By Ralph Madugu
“History will not overlook the failure of the present administration to fulfil its campaign promises to fix the security challenges.”
These were the words of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) while reacting to the abductions of Rev. Popoola David Kayode of Calvary Baptist Church, Kurmin Mashi, on July 6, 2021, and students of Bethel Baptist College, all in Kaduna State, by unknown gunmen.
A statement signed by its National General Secretary, Barrister Daramola Bade Joseph, said, “The unborn generation will be shocked by the government that was brutal to the peaceful protesters and ‘freedom fighters’ like Sunday Adeyemo (popularly called Sunday Igboho) but was lenient with the hardened criminals who were operating with impunity.”
CAN called on President Buhari to have a change of heart in his style of governance before it is too late, adding that he must stop a situation where pastors were becoming endangered species under his watch.
Rev. Kayode was abducted 24 hours after 140 students of Bethel Baptist High School, Damishin, Chukun Local Government suffered the same fate but, according to CAN, some of them reportedly escaped from their captors.
Gunmen had attacked the school at around 1.00 am, forced their way into the compound, abducted students and are now demanding for an N800 million ransom.
While calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, security agencies and the Kaduna State Government to ensure that the cleric was not murdered like the District Chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) and CAN Chairman of Michika Local Government in Adamawa State, Rev Lawan Andimi, CAN maintained that freeing him would be a litmus test for the Service Chiefs, especially the new Chief of Army Staff, Major General Yahaya Farouk, and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, as the whole world was watching to see if they would live up to expectations.
CAN argued that if the then American President, Donald Trump, could order his troops to rescue only one of their citizen kidnapped in far-away Nigeria, President Buhari had no excuse not to rescue this servant of God.
“Why should the government leave Nigerians to be at the mercy of the insurgents, bandits and kidnappers? What is the essence of having a government in place? The government that did everything to ensure that the leader of IPOBs, Nnamdi Kanu, was brought back to the country is strong enough to stop these criminalities if the political will is there.
“Mr. President, where shall we go from here? Have the criminals taken over where there is legitimate government? Though we are praying earnestly continuously, we know faith without hard work from the side of government is vain. While we are aware that you may be doing your best, your best is not good enough to Nigerians and in the eyes of the whole world. The bitter truth is that no place is safe again in this country.
“It is high time your government rose up to this menace of insecurity challenges occasioned by some criminals who are operating with impunity as terrorists, killer-herdsmen, bandits and armed robbers.”
CAN pointed out that the impression being created in the minds of the people was that the government knew these criminals but was treating them with kids gloves.
“For example, Sheik Ahmad Gumi has been having unholy romance with them publicly and making unguarded remarks about them yet the government is not bold enough to call him to order. All the grave allegations against Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy over his alleged relationship with some notorious religious extremist organisations like Al Qaeda were swept under the carpet by the government that wants the people to believe that it is fighting terrorism.”
The Association recalled how statements by Apostle Johnson Suleiman, Obadiah Mailafia, Prophet Isa El-Buba and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, were handled by security operatives and the Federal Government.
“Do we truly have sacred cows in the country now? We are curious to know how Gumi was able to locate the whereabouts of the bandits when our security agencies are giving us the impression that they are invincible. If the terrorists can be located by an individual, what hinders the police and the military from arresting them and bringing them to book? Is anyone in government conniving with the terrorists so that this insecurity might continue? Is Nigeria truly operating two laws?
“Now that bandits are being pampered, money is being made available to them and highly respected politicians and religious leaders are speaking for them. Who truly offended these terrorists? What sin did the people they are attacking and kidnapping commit against them? Why should anybody be speaking in favour of the terrorists? Nigeria’s unity is on trial and if those running the country are playing the ostrich, there may be no hope of redemption. May God save our nation.”
CAN called on all well-meaning people all over the world, irrespective of their faiths, to pray for the next seven days asking God to stop further attacks on the country by the bandits, kidnappers and terrorists, help government to be sensitive to the ordeals and yearnings of the people, end bandits’ attacks on schools and colleges and the release of all people being held captive by bandits and terrorists.