Friday, May 27, 2011

Dilemma for Bauchi Pastors – “To carry guns or remain unarmed”

As a Bauchi Pastor was being handed an 18-month jail term for possessing guns for deterring Islamic attackers, other Pastors in the state who chose to remain unarmed continued to be sitting ducks for Islamic militants.
Pastor John Andrew of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), in Dass Local Government, Bauchi State, after being attacked thrice by Islamic militants thought it was time he procured an AK47 riffle.. “When I got the arms, I thought of using them to protect myself and members of my family, because of the incessant attacks on us, by some unidentified persons,” he told journalists.
According to The Sun (March 8) Pastor Andrew was full of remorse as he explained why he resorted to procuring a gun for self-defense: “Honestly, I’m sorry, particularly, to the members of my church, who I have always told to be peaceful and law-abiding citizens. Also, I have always told them to learn how to live peacefully with their neighbours, irrespective of the level of provocation. But we were being attacked on regular basis, and you know, we in the villages need to protect ourselves from such attacks. That was why procurement of the arms became necessary for our self-protection,”
But the State insisted the excuse was too lame. The trial Magistrate, Emmanuel Danjuma, said he took cognizance of the fact that the convicted pastor was a first offender and a cleric, and thereafter handed him a two years imprisonment sentence on one of the charges. Another 18 months jail term was handed down on a second charge. Mercifully there were options of fine for the two sentences which were to run concurrently.
Unfortunately, dozens of Christians have been killed in Bauchi with nothing done by the government. No one can query the jail term handed down to Pastor Andrew for illegally acquiring guns (which he has not yet learnt how to use). One only wishes that those who do the actual killings will also be brought to justice by the authority!
Meanwhile, within 2 months of Pastor Andrew being handed his jail terms, at least FIVE pastors and SEVERAL family members have been murdered in the same Bauchi state. The latest incident occurred in the night of May 14 when 56-year-old Pastor Irimiya Maigida and his wife were shot and matcheted at Jaruma village in Toro Local Government area of Bauchi State. Wife Kezia survived while Irimiya Maigida gave up the ghost on the 110km trip to the Teaching Hospital in Bauchi, especially after prolonged delays at a police check point where the police insisted on having a police report explaining the wounds. Before the gruesome murder of Maigida (who left behind seven children and four grandchildren), another pastor of COCIN, Pastor Joshua Reke narrowly escaped death when his church was attacked by gunmen. Reke’s wife and three children were among the 16 people, mostly women and children, brutally murdered.
In describing the security intelligence efforts that nabbed Pastor John Andrew , the prosecuting counsel, Geraldine Longtsen, told the court that officers and men of the State Security Service (SSS), acted on a tip-off, How come the security forces have been unable to respond to the several tip-offs that could have stopped the routine butchering of Christian families in Bauchi? Hopefully, the new dispensation in the country will address this fundamental issue so that the country can make progress.
Meanwhile, Pastor Maigida, slain after diligently serving his Lord for over 30 years in the ministry, had since been buried at the Christian Cemetery at Yelwa Zurfi in the state capital .

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