Gentlemen of the Press,
It is with heavy hearts that we now tell the world that we have again commemorated another major religious festival mourning the death of twelve of our beloved brothers and sisters that were murdered in cold blood at Asso in Jema’a Local government area of Kaduna State on April 15th, 2017. Others are in critical health conditions following that attack. We pray for God’s comfort to the families of the bereaved and divine intervention for the quick recovery of those surviving with varying degrees of bullet wounds.
We are so troubled on every side that at a time when we were supposed to be celebrating the suffering, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ for the sin of mankind at Easter, we were plunged into wailing, the anguish of soul, bitter cries and burying loved ones. Innocent souls were battered, their blood spilt on the ground as they were sent to their untimely graves through unprovoked attacks by people suspected to be armed herdsmen.
Our zone suffered similar attacks last December when Goska community and environs in Jema’a local government were attacked on the eve of Christmas and scores of people murdered with over 80 houses in the community razed down. Looking at all these happenings we are left to wonder what all these mean.
Apart from seeing these devilish works as systematic and deliberate attempts to chase us out of our land, are they not also targeted towards harassing us to stop practising our religion? In clear terms, we see this as sheer persecution of the Christian faith in Southern Kaduna. We, therefore, call on government and security agencies to, as a matter of urgency, act decisively towards ensuring that these acts of terrorism and persecution are checked to ensure we are guaranteed freedom of worship and practising our faith.
As Christians, we are peace-loving people. We have a long tradition of peaceful coexistence which is rooted in the Bible as taught by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We have also continued to stress to our congregations the need for forgiveness of past wickedness done to them by these enemies of peace and progress, and the need to embrace all and live peaceably with them. However, these continuous unprovoked attacks on innocent citizens where helpless men, women, youths and children are murdered by herdsmen wielding sophisticated weapons have the potency of overstretching our peaceful nature and tolerance level.
The government has spoken a lot about the efforts it has been making over time to curb these menace of unprovoked attacks on the peace-loving and law-abiding citizens of Southern Kaduna. But for these killings lingering right under the eyes of this government and the security agencies that have been deployed to the area since these renewed waves of violence from last year, leave so much to be desired.
Apart from these ongoing attacks which are a war that has been declared against our people, there are also some other dimension to this systematic war which are equally terrifying and worrisome. In most of our communities across the 8 local governments in Southern Kaduna, these herdsmen have deliberately and freely turned our farmlands with standing crops to their grazing reserves.
Go to places like Pasakori, Kagoro, Gidan Waya, Godogodo, Tudun Wada – Amere, Sanga and other places across our zone, you will see how our farmlands have been plundered by these herdsmen. Banana plantations, cassava, palm plantations, yam and other crops have been cleared by their cattle. Sometimes these herdsmen usually cut these cash crops down or uproot them for their cattle to feed on. Can you imagine the kind of hunger that is being programmed for the whole of Southern Kaduna by these ungodly practices?
At least, some of our people rear goats, pigs and other domestic animals too. But we do not let our animals roam to the point that they go into our neighbours standing crops and destroy them. And we cannot do anything to harm the herdsmen cattle either. Therefore, we call on government, security agencies and the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) in Kaduna state and other organizations to urgently see to it that these atrocities and evil acts of wickedness are halted.
Like our people do, these herdsmen may have to go to places where they can buy land and establish cattle ranches for themselves. We say this not because we don’t want them around us, but because of their constant unprovoked attacks on our people and also being aware of the fact that in core northern states like Kano, Katsina and other places, these herdsmen are not allowed to go about grazing their cattle freely and destroying crops. So, why must it be so in Southern Kaduna?
Most of our people that were attacked are yet to return home in many of our communities. This is either because their houses have been burnt down or the roofing sheets, doors, windows and other useful properties have been removed and carted away by the attacking herdsmen and their collaborators, or for the fear of being attacked if they return home. With all these happenings over time, there are more fears of further attacks, death and severe hunger looming over Southern Kaduna. No one is feeling safe at all.
We call on government at all levels, security agencies, local and international organizations to come to the rescue of our land. Our people should be guaranteed the security of their lives and properties which is a constitutional responsibility of government. Our farmlands which are our main source of livelihood should be protected from the invasion of herdsmen for the peace and development of our people and the state. We must also be protected and allowed to have freedom of worship and the right to practice our religion as it is enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Venerable John Bwankwot – Chairman
Pastor Michael I. Maikarfi – Secretary