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CAN warns government against execution of five Christians

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National President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Rev. Samson Ayokunle

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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked the Federal Government to caution the Adamawa State government against a hasty implementation of the death sentence handed to five Christian youths for allegedly killing a Fulani herdsman.

Justice Abdul-Azeez Waziri of the state’s High Court recently sentenced Alex Amos, Alheri Phanuel, Holy Boniface, Jerry Gideon and Jari Sabagi to death for culpable homicide.

The youths, on June 1, 2017, allegedly attacked three herdsmen, killed one of them, Adamu Buba, threw his corpse into a river, and maimed several cows.

CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, noted that while the umbrella Christian body does not support jungle justice or criminality, it regrets how hundreds of its members in Southern Kaduna, Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Enugu States and others have been killed and are still being killed daily by yet-to-be apprehended criminals parading as Fulani herdsmen.

In a statement, Ayokunle said: “Citizens stood helpless at the massacre of their peaceful fellow Nigerians and the international community watched in anguish how government’s security agencies could not bring the perpetrators of these heinous killings to book.”

CAN is shocked at the speed of light deployed by security and judicial officers in sentencing the alleged killers, he said.

“Why did the court discharge the alleged killers of Madam Bridget Agbahime on the orders of the Kano State government? Why have security officials not arrested those behind the killings of Christians in Southern Kaduna, while those arrested for the murder of Mrs. Eunice Elisha Olawale in Kubwa, Abuja, have been set free by the Nigeria Police?” Ayokunle asked.

He added that the association has asked its legal team to study the text of the judgment with a view to preventing a miscarriage of justice and a future recurrence.

The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) also urged government to tread cautiously on the matter.

Its National Publicity Secretary, Bishop Emmah Isong, said: “It sounds ridiculous that even when no herdsman has been arrested, prosecuted and condemned to death by any court in Nigeria for killing thousands of Christians in Benue, Taraba, Nassarawa and Kogi States, in Yola, Christians are being sentenced to death.”

Stressing PFN is not in support of illegality, Isong, noted: “It looks as if it is vengeance for a Yola court to condemn five Christians to death for allegedly killing a herdsman when herdsmen are rampaging everywhere, killing and maiming innocent Christians and going free. It is high time the Federal Government intervened and ensured those Christians are not killed, to forestall further religious conflict within that axis.”

Caritas Nigeria, an advocacy arm of the Catholic Church, also warned politicians to be “conscious of their utterances and actions, as wrong choices could escalate violence, which could plunge the West and Central African sub-regions into refugee theatres, as any major conflict in Nigeria has the potential to destabilise the entire continent. Dealing with the humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram and the ongoing crisis in the Middle Belt is bad enough,” it said in a statement in Calabar, signed by its National Director and Chief Executive Officer, Fr. Evaristus Bassey, yesterday, ahead World Refugee Day.

And to forestall any terror attack, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), yesterday, said efforts had been made to beef up security at major airports in the country.

FAAN, which manages all the 22 Federal Government-owned airports nationwide, said the measure was in respect of a recent report that terrorists were sneaking into Nigeria from Syria.

It came as security expert and consultant, retired Group Captain John Ojikutu noted: “Most of our airports, particularly Lagos, Kano, and many others are situated within uncontrolled urban development and complicated road network. The airport master plan has been distorted that you do not differentiate airport buildings from public or private buildings.”


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