- As CAN, SOKAPU leaders boycott peace summit
- What I told Trump over alleged killing of Christians in Nigeria – Buhari
Former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), retired Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, has challenged Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, to take proactive measures towards ensuring that the persistent crises in the southern part of the state are resolve during his tenure.
The former CDS, who acknowledged that the crises in Southern Kaduna predated the administration of El-Rufai, noted it is possible that God would want to use him to end the crisis.
He observed that the government needed to do more in its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property in the state.
General Agwai, who spoke at a Peace Summit organized by “Friends of Southern Kaduna” in collaboration with Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) held in Kafanchan on Tuesday, said Governor El-Rufai might be the one God has decided to use to end the crisis in the area.
Represented by Ishaya Dare Akau, General Agwai said the crisis in Southern Kaduna is an old one and enjoined governor El-Rufai to take a chance and write his name in history so that what many people have failed to do by the grace of God he could do it.
“I want to appeal, particularly to our governor that truly the violence in Kaduna did not start today and is older than many of us.
“But how does he know that he is not the one God has decided to come and end this violence.
“Why doesn’t he take a chance and write his name in history so that what many people have failed to do by the grace of God he could do it,” Agwai said.
The peace summit with its theme: “De-escalating violence in Southern Kaduna,” the Executive Secretary, NCPC, Rev. Yakubu Pam, while declaring the summit open said the commission deemed it fit to provide a platform for the warring parties to dialogue and take ownership of the peace process.
Pam said: “Anytime I hear of killings, banditry anywhere in the world it brings me vision of catastrophy, pains, trauma and agony that God’s creation are subjected to.
“Our mission here is to facilitate a peace process through dialogue and negotiations as well as enhancing participation and cooperation among all stakeholders.
“This is intended to bring out those critical salient differences that you believe are the root causes of this conflict and for you to proffer means of resolving them.
“By the positions you occupy in your various communities, we believe you have capacity to influence decisions among your subjects and others.”
Meanwhile, the Kaduna chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) Christian leaders from the Southern part of Kaduna and the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, (SOKAPU) who were earlier scheduled to attend the peace summit boycotted the event.
Chairman, Southern Kaduna Christian Leaders Association, Bishop Simon Peters Mutum, said that the key stakeholders who had bore the brunt of the genocide over the years, l got to know of the peace summit few hours to the commencement.
He said all the arrangements had been completed without the involvement of some of the key stakeholders of Southern Kaduna that have been suffering from the killings.
“The group will welcome an explanation as to why the organizers of the summit decided to sideline SOKAPU and the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the planning of the summit,” he said.
“We are, therefore, deeply concerned about who the ‘Friends of Southern Kaduna’ are and what may be their real motives!
“We are also troubled that a Peace Summit can be organized for a people without involving the key leaders of the people to be discussed with/ about!
“So, in as much as we would love to be part of a Peace Summit, we want to know who the organizers are and what they really want to achieve by this Summit going by the way they planned it!
“We would also want an explanation as to why the leadership of SOKAPU, CAN and SKCLA were sidelined in the planning of the Summit
“We would have wished that the Peace Summit be rescheduled until all our questions are properly answered and every key player (the youths, CDAs, traditional institution, regional groups of interest & religious groups) are contacted, organised and carried along! and that is our prayer,” he stated.
SOKAPU in a letter dated 6th September, 2020 and addressed to the Chairman, Local Organizing Committee of the Peace Summit, Pastor James Novel Wuye, said they wished to have had a consultation with the conveners before the summit.
The letter which was signed by Secretary of SOKAPU, Stephen Mallan, en titled, ‘Re: Invitation to participate in Peace Summit for the de-escalation of conflict in Southern Kaduna, stated that “the Central Executive Committee of SOKAPU met and exhaustively discussed on the Peace Summit, and hereby resolved as follows;
“SOKAPU appreciates this laudable initiative for a peace summit especially at this crucial period when peace has eluded most of our communities.
“That SOKAPU has accepted the invitation and is willing to participate in the Peace Summit.
