesday night.
Kukawa in northern Borno is the town where Governor Babagana Zulum’s convoy was attacked by gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram, on his way to Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps at Baga.
Contacted to react to the attack, Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said: “ I am working on details of the attacks, and will get back to you as soon as possible.’’
However, at press time, he was yet to get across.
The insurgents had earlier on Monday, attacked Magumeri where a lactating mother was killed in a cross fire, as she was hit by a stray bullet.
Some farming implements provided by the state government to the council for farmers for this year’s cropping season were also razed.
Although many residents who survived the attack, commended the efforts of the troops, led by Major Manga of the special forces who repelled the attack, and minimized number of casualties.
Speaking to our correspondent on the telephone, the member representing Magumeri, Gubio and Kaga federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Usman Zannah, lamented the fresh attacks and terrorist act by Boko Haram in the area.
He said: “Yes I can confirm to you that at about 4pm on (Monday), some heavily armed Boko Haram terrorists attacked our communities in Magumeri where they succeeded in killing a lactating mother, injuring many others.
“The attackers also razed down the only General Hospital, which is the only functional medical /health facility in the whole of Magumeri.”
“But I want to seize this opportunity to thank the troops who repelled the attack, otherwise the attack would have been more devastating.’’
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