We paste below the Report from the Punch newspaper, with the above headline.
We are excited at how the Holy Spirit is moving to rid our nation of the Fulani herdsmen heinous rampages all over the land. This long-awaited Statement indicates the timing is now; and we at Church Arise! earnestly look forward to this snowballing to ushering in the new righteous nation Nigeria the LORD has promised the Christian fathers who prayed, toiled and laboured in this land decades ago.
Strangely, many usual vocal advocates for Christian activism seem not to be particularly excited about these developments. Eerie resemblance to military officers not wanting the Boko Haram conflict to end. Not helpful at all!
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president, Dr. Samson Ayokunle; President Muhammadu Buhari
…demand Miyetti Allah’s ban at security summit
•FG budgets N12bn for controversial scheme
MUDIAGA AFFE, ADELANI ADEPEGBA, OKECHUKWU NNODIM and TUNDE AJAJA
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr
Supo Ayokunle, as well as top members of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria
and other Christian bodies, including the General Overseer of the
Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, on Saturday asked
President Muhammadu Buhari to “completely scrap” the suspended Rural Grazing
Area scheme, popularly known as Ruga.
This was disclosed at the Church leaders
stakeholders’ summit, themed, ‘RUGA: The church’s response in the 21st
century,’ which held at the ShepherdHill Baptist Church, in Lagos on Saturday.
Other church leaders present at the summit included
the President of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Most Rev Benebo
Fubara-Manuel; President of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches, Dr
Napo Emuchey; Vice-President of CAN, Rev Caleb Ahima, and the acting General
Secretary, CAN, Mr Joseph Daramola.
However, the President, Pentecostal Fellowship of
Nigeria, Rev Felix Omobude; the Presiding Bishop, Living Faith Church
Worldwide, Dr David Oyedepo; and the President, Catholic Secretariat of
Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, were billed to attend the summit,
according to the programme of the event, but they were absent.
But the spokesperson for CAN, Pastor Bayo Oladeji,
said all the blocs of the Christian body were represented at the meeting.
Reacting to observations that Omobude was not in
attendance, Oladeji said the cleric was out of the country.
He added, “Though he could not make it to the
meeting because he is out of the country, he sent a representative. All the
blocs making up CAN were fully represented at the meeting and they all endorsed
the decisions and resolutions.”
Speaking at the summit, which centred on insecurity
in the country, the CAN president said the association’s involvement in the
debate was needed as CAN, which is the umbrella body for all Christians in the
country, could not fold its arms when the church was “hurting very badly at the
hands of Fulani herdsmen.”
A one-minute silence was observed at the event in
honour of Rev Fr David Tank, who was ambushed and brutally killed by bandits at
Kufai Amadu in Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State on August 29.
The slain cleric, who was set ablaze in his
vehicle, was said to be on his way to Takum for a peace meeting with his fellow
clergymen on how to resolve the lingering Tiv/Jukun crisis.
Many Nigerians have been killed as a result of
clashes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the past months and years.
In its report for 2018, Human Rights Watch, an
international non-governmental organisation, said communal conflict between
nomadic herdsmen and farmers in the Middle Belt intensified in 2018 and that at
least 1,600 persons were killed while about 300,000 persons were displaced.
The Federal Government, in finding a solution to
the clashes, designed the Ruga scheme to settle the Fulani and their cattle on
acquired land across states of the federation.
The scheme however attracted severe criticism,
forcing the Federal Government to “suspend” the scheme on July 3, 2019, even
though some states in the North, like Zamfara and Kano, decided to continue
with its implementation.
Presidential aide on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, had
tweeted, “The Federal Government after consultations with stakeholders has
suspended the RUGA Settlement Project, for now, Kebbi State Governor disclosed
that after a meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.”
But speaking at the stakeholders’ summit on
Saturday, Ayokunle while commending the President for suspending the Ruga
scheme, said, “We believe Ruga was just an unnecessary impediment in the wheel
of the nation’s progress. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari that he must
summon courage to go further by scrapping it completely.”
CAN asks Buhari to scrap Ruga, ban Miyetti Allah
In his earlier special address on the theme,
Ayokunle said the association took painstaking approach to set up a committee
to dig deep into the issue of Ruga before coming up with recommendations.
He added, “Anything that smacks of mutual suspicion
should be avoided in the interest of national unity. The Federal Government
should immediately disarm and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen terrorists that
have been recorded as one of the deadliest terrorists groups in the world.
“The group of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders
Association which openly supported the activities of the murderous Fulani
herdsmen be identified and banned immediately.
“President Buhari should suspend his membership and
patronage of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association until he leaves office
to reduce tension.”
Ayokunle, who also spoke with journalists shortly
after the meeting, stated that insecurity in the country had become an
He said, “Enough is enough about insecurity in the
country. It is totally embarrassing and people are having sleepless nights over
it. There is no free movement anymore. Even military officers can no longer
travel without heavy military escort; it is as bad as that. It is happening on
a daily basis, it is no longer propaganda, neither is it political opposition
“Our relatives are constantly being kidnapped and
we are being compelled to look for money to pay ransoms. There are no other
persons we can call upon than the government because that is why they are
there. They should be able to mop up the guns which these criminals are using
to threaten others and also arrest them.”
