By Sam Eyoboka

PRESIDING bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, TREM, Dr. Mike Okonkwo and the president of God’s Kingdom Society, GKS, Brother Emmanuel Aighalua are the latest Christian clerics to denounce the continued killing of innocent civilians in Plateau State, saying it is time for government to act and restore peace to the state.

Okonkwo in a statement signed by him said: “Daily as I hear the news of the ongoing events in our country, my heart bleeds because we seem to have a clientele of docile leaders. For too long we have set up panels of enquiry without result on both communal and religious crisis, we have swept under the carpet the thing that is causing hatred and division amongst us.

“We have been a people that have lived together in peace but suddenly a minority is using religion to tear us apart. The unity our forefathers fought for is now being threatened by the greed of a few individuals. The genocide in Jos has gone on for too long, the time to say NO to genocide is now,” he said adding that the genocide going on in Jos is unacceptable to Nigerians.

The bishop wondered why the military has been playing to the gallery, stating that they cannot feign ignorance when the innocent is being slaughtered right under their noses.

“When the Plateau State governor, David Jang, a seasoned military man who was a military administrator before being a governor, raised issues about the military, what I expected the Chief of Defence Staff to do was to raise a panel of inquiry immediately with a determination to punish any erring military personnel but what we get are excuses after excuses. The question is: why will the military be on ground and genocide will continue if they are not deliberately looking the other way?” he asked.

According to Okonkwo, it is also an indictment on our lawmakers to sit down to discuss other issues when something of urgent national importance is on the line, ststing that it was high time the North-South dichotomy is addressed. “I expect all elected officers to refuse to discuss anything outside the genocide at this time. We should be careful, because what goes around comes around.

Today, it is Jos, who knows whose turn it will be tomorrow if we do not stand up against it,” he warned, pointing out “whether you are a northerner or southerner, a Christian or a Muslim should not be the issue at this time; we all must be seen to be going somewhere together. We should let the peace that once reigned in Nigeria return and bury all political, religious and tribal differences.”

Lamenting the current political impasse, the cleric said he watched with dismay how politicians are all playing to the gallery on the issue of Acting President. “Why will we not simply follow the constitution? Why are we putting undue stress on the ailing President?

“Why are we pretending that he can when we all know that he cannot? Why will a whole president be brought into the country in that shameful manner as if he is a wanted man? Nigeria, as a nation is bigger than one man or one cabal or one party. Even Yar’Adua will, if he had an opportunity to express himself, ask to be left alone, so why is PDP forcing him on.

According to him, the time to act is now, let us follow the constitution and leave a legacy to follow for the generations yet unborn, while we are praying for the President for the Lord to restore his health. He charged the Acting President, to use this opportunity to deliver good governance.

He should take steps to ensure that the 7-point agenda of President Yar’Adua is not derailed with particular emphasis on security, road network and electricity.

“If he can handle these three effectively, he would have left his footprints on the sands of time. He should not throw away this golden opportunity to make this regime one that Niger-ians will remember for good in a long time,” he said.

The GKS helmsman, Brother Aighalua said rather than resorting to vengeance, the various parties in the Jos crisis should seek lasting solutions to their problems through constitutional means while government should be firm, prompt and fair in addressing the crisis. He said in his response that since we are living in an imperfect world, conflicts must arise from time to time, especially as the dawn of democracy has given room for various pent-up issues to come to the surface, including a matter in which people are so tenacious of their rights as the issue of land.

“But we must device the means of controlling conflicts without injury for any of the disputing parties by bringing groups into communication with one another, forcing them to face up to their problems,” he said in a statement signed by the GKS publicity secretary, Brother Benedict Hart.
Aighalua declared that “the grace of God which Jesus Christ brought to mankind forbids violence and bloodshed in the pursuit of one’s causes” adding that “the days of inter-tribal wars and disorderly use of physical force are gone. There can be no lasting peace and unity among people plagued by the spirit of religious, ethnic or political intolerance, bigotry, fanaticism, factionalism, fighting and aggression.”

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