30th April, 2018
CAN PROTEST: WE ARE ALL VICTIMS
The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Wednesday, 25th April, 2018, called on its members across the country to hold demonstrations after church service on Sunday over killings across the country, especially in the Middle Belt region. As a result of this call, Christians in Lagos, Akure, Osogbo and Ado-Ekiti held peaceful protests yesterday (Sunday 29th April, 2018).
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) acknowledges the rights of groups to express themselves in a democratic setting. We also commend the Christian protesters for conducting themselves peacefully. We affirm clearly, categorically and unequivocally that life is sacred and no Nigerian citizen, whether Christian or Muslim, deserves to be killed.
However, we reaffirm our earlier position that Christians have not been the only victims of the killings around the country. Muslims are losing hundreds of faithfuls on a monthly basis in the North East as Boko Haram unleashes terror on the predominantly Muslim populace. 36 Muslims were killed in Birane Village in Zurmi Local Council, Zamfara State on February 16, 2018. Six Muslims were killed in Jidari Polo area of Maiduguri on April 26, 2018.
Even yesterday, Sunday 29th April, 2018, another 15 Muslims were killed in Bawon-Daji village, in Anka District of Zamfara. Again, more than 12 Muslims were waylaid and killed in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, when the corpses of the two priests killed in the Benue church attack were brought to the city. These are verifiable attacks by those free of the ‘lazymania’ virus.
So the question arises: why kill innocent Muslim travellers when peaceful protests were already being planned? The pointable point is that we are all victims. Both Christians and Muslims have lost their members to criminals and blood-thirsty elements of our country. Meaningful impact could have been made if both Christians and Muslims held a joint protest against the failure of government to stem the tide of killings.
That would make it impossible for observers to read meanings into yesterday’s protest. It would stop questions like, “Why are they demonstrating now? Is it because Buhari is a Muslim? Why didn’t they protest when Jonathan was in power? Were there no killings in Jonathan’s time? Do they want to bring Buhari’s government down?”
Who is doing the killings? Who are the culprits? Boko Haram insurgents, inflitrators from Libya, ISIS, local militiamen and certain disgruntled and unpatriotic elements who are keen on causing instability and discrediting this administration are top on our list of suspects.
Before we are accused of academic escapism in a season of ‘lazymania’, a little research will reveal that no matter how much this administration tries, it cannot overcome all the security challenges facing the country at the moment, particularly if it continues to rely on the resources presently at its disposal. Any politician promising something else is deceiving Nigerians.
The truth of the matter is that Nigeria as at today lacks the wherewithal to fight insecurity of this dimension. The United Nations recommends at least one policeman to every 499 persons. Yet with a population of 193 million people, Nigeria has just 317,000 policemen, about 100,000 soldiers and approximately 33,000 men of the Department of Secret Services (DSS). This is far below expectation.
It explains why the army had to deploy thousands of its men from the troubled North East to the South East when the Biafra debacle erupted about a year ago. Then came crisis in Plateau State, followed by the herdsmen saga in Taraba and the armed militia imbroglio in Benue. Zamfara was on fire. Kaduna was burning and the same military had to draft its men there. It puts the few soldiers we have under pressure and it also explains why Boko Haram insurgents have not been totally wiped out. All these crises have caused expensive distractions.
The way forward is for all patriotic citizens to join hands with the government in its quest for a peaceful society. Let us allow peace to reign in other parts of the country so that the military can concentrate on Boko Haram. This is the time for religious leaders to eschew acrobatic religiousity. It is the time for the citizenry to abandon gymnastic ethnicity. We must announce a ceasefire across Nigeria and embrace one another.
Still on the panacea to insecurity in our dear country, MURIC supports peaceful protests to pressurize government to employ more security operatives. Si vis pacem para bellum (i.e. if you want peace, prepare for war), at least an additional 200,000 policemen, 50,000 soldiers and 15,000 men of the secret police must be recruited in the next few months if the Federal Government is serious about overcoming the present security challenges. In addition, sophisticated weapons and modern communication gadgets must be procured for our security agents so that they can be better prepared to face the battle ahead.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)