Ayokunle said it was clear that there were facts
about Ruga which the government had not cleared or refuted.
For instance, he pointed out, “Large expanse of
land will be delineated and taken from indigenous people in all the 774 local
government areas for use by Fulani herdsmen. The Federal Government will deep
its hand into the commonwealth of the nation to develop this programme for the
interest of just one out of the 250 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria contrary to
the provisions of the constitution.
“As perceived, these settlements will over time
metamorphose into politico-religious entities within host communities, thereby
reconfiguring the political, religious and cultural status of the environment.
This is capable of becoming a landmine for future crisis that will be to the
advantage of the settlers. The situations in Plateau and Southern Kaduna are
“The Ruga programme is a contradiction to the
modern-day livestock production system that centres on ranching and feedlots.”
The CAN president also said investigations had
shown that there was no nexus between Ruga and the National Livestock
Transformation Programme that was being pursued by the Federal Government.
“What we see
is a surreptitious insertion and speedy implementation of selfishly concocted
programme into a robust and holistically articulated national livestock
transformation programme approved by the National Economic Council,” he added.
Ayokunle said CAN would present its recommendations
and advice to the Federal Government for consideration.
He added, “We are going to send our position to the
Federal Government in black and white because we know that we are part and
parcel of this nation and it is our own duty also to help government as the few
of them in government cannot know everything. So, they should be prepared to
“We have consulted experts, so government should be
very brave in listening and meditating over recommendations coming from us
because we are closer to the market people more than them and we are the ones
that their policies have direct impact on. So, when they (government) think
they are helping us and we are feeling pains through this help, anyone in
government should be wise enough to think twice before continuing with such a
“We are convinced that Nigeria can operate a
rancour-free agro-allied business where all stakeholders can contribute to the
transformation of agriculture for the needed food sustenance of the nation and
job creation, rather than the present situation where agriculture has become an
avenue for cheap death for Nigerian citizens.”
Adeboye speaks on Ruga
Meanwhile, Adeboye, who urged the stakeholders to
listen with anointed ears to his rather proverbial address at the event. He
said he would relay an encounter he had with a close, mathematician friend of
his, whom he said advised Christians to reduce or stop the consumption of beef.
He said, “Please, do not quote me, quote my friend.
Listen with anointed ears. I have a friend who is a mathematician and he is
very funny. My mathematician friend told me a story that a cattle rearer kills
your brother and your brother’s blood spilled on the grass and the cow eats
from the grass, directly or indirectly, you are also participating in the
killing of that your brother.
“Someone cannot be killing your brother and you are
eating his cow meat. My friend said if you begin to allow them to rear cow at
your backyard, very soon, they will send you out of your house. My friend also
said that even the scientists have said that red meat is not good for our
health and we are buying cow meat, why can’t we eat fish which has been
confirmed to be the best for us. My friend said if we stop eating cow meat for
a while, the man who sells it will come and renegotiate the terms.”
When contacted on the call for the scrapping of
Ruga by CAN and other church leaders, the Senior Special Assistant to the
President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, re-directed one of our
correspondents to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“We now have a Minister of Information. Please, can
you speak to him?” he said.
Meanwhile, efforts to get the response of the
minister were not successful as he did not answer his calls neither did he
reply the text message sent to his phone as of press time.
Meanwhile, a top source at the Federal Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development has told one of our correspondents in Abuja
on Friday that the Ruga settlement initiative was now being managed by the
presidency and is no longer under the full control of the ministry.
FG budgets N12bn for controversial scheme – Report
In another development, SUNDAY PUNCH
investigations revealed that the Federal Government planned to spend N12.11bn
for the establishment of eight Ruga settlements in each of the eleven frontline
states in the federation, including Adamawa, Benue, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina,
Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara.
A document by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture
and Rural Development, ‘Intervention for resolving farmers-herders clashes in
Nigeria through establishment of Ruga model settlement, which was sighted by
one of our correspondents, indicated that the Federal Executive Council had
approved the funds in the 2018 before Ruga scheme suffered setback.
However, a source at the Federal Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development told one of our correspondents that the
proposed budget of N12.117bn had been released to enable the Federal Government
to end the clashes swiftly through the implementation of the project.
The immediate past Senior Special Assistant on
National Assembly Matters (Senate) to the President, Senator Ita Enang, had
disclosed that N2.258bn was provided for the implementation of the Ruga
programme in the 2019 budget.
Meanwhile, before the 2019 budget for the scheme
was unveiled, the source in the ministry alleged that the Ministry of Interior,
under the former minister, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), had proposed
that operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps would provide
security in each of the 88 Ruga settlements.
The source said, “The former minister proposed a
sum of N1bn to provide security at the Ruga settlements. The money was released
to the ministry before the controversies around the project started.”
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