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CAN alleges genocide against Christian faith

By The Citizen

THEĀ  Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, hasĀ  described the continuous bombings in Northern Nigeria, as genocide against Christians, insisting that North is not at war as it is being portrayed in some quarters.

CAN General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake who decried the ban of teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK), also noted that the clash between tribal groups in Nasarawa and Plateau states had assumed a religious dimension.

Addessing a press conference in Abuja, Rev. Asake maintained that killings continued unabated in some parts of the North, because 'there is no prosecution of those who kill', insisting that government must prosecute Boko Haram suspects in its custody, if they are truly sincere.

His words: 'The assertion in some quarters that, 'the North is at war', does not represent the reality on ground. From our records, day-in-day-out, Christians in the North are the ones under an unprecedented siege by various groups of well-armed, roundly trained and heavily funded groups bent on expressing their hate against Christians and the Christian faith through mind-less mass murder of men, women and children.

'There is no war in the North. What we have is genocide against people of the Christian faith. The state of the nation calls for concern. And so is the state of Christendom at this trying time on the history of our nation. The situation demands urgent action, if we are not to descend into a state where every man is to himself.

'About two weeks ago, what began as an inter-tribal skirmish at Asakio in Nasarawa State between the people of Eggon and Alago and later between Migili and Eggon at Agyaragu assumed a religious dimension, when Hausa-Fulani militia invaded the tribal groups at Kokona in Nasarawa Eggon Local council and Agidi Develop-ment Area. During the first attack on January 9, many churches and houses were burnt and some pastors killed.

'The Christian communities in Attakar and Dajak villages of Riyon Local Government Area of Plateau State were attacked by suspected relig-ious fundamentalists with AK47 rifles. At the end of the swift operation, no less than 20 Christians were killed and several others injured, while churches were burnt.

'As if that was not enough, the invaders also razed six churches in their determina-tion to frustrate the Christians within the community. The churches include St. Job Catholic Church, St. Simon Anglican Church, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Haske Anglican Church, COCINChurch at Uchan Attakar and COCINChurch at Kirim Attakar. Pastors' homes were also torched'.

According to Asake the situation was not different in ZamfaraState, as 'the Red-eemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, parish located at Ungwan Zabarma, Tudum Wada, Gusau, the state capital was set on fire by unknown persons'.

However, he said instead of intervening in their favour, authorities in the affected villages gave six months ultimatum to pastors of the affected church to quit the place or face the consequence.

'He (the ward head, Adamu Mohamed Dahiru) ordered that they should not rebuild the church but to quit the ward within six months and find somewhere else to worship. This is contrary to the spirit of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees every Nigerian the rights to association and worship', he said.

The CAN scribe disclosed that the situation in Kano, Yobe, Borno, Sokoto, Zamfara, Jigawa and Katsina states was the worst of it all, saying, aside from banning the teaching of CRK in schools, 'in the past 13 years, some of the governments have refused to grant new building permits to churches or give approval for the renovation or expansion of churches.

'While the prea-ching by Christians is restricted to church premises in the core northern states, Muslim cler-ics are free to preach hateful and inciting sermons with no hindrance'.

The National Christian Body decried a situation where Christian indigenes of the North were treated as third class citizens in their father's land, noting that with the series of callous attacks on Christians, it could no longer encourage them not to fold their hands and watch.

'Any Muslim that converts to Christianity in those states is declared an apostate and faces severe persecution in flagrant violation of his free choice of religion. Indigenes of these states, who are born as Christians are treated as inferior and suffer untold injustice, oppression, and cannot rise beyond certain levels in the state civil service, no matter how educated they are.

'It is also true that no Christian can fight for Christ, or shed blood to preserve or further Christianity. Never-theless, every Christian has a right to life, self-dignity and freedom to pursue his daily and legal obligations to God and society. If such right can be taken away with the state looking on helplessly, we say, take the constitutional pri-vilege of self-defence', Asake maintained.

According to CAN, 'one major source of concern to us in CAN is the Nigerian government's failure to prosecute all the arrested persons allegedly backing Boko Haram. The picture that emerges from this is that government is insin-cere with its much touted war against the sect members, one good reason why the government is yet to flush out the group.

'Government must acquire a reputation for being taken seriously on this matter by the populace. It must also acquire the spine to prosecute any member of the sect already in the government's net. To do otherwise is to make most Nigerians to believe that some classes of Nigerians are untouchable,' he stated.