Critical Times News : We want justice for Plateau Killings, under-age Christian girls forcefully abducted and converted to Islam, leah Sharibu - CAN tells Buhari

Published by / 6 Jul 2018 / No comments / ,

We want justice for Plateau Killings, under-age Christian girls forcefully abducted and converted to Islam, leah Sharibu - CAN tells Buhari

Christians in the 19 Northern states have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to live above board by making the perpetrators of the recent killing in Plateau State to face justice and rebuilding the burnt 52 villages.

They made the demand on Thursday during a visit to President Buhari in the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

In the company of the delegation were the Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State and the leadership of the northern wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

The Christian leaders insisted on the prosecution of the killers of over 200 villagers by armed herdsmen. The herdsmen killed the villagers to avenge the theft on their cattle by Berom natives in the state.

Lalong, who spoke to State House correspondents, declared that the act of occupying sacked villages by the invading herders must be stopped so that traumatised residents can return to their abodes.

The governor said that he would sign an amended criminal law next week to curtail the activities of bandits who cause such mayhem as well as ease their prosecution with stiffer penalties.

In the address presented to Buhari by Chairman of CAN, Northern States, Rev. Yakubu Pam, the clerics demanded a rejig of the nation’s security architecture, and that all communities ravaged by the herdsmen violence in the North should be rebuilt and adequate security be put in place to enable displaced persons to return to their homes and means of livelihood.

They also asked the Federal Government to encourage herders to acquire land for cattle ranching across the country as a means of private business investment instead of openly grazing their cattle.

“While the Federal Government under the current administration is celebrating an agricultural revolution, most farmers, especially in the North can no longer go to their farms due to the sustained attacks by armed herdsmen. We, therefore, urge the government to reconcile its priority by providing the necessary safety for the farmers to go on with their farming activities,” Rev. Pam said.

The CAN chairman lamented that the “continuous abduction of under-aged Christian girls who are forcefully converted to Islamic religion and given out for marriage without the consent of their parents breeds religious disharmony.” He therefore demanded the quick intervention of the government to ensure that the numerous girls held under such circumstances are released to their parents.

“In the spirit of the above observation, we wish to demand that intensive and speedy actions should be taken for the release of girls in captivity, especially Leah Sharibu,” Pam said. Miss Sharibu was abducted by Boko Haram and was not released because she refused to convert to Islam.

The group further asked that “all perpetrators, including the so-called foreigners linked with these heinous crimes against humanity in parts of northern states should be arrested and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.”

In his response, President Buhari condemned the killings, which he noted had often been noticed since 1999, but declared that it was wrong to insinuate that he or his administration would condone such acts.

“We must all rise as one to condemn these vile and wicked acts to ensure that all the culprits are brought to justice.

“We owe it to the memory of those who lost their lives in the violence in Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara and elsewhere since 1999 to bring the conflicts to a decisive end. I assure you that we will do this”, he stated, noting that the military and police had arrested hundreds of suspects across the various flash-points in the region and several prosecutions had started.

“In a number of cases, we have seen convictions. Nigerians are right when they say they want to see more convictions and I would like to appeal to the judiciary to help us fast-track these cases.

“When some, for clearly political purposes, attempt to suggest that this government is doing nothing about the killings, and that I, being Fulani, must be encouraging these satanic acts, it seems to me that there is no limit to the evil in the minds of men.

“Otherwise, how can anyone in his right mind suggest that I, as an elected President even with substantial votes in the affected areas, will for any reason do harm by an act of omission to those same people?” Buhari said.

He recalled that similar occurrences resulted to emergency rule and removal of the governor in Plateau State in 2001, but that relative peace had returned in the past three years owing to efforts of the current governor and ongoing military operations.

He added that “the government can achieve lasting peace only with the sincere and active cooperation of communities, religious leaders, youths and other stakeholders. These include the media in whose hands, lies the power to frame, shape the perspectives and narratives which influence the thinking of millions of people within and outside Nigeria.

“Finally, let us collectively shame those who are stoking the fires of ethnic and religious conflicts for their short-term political gains,” he said.

The Women Leader of Northern CAN, Mrs. Leah Olusiyi Solomon, who was part of the main delegation, knelt down before Buhari and cried profusely over the massacre of Christians, especially women and children, by the rampaging herdsmen in the North.

She raised her hands and tearfully pleaded with the President to approve a meeting between him and a delegation of Northern Christian women anytime soon.

The President subsequently directed Mrs. Solomon to immediately liaise with his Chief Protocol Officer, who was standing nearby, to arrange the meeting.

Speaking with journalists afterwards, she explained that “I was in deep pains when I saw the killings of the innocent ones and also the mothers. I was in pains and I was asking if His Excellency will grant us an audience as Christian women in the Northern states so that we can come and cry and pray also that the innocent children will be safe in the nation.”

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