“However, this invitation came when we were yet to conclude our consultations with key stakeholders in Southern Kaduna.
“Furthermore, SOKAPU had wished to have prior consultations with the conveners before the summit.
“In this regard, we are kindly requesting that the summit be rescheduled to a later date to enable us conclude all consultations. Otherwise, the summit may proceed and we shall be glad to be communicated with the outcome.”
On their part, the CAN noted that they won’t take part in the summit because it lacks transparency.
A letter by the CAN’s Secretary in the state, Rev. Sunday Ibrahim, and addressed to the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Pastor James Wuye, insisted that the Christian body won’t guarantee the genuinness of the peace summit.
According to the letter, CAN will not support conflict entrepreneurs to use the horrible situation in Kaduna State to their advantage.
The letter read, “At about 5:00 pm on the 1st of September 2020, we received your letter dated 28th August 2020 with the reference number PSC VOL 1/28/20 under the above referred title.
“The letter invites us to participate in a peace summit “to dialogue with relevant stakeholders in Southern Kaduna…”organized by “Friends of Southern Kaduna” in collaboration with the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC).
“Attached to the letter is the Agenda of the Summit in which our Chairman, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, is proposed to say the opening prayer at the said summit.
“While we thank you for the invitation, we find the organisation of the proposed summit as inappropriate even as CAN Kaduna State has been involved and is still involved in working for long-lasting peace in southern Kaduna and Kaduna State as a whole in partnership with genuine, purpose-driven, and sincere stakeholders in peace building and are open to such partnership always.
“However CAN will not support conflict entrepreneurs to use the horrible situation in Kaduna State to their advantage. The Southern Kaduna security challenges need a holistic and genuine approach and not a whitewash, playing to the gallery approach.
“Accordingly, since CAN was not involved in the organisation of the summit but only an invitee, CAN cannot guarantee the genuineness of those planning it.
“Without a doubt, CAN and UNI remain the most recognized authorities representing Christians and Muslims, respectively, hence, are legitimate authorities to partner with for a peace process as the one we year for and other matters relating to religion in Nigeria as a whole.
“CAN having established that the organisers of the proposed summit did not contact CAN ahead of the planned summit, enlisting CAN Chairman, Kaduna State, in the agenda is aimed at merely using CAN adding credibility to the ambiguous peace process.
“To this end, CAN Kaduna State disassociates itself from this summit in its entirety given the lack of transparency in the planning of the summit. If the organisers recognize the need for CAN’s participation, the proper steps should have been taken.”
In another development, President Muhammadu Buhari has recounted his interactions with President Donald Trump of the United States of America in 2018 over alleged persecution and killings of Christians in Nigeria.
Speaking in Abuja at the First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat of his second term, Buhari said he is the only African amongst the least developed countries that the President of the United States invited in the White House.
He said he was asked to explain why he is killing Christians in Nigeria.
He asked his cabinet members how they would feel if they were the ones put on the spot and confronted with such a grave allegation, disclosing that he further told Trump that the conflicts were caused by successive leaders of the country who tampered with established grazing routes.
According to him, only Nigerian leaders in the First Republic kept grazing routes while subsequent ones encroached on them, adding that the crisis was older than him and much more than Trump whom he said he was still older than.
“I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited, and when I was in his office, only myself and himself. Only God is my witness. He looked at me in the face. He said ‘why are you killing Christians?’
“I wonder if you were the person how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion. So, I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and stagnant farmers I know is older than me, not to talk of him (Trump). I think I am a couple of years older than him.
“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any route to your water point, they will follow it, it doesn’t matter whose farm it was.
“The first republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the minister of agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle routes where they used meagre resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.
“So, any cattle rearer that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm is arrested, taken before the court, the farmer is called to submit his bill and if he can’t pay, the cattle are sold, but subsequent leaders, VVIPs (very very important persons) they encroached on the cattle routes, they took over the cattle rearing areas.
“So, I tried and explained to him this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing which the respective leadership was failing the nation,” he said.