The problem with Nigeria’s security, according to Rev. John Joseph Hayab, State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna chapter, is the lack of a real joint effort to solve it.
He stressed that individuals in positions of leadership must listen to everyone who is willing to offer a solution, not only specialists, and that traditional leaders, religious leaders, association leaders, and even ordinary people, adolescents, women, and children, all have a stake in the issue.
On Tuesday, he spoke at a day-long peace and security symposium in Kaduna, with the topic “Nigeria’s insecurity: The Church’s response in the 21st Century”, organized by CAN in the state, Rev. Hayab said that it is against the background that the church in the state thought it wise to bring together pastors and church leaders together to deliberate and come out with practicable strategies within Christian teaching and biblical provisions meant to complement the government’s efforts in the great task of handling the challenge of insecurity.
According to Rev. Hayab, “I stand before you with every sense of thanks and encouragement for the incredible response to our call for this all-important summit. The reaction shows to the world our collective dissatisfaction about the insecurity challenges that we face and our common will to support all positive efforts firmly intended at bringing this ugly challenge to a permanent end.”
He noted that security challenges in Nigeria and Kaduna State, in particular, is not a new thing but a monster that people have been struggling very hard for decades to deal with, pointing out that every government has had its fair share of the experience.
He recalled that Kaduna state in 1987 witnessed students’ riot at the Kaduna State College of Education Kafanchan triggering religious intolerance, and then had the 1992 Zangon Kataf communal unrest, ignited by the relocation initiative of a market.
He added then came the 2000 Sharia crisis and the 2002 Miss World crisis and equally the 2011 post-election crisis, saying that the state witnessed series of bombings believed to be by the Boko Haram terrorist group.
The state chairman of CAN observed that security challenges in Kaduna State started taking a new form by the end of 2014 with banditry, cattle rustling, and guerilla attacks of towns and villages, especially in the southern part of the state which became worse by 2016.
To Rev. Hayab, the existing challenge is even more terrible with the advent of kidnapping, pointing out that the turn of events has affected the community, state and the nation terribly, saying that in all fairness, the current problem has adversely hit the body of Christ and humanity in general.
He explained that in 2019, CAN published records of kidnappings where it recorded a total of over five hundred (500) Christians who had been kidnapped, explaining that on record, CAN had about eighteen (18) pastors kidnapped with four (4) of them killed namely: Past. Jeremiah Omolara – Living Faith Church, Romi New Extension, Rev. Iliya Anto – Former Vice President of HEKAN Church, Rev. Fr. John Bako Shekwolo – St. Theresa Catholic Church, Ankwa, Kachia Local Government Area and Rev. Hosea Akuchi – Nasara Baptist Church, Guru.
He further explained that CAN gathered these records through a questionnaire developed and shared in one of her meetings with hundreds of pastors and relations of kidnapped victims with over 20 communities sacked from their communities as a result of their abductions.
He added that data gathered also revealed an approximated amount of money paid as ransom to have people freed within the period, on a survey, to be over three hundred million naira (N 300,000 000) as at 2019, saying that today, the amount has risen to over a billion naira with many victims’ dead and even more still in the hands of kidnappers.
He explained that when CAN presented the statistics, CAN was misinterpreted, stressing that a Kaduna state 2020 annual Security report released by government showed that their record did not capture the colossal damage that the spate of kidnapping has brought to bear on the population.
Rev. Hayab said government’s report as published stated that 937 people were killed by bandit and 1,972 kidnapped within the period, saying that the first quarter 2021 security report published by government reported by premium time, on the 30th of April 2021 indicates that 323 people were killed, and 949 people have been kidnapped,
CAN stated that it believed that the second quarter report that people are waiting for from the government may have a higher figure than what they already have.