Defend yourselves against terrorists, Taraba governor tells Christians
• Military urges peace, deploys additional 200 troops
Amid the violence in southern Kaduna, Christians in the country have been advised to rise up to security challenges by defending themselves against attacks by terrorists.The Taraba State Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku who gave the advice said it would prevent terrorists’ killings.
The advice is an indication of a loss of confidence by some leading stakeholders in the ability and willingness of the government, through the security agents, to restore peace in the troubled communities so that social and economic activities can resume in southern Kaduna.
Ishaku, who spoke at a thanksgiving service organised by the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Taraba State chapter, to mark the New Year and mourn the victims of the southern Kaduna killings, said the only way to end the mayhem was for the Christians to stop running away but to defend themselves.
The governor spoke through the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Anthony Jellason. He noted that the deliberate and systematic massacre of Christians in southern Kaduna, the North East and other parts of the country by terrorists over the years calls for greater vigilance on the part of the people.
Citing the ongoing killings in Taraba by herdsmen, he said the government would continue to provide security, but added that the people must defend themselves.
The state CAN chairman, Benjamin Bukata Ube who noted that “ Christians in the country have been subjected to systematic attacks since 2009” said the government’s alleged indifference to the killings and destruction caused by suspected Fulani herdsmen was sending a dangerous signal that should be checked urgently by the international community.
He urged the Christian community to “match their prayers with actions” stressing that “faith is not only theoretical but also practical and requires action for full manifestation. Angels cannot come down from heaven to fight for the people.”
But the Council of Imams and Ulama in Kaduna State blamed officials of CAN and other opinion leaders for the crisis, alleging that their utterances fueled it.
Addressing journalists at a press conference in Kaduna yesterday, the chairman of the group, Sheikh Abubakar Babantune said: “To actualise their sentimental zeal by way of making insinuative statements that could destabilise the state, several news reports credited to southern Kaduna political and religious leaders urged their people to take arms to defend themselves and nothing was done to prevent its occurrence until the worse had happened.”
According to him, the situation in the troubled areas has degenerated “into senseless and merciless massacre of hundreds of Hausa/Fulani Muslims in that area.”
Babantune cited statements by ethnic and religious leaders which have led to the exacerbation of the crisis in southern Kaduna, urging the government to immediately arrest the culprits and prosecute them.
Meanwhile, the Commander of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Major- General Rogers Nicholas, advised the people of southern Kaduna to be patient and not take the laws into their own hands, saying security agencies were doing everything possible to protect lives and property.
OPSH, which was hitherto referred to as Special Task Force (STF), was deployed in Plateau during the numerous crises that engulfed the state in the past. The task force is also mandated to restore peace in Bogoro and Tafawa Belewa local governments of Bauchi State.
Nicholas, who was in the affected parts of southern Kaduna on Sunday, said the visit was to sensitise the people to the effect of taking arms against one another. He advised them to always be vigilant and report any suspicious characters in their midst, assuring them of the support of the task force.
The Chief of Godogodo community of Kaduna State, Iliya Antang and that of Bankin Kogi, Tanko Idi appreciated the task force for the visit, saying it strengthened them.
According to Antang, “our problems are very few and straight forward. We are farmers. We just want to be able to go to our farms safely and come back safely.”
The commander and his team were later taken round the affected areas where Nicholas told them that OPSH had deployed 200 soldiers in the restive communities to complement efforts of troops earlier sent by the 1 Division of the Army in Kaduna.