A press statement by the chaplain, Catholic Social Forum, Kafanchan Diocese, Kaduna State —
Last Tuesday, I called the attention of the Kaduna State government and stakeholders from various departments of our society to intervene on the state of insecurity In the Christian-dominated southern part of Kaduna State that has turned the area into a theatre of mass killings, kidnappings and rape by Fulani terrorists who are up in arms to renounce and to invalidate our citizenship as well as loot our common wealth as a people. The call, as I said, was to avoid a repeat of the Zango Kataf crisis of 1992. This is clearly because we are tired of preaching peace to a people who have continued to suffer the untold consequences of the war that has been for some time now launched against the southern Kaduna people, who though have the arsenal and the sophistication to defend themselves have decided to remain peaceful.
Unfortunately, the call seemed to have fallen on deaf ears, as no sooner was the appeal made than a more devastating genocide-like attack on the people of Godogodo in Jema’a local government area occurred. The mayhem started around 5pm on 15th October and continued to Sunday, 16th October, 2016, leading to the massacre of over 120 lives of the innocent and highly hospitable Godogodo people and leaving behind only the ashes of their existence as evidence that the area was once a community of people,.
In the face of this war launched against the southern Kaduna people, the government, politicians, civil society and indeed human rights groups have chosen to remain mute, thereby indirectly placing a stamp of approval on the seemingly conventional mentality that cows are now worth more than the life of a southern Kaduna man who has been stereotyped an infidel.
For the sake of God and everything that is holy, what are the terrorists looking for and what agenda are they exactly pursuing? Could it be the recently discovered nickel in Dangoma which is only a few kilometres away from the Godogodo Amphitheatre? And why are these tragedies not visible in the far north but only in Christian-dominated areas of southern Kaduna, Benue, Enugu etc? Perhaps it is an attempt to increase the frontiers of Usman Danfodio’s Caliphate.
With the government and stakeholders sitting on the fence while human lives are being wasted, the church, which from time immemorial has been in the business of teaching and preaching about the sacredness of human life as well as helping the human person to actualize his potential in society, cannot afford to keep quiet. As Pope Paul VI in ‘Evangelium Nuntiandi’ observed: “Nothing that concerns the community of men and women — situations and problems regarding justice, freedom, development, relations between peoples, peace — is foreign to evangelization, and evangelization would be incomplete if it does not take into account the mutual demands continually made by the Gospel and by concrete personal life of man.”
Hence, we join the Chief Shepherd of our Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Danlami Bagobiri, to make the following pronouncements:
- In view of the current situation whereby life, as in the Hobbesian cul de sac, is nasty, brutish and short and with government whose primary responsibility is the protection of life and property treating the situation as nickel and dime, the only way out is self-defence. And self-defence combines spiritual variables such as fasting, praying, repentance, but, in addition, the readiness to employ the use of reasonable and proportionate force as a way of not only defending self or self-protection but also as an art of deterrence to the occurrence of greater and unimaginable evil that could take the character of genocide.
- If Christians are not educated to be fearless and courageous in the face of persecution, and, where necessary, employ legitimate and proportionate means of self-defence in their various communities, then sooner or later they will become endangered species.
- A faith-inspired resistance of evil will serve the cause of the Gospel or at least save and protect some lives and properties from death and destruction rather than the flight, acquiescence and self-surrendering as is often promoted by those who literally adore martyrdom.
- While Christians should be open to persecution and martyrdom when these become absolutely necessary to bear witness to Christ, we should not behave in a manner that creates the impression that the drivers and actors of unwarranted violence on the church are merely helping the church by their atrocities to live the Gospel.
- The church is not fighting Islam or Muslims, but rather against Islamists and extremists in Islam. Islamists who slash throats of non-Muslims abuse their dignity and fundamental right to existence. True religions spread themselves through peaceful and persuasive means and not through the use of terror and violence.
In conclusion, while the inaction of the government is nothing but a superlative act of irresponsibility, it is also difficult to understand why these terrorists want another grazing reserve from us when they hardly allow us to even buy where we could build our places of worship in their domains. More enigmatic is how southern Kaduna – the citadel of the famous Nock civilization that is in the entire universe only next to Egypt, with illustrious sons like Bishop Matthew Kukah, Professor Andrew Nock, Dr. Chris Abashiya, Dr. Gwamna Awan, the late acting Emir of Zaria in 1946, Dogo Saghnom, Father Peter Tanko, Professor Joseph Mamman, Dr. (Mrs) Victoria Leonard Gambo, Generals Zamani Lekwot, Joshua Madaki, Ishaya Bakut, AVM Shekeri, among several others — become a centre of exhibition for people whose stock-in-trade is barbarism? How can this part of the globe which produced the foot-soldiers who fought to keep Nigeria one become so endangered? What are our army generals who had distinguished themselves in the army doing to protect the land of their birth?
Finally, the time has come for us to stop sleeping and wake up because our salvation is nearer than we first began to believe. The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to darkness and equip ourselves for the light (Rom. 13:11-12).
May Christ the Prince of Peace grant us peace in our land. Amen.
Rev. Fr. Alexander Thomas Yayock
Chaplain Catholic Social Forum,
Kafanchan Diocese, Kaduna State