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Northern Christians allege persecution, demand release of Leah Sharibu, others

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Leah Sharibu is a member of the terrorist group Boko Harm, led by Shekau.

Northern Christians yesterday alleged that the attacks and killings by the Boko Haram insurgents and herdsmen were directed at eliminating a section of the country and persecuting Christian faithful.

The Congress of Northern Nigeria Christians (CNNC) challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to end the killings, warning that it could lead to the disintegration of Nigeria.

Leaders of the congress lamented the circumstances surrounding the abduction and release of the Dapchi schoolgirls, saying for one of the victims, Miss Leah Sharibu, to still be held in captivity because of her Christian faith was an indication that the destruction project of Boko Haram was targeted at Christians.

At a press conference in Kaduna yesterday, Prof. Adamu Baiki, who led the Christian body, decried the impunity of the herdsmen on almost a daily basis across the Middle Belt states and other parts of the country.

His words: “This noxious issue has created some pertinent concern. It would appear as if a particular group of people is deliberately targeted for destruction. The consistency with which this occurs raises question in the minds of many objective observers.

“Cattle business is a personal one. The owners should take the option of ranching by paying for land to be used just like people interested in farming buy land to farm. CNNC abhors the thought of cattle colonies as being suggested in some quarters. It is unacceptable.”

He said the recent visit of Mr. President to the states where killings were prevalent would have a salutary effect on the people who had been devastated by the havoc that was visited on them.

Baiki said Buhari should be practically humane on what he saw during the short visit and stop the killers, even as the sources of the deadly weapons should be probed and the suppliers prosecuted.

On kidnappings and adoption of young Christians, he stated: “The northern landscape is replete with accounts of kidnappings, forceful adoption, conversion and forced marriages of Christian children.

“The CNNC has seen this ploy as a tactical plan to forcefully change the faith of our children and plunge their parents into an untenable situation. Forced conversion and marriages have become commonplace in many parts of the country. The constitution of Nigeria provides for freedom of worship and this provision must be allowed to prevail and without any molestation from any quarters.”

The body demanded the immediate release of the remaining girls and other victims.

Baiki continued: “It is ironical that the detained terrorists are being released in greater numbers in the name of de-radicalisation while their captives are still being held.

“Preventive measures should be taken to protect all girls’ boarding schools wherever they may be in the North. While we appreciate the timely government intervention and release of the Dapchi students, it is worthy of note that the experience is a worrisome signal that can happen anywhere at any time.

“CNNC is, however, dismayed to note that a valuable sector of the populace is being totally ignored as far as it concerns appointments, civil or political.

“Qualified and loyal citizens from the North who happen to be Christians are often turned away in their legitimate quest for jobs because of their faith.

By the same reason, they are denied promotions. This unfair treatment should not have any place in the 21st Century when all nations are seeking for quality and experienced hands to develop themselves.

“Northern state governments should please look into this matter and ensure that equity prevails in employment practices.”

As the 2019 general elections fast approach, CNNC noted: “Security agencies should realign their architecture so that the fear of the unknown that is usually the catalyst for people to migrate southward from the North and vice versa or to safer areas is checked and brought under control.”

On restructuring, the body noted that the current administration had taken the step of coming up with a position paper on the issue in such a way as to eradicate the ascendency of ethnicity and religion as the bases for administering the country.

“Restructuring should address and eliminate the national maladies that have afflicted Nigeria interminably,” it stated.


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