Southern Kaduna people under the aegis of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), has reacted to the eviction threat, issued to Bishop Mathew Kukah of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese by some Islamic groups, saying that, they agree with the Bishop’s stand on insecurity in the country.
The Southern Kaduna people while addressing a press conference principally in defence of Bishop Kukah, who is their son, said no fewer than 143 communities across the local government areas that make up Southern Kaduna, have been displaced, while over 160,000 persons live under dehumanizing condition and over N900 million paid as ransom to bandits in 2020 alone.
Addressing the press conference, the SOKAPU President, Hon. Jonathan Asake insisted that, the Christmas homily by Bishop Kukah, was a timely wake-up call on national leadership to confront the monsters of destruction that are committed to the annihilation of communities in southern Kaduna and other parts of the North.
SOKAPU President lamented that, the same anger and threats that greeted the Bishop Kukah’s criticism was absent when the Sultan of Sokoto, prominent emirs and the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) earlier condemned President Buhari over his ‘dismal performance’ in tackling insecurity in the country, especially with NEF calling on him to resign.
According to SOKAPU, “Nigeria as a nation is seriously undergoing severe security challenges whereas terrorists who pose as Boko Haram, bandits or kidnappers continue to unleash premeditated and unprovoked attacks on our people and turning our communities into rubbles of devastation and desolation.
“The incessant kidnappings, gruesome massacre and displacement of indigenous people from their homes have continued unabated. Presently, in most of our communities across the 12 local governments of Southern Kaduna, there are reported cases of daily abductions on the road, farms, homes, markets and worship centres where victims have gone through unimaginable torture and relations forced to pay outrageous sums of money as ransom.
“As I address you today, no fewer than 143 communities across our local government areas in Southern Kaduna have been completely displaced, with over 160,000 persons, mostly women and children, now living under very harsh and dehumanizing conditions devoid of food, medication and other necessities of life. From reports of kidnappings available to us and the amount of money paid in ransom, our poor, vulnerable and defenceless people in Southern Kaduna have had to cough out over N900 million from January to December 2020 in ransom to these heartless criminals, with many killed when relatives of victims are unable to raise the ransom and at times even when ransom is paid. This undoubtedly has placed Kaduna state as the nation’s capital for kidnappings and abductions.
“While the government of the day in our state and at the federal level have continued to appear helpless in their capacity to tackle these challenges or many at times turn a blind eye to these horrifying atrocities and crimes against humanity, the chances of bringing back hope for our despairing communities is becoming slimmer by the day.
“It is against this backdrop that the Christmas homily by the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah, serves a timely wake-up call on national leadership to confront the monsters of destruction that are committed to the annihilation of our communities.
“This is not the first time patriotic citizens and statesmen have raised their voices of concern to draw the attention of our leaders to the need of confronting these security challenges that seek to destroy our nation which appears to have always fallen on deaf ears.
“We recall a similar concern raised by a respected General and statesman, philanthropist and former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd), where, having observed the incessant killings across communities in Nigeria, particularly in the Middle Belt Region, and also observing the non-neutrality of the Nigerian military, urged communities to rise up and defend themselves. This clarion call for self-defence by the General which is a constitutional provision and a right for every citizen was perceived negatively by a section of this country which has continued to behave as if they own Nigeria and that other citizens have no right to criticise the government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
“In another twist, a refined gentleman, technocrat, accomplished academic, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and a one-time presidential candidate, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, had in a media interview called the attention of Nigerians to the inability of government in tackling insecurity in the country. He further drew the attention of the public to the sad situation where a certain Northern governor was behind the banditry in the region. Despite comments by Dr. Mailafia on those behind the insecurity ravaging our nation, the secret police were more concerned in harassing the Harvard trained economist than looking into the substance of his revelations.”
Asake said, “It appears to us, therefore, that comments by Nigerians attract different reactions from the government, depending on the region, ethnicity and religion of the person making such comments.
“It’s sad to note that when persons of core Northern extraction criticize government; they are taken as kind words, but when the same statements are made by people of Southern or Middle Belt extraction; they are harassed and tormented and their comments branded as treasonable by government.
“This discriminatory posture of government clearly shows that the Buhari-led administration treats Nigerian citizens differently; some as first class and others considered as second class.
“When the respected Bishop Kukah criticised the government in his Christmas homily, all hell broke loose from Northern elements who have consistently exhibited intolerance since the assumption of Buhari as the President.
“Sadly so, his glaring nepotism, chauvinism and bigotry in his governance style seems to lend credence to this perception.
“All that Bishop Kukah is accused of saying against this government had been said by some other people in a more critical manner but never attracted a barrage of condemnation and threats.
“We note that the Sultan of Sokoto, prominent emirs and the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) had condemned President Buhari over his dismal performance in tackling insecurity in the country, with NEF calling on him to resign.
“The anger and threats that are being issued against the revered Bishop was never served on the Sultan, emirs and NEF which clearly shows the discriminatory posture of this government.
“SOKAPU stands with Bishop Kukah and others who before him had called to attention the subtle and continuing annihilation of our communities.
“Those who have threatened Bishop Kukah ought to be arrested and be made to face the full wrath of the law.
“For the Islamic group that issued out a threat and an ultimatum on the Bishop, we must warn here that nobody has a monopoly of violence and nothing should happen to Bishop Kukah.”
“Those who call on the government to rise up and do their jobs are not criminals; they are patriots who are genuinely interested in the unity and wellbeing of citizens,” SOKAPU President said.