Religious leaders from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have met with Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to discuss ways of finding lasting peace to the troubled southern region of the state.
The clergymen were led to the meeting which held on Monday at the Government House by CAN National President, Reverend Samson Ayokunle.
Reverend Ayokunle began his speech by admitting that the crises in Southern Kaduna predated the present administration in the state.
He, however, asked the security agencies to unmask those behind the senseless killings in Southern Kaduna, irrespective of their tribe or religious background and bring them to justice.
He also called on both the government and security agencies to commence the process of mopping up illegal firearms in the troubled communities.
Reverend Ayokunle cautioned all parties involved in the conflict to refrain from making accusations and counter-accusations, but to come together and find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis.
According to him, that the crisis has lingered for so long has made people tag it religious or ethnic and it has given them room to say whatever they are saying.
The CAN president made an eight-point request to help address the conflict which has claimed several lives in the region.
This included the need for all parties in the conflict to stop making provocative statements or carrying out attacks and reprisals, as well as mop-up of illegal firearms from criminals by security agencies.
Reverend Ayokunle also proposed the prosecution of those behind the crisis, rebuilding of destroyed Southern Kaduna and other crisis-affected areas, and the deployment of more security forces to the troubled communities, among others.
Willingness To Live In Harmony
In his response, Governor El-Rufai thanked the CAN national leadership for the visit and assured them that the state government would work with them to broaden the constituency for peace.
He affirmed that the government has been focused on resolving security challenges in the state, stating that his first official action as a governor was to chair an emergency security meeting on May 30, 2015 to address the killings in Sanga Local Government Area (LGA) a day earlier.
The governor insisted that his administration has acted to expand the security footprint in Southern Kaduna, answering the decades-old demand for a permanent army base there.
According to him, the government worked hard to avert the current spiral of violence by engaging traditional rulers and community leaders.
Governor El-Rufai explained that when the clashes began, they worked to get more soldiers and policemen to the affected areas, to calm nerves and prevent a cycle of attacks and reprisals.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives in a totally unnecessary frenzy of communal attacks, reprisals, and revenge. While we mourn the dead, our immediate focus remains to restore calm and foster the return of peace.
“We have been consistent in saying that beyond boots on the ground, military bases and police stations, the ultimate guarantee of peace is the willingness of communities to live in harmony and their resolve to settle differences through lawful means,” the governor said.
The meeting also had in attendance the state deputy governor, Hadiza Balarabe; Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Yusuf Zailani; former Deputy Governor Bala Bantex, Senator Uba Sani (Kaduna Central), and heads of security agencies in the state, among others.