BEING TEXT OF AN ADDRESS OF CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CAN), DELIVERED ON WEDNESDAY 10TH, JANUARY 2018, BY THE STATE CHAIRMAN MOST REV. DR. STEPHEN DAMI MAMZA ON THE SPATE OF VIOLENCE AND TERROR KILLINGS UNLEASHED UPON CHRISTIAN/FARMING COMMUNITIES IN ADAMAWA STATE BY HERDSMEN.
Gentlemen of the Press, may I seize this opportunity to welcome you and to thank you for responding once again to this invitation at short notice.
Before we get started, may we please observe one minute silence, even as we pray in our hearts in honour of those who were massacred in the mindless killings carried out by herdsmen here in Adamawa State and other parts of the country in the recent past……..May their souls rest…………..
Gentlemen, as the Fourth Estate of the Realm, you may have followed and probably reported some of the dastardly acts of terrorism unleashed upon Christians/farming communities in Adamawa State and indeed other parts of the country by herdsmen.
Recall this is the third time in a row that we are adressing a Press Conference within a very short period of time on violence associated with herdsmen. This time as you can see, we are here again to buttress the import of the message CAN is sending to the government on the need to end these killings immediately.
Sadly, this is happening at a time when public confidence in Federal and the State governments’ political will to guarantee security of citizens is eroding at an alarming rate. This is due to governments’ insensitivity to the issue, particularly as there is a distasteful allegation of side-taking in some instances. While CAN does not subscribe outrightly to the allegation, we hope it is not true.
Therefore, we wish to use this forum to call on the state government in particular to caution its officials on unguarded utterances during and after conflicts, as it has come to CAN’s notice that the Secretary to the Adamawa State government has propounded a new firearms narrative which seeks to justify the use of firearms by Fulani nomads in the country. This is dangerous and reprehensible as the law of the country does not allow any civilian the possession of firearms whether herdsmen or farmers.
The silence of the state Governor over this and similar utterances is suspicious and condemnable, also it is a display of non challant attitude from the Presidency to have kept silence over the said utterances even after it went viral and captured on the international media.
CAN wishes to also state in unequivocal terms that violent elements are easily embolden and fuelled to terror killings by such reckless and unguided utterances. Already, violence associated with herdsmen in our state has assumed a worrisome dimension even as it has gone viral. But we insist that it is unacceptable and that enough is enough!
We are saddened by the death of over fifty people killed in the repeated attacks carried out by herdsmen in Koh village of Girei local government area. This happenned after Lawaru, Dong, Kodomti, Shafaron, Plum, Kikan, Bilachi, Bang and Nzoruwe villages of Fufore, Numan and Demsa local government areas fell to the exploit of the same herdsmen and their expatriate mercenaries, killing close to 150 people, several others injured and property worth Millions of naira destroyed before the start of last Christmas festivities. It is on record that less than one week ago, no fewer than twenty innocent Christian farmers were killed in separate attacks in and around Tambo district of Girei local government area. Luru village in particular, saw its worse days when herdsmen wielding sophisticated firearms stormed the area killing fifteen people and injuring several others.
Within the period under review, not less than 10 Churches were burnt down and in some instances, even worshippers were killed and several others injured. On the basis of these, we stand to believe that the ongoing carnages is an attempt to discourage Christianity and to silence Christians from free religious practice. We make bold to reject this attempt and ask the Government to stop the unfortunate development. Extremism seem to have taken persecution to a new dimension with the armed herdsmen burning down Churches especially the recent attack two days ago in Sagal Community in Maiha Local Government Area where four Churches were burnt to ashes and properties destroyed.
What is more worrisome is the fact that in all instances of the attacks carried out so far, there have been sufficient alarms raised far long before the actual carnages and no decisive action was taken by concerned authorities to prevent it.
With these incessant and spreading attacks we feel the land is under siege and therefore calls for serious concern from all well-meaning individuals and organizations to support any course that will restore lasting peace in the land as against the sponsoring and equipping of the said fulani herdsmen by their Sponsors.
As Christians, our creed teaches us all the rudiments of peace building and harmony just as by the same tradition we are disposed to promoting the peace in a culturally diverse society. Therefore, to design the roadmap for an enduring peace, we make the following proposition:
We call upon the Government to work around the current committee set-up on this matter that their work is objectively done and timeously also; in addition to that we call on the government to also ensure that the previous reports on farmers/herdsmen conflicts are implemented.
That Nigeria’s land borders be protected at all cost to keep none Nigerian herdsmen from flowing into the country at will.
We are constrained to taking this stance to remind government of its basic duty of safeguarding lives of citizens and their property because there appears to be no hope in view, at least that the terror killings will abate anytime soon. President Muhammadu Buhari who is the Nation’s Chief security officer and Governor Muhammadu Umaru Jibrilla of the state should not keep silence over these killings irrespective of their affiliation with the perpetrators of these acts. Sadly, while this act of terrorism is going on unabated, our Political Office Holders both at Federal and State levels are engulfed with their 2019 political ambitions without a care about the citizens.
Finally, we call on our Christian Brethren to be more vigilant, law abiding and prayerful as we look unto the Lord to bring lasting solution to this troubles, Thank you and remain blessed.
+Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Dami Mamza
Chairman, Adamawa State CAN
Rev. Anthony Elishama
Secretary Adamawa State CAN