The tension generated by the rampage of armed herdsmen throughout the country, especially Southern Kaduna, heightened recently when the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose, prevented a Christian cleric, Apostle Johnson Suleiman, from being arrested by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, after a crusade.
The Service later invited Apostle Suleiman to its head offices in Abuja over allegations that he incited Christians to kill Muslims in retaliation for massacres all over the Middle Belt (especially Southern Kaduna) and Southern states.
Before he honoured the invitation, the pastor addressed the media and said he neither called on Christians to kill Muslims nor did he ask for the killing of innocent herdsmen. Rather, he reiterated that anyone who is under attack should defend himself. “Whether you are a Christian or Moslem, someone can’t just come to your house and kill your children and you will keep quiet”.
The cleric later met with the DSS on Monday, 30th January 2017, and after a couple of hours he was allowed to go with a warning to guard his utterances. This is a wise piece of advice for all law-abiding citizens and religious leaders throughout the country.
Retaliation and reprisal attacks, as logical as they may seem, cannot solve any existing problem. They will only escalate them, and whatever goes round comes round. That will never augur well for the peaceful coexistence of all groups and interests in our country, renowned all over the world for our rich diversity.
However, we understand the sentiments that led Apostle Suleiman to call for self-defence. The Federal and many state governments have acted with utter irresponsibility by treating the safety of lives and property of Nigerians with contempt in the face of attacks by gunmen masquerading as herdsmen.
They abandoned their constitutional responsibilities and sacred oaths to defend and protect the people from internal threats and external invaders. The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s decision to pay Fulani herdsmen to stop attacking communities in Southern Kaduna (thus escalating the killings), and President Muhammadu Buhari’s prolonged silence and inaction while our citizens were being daily massacred and displaced from their ancestral communities by alleged “foreign” armed herdsmen pushed many Nigerians to the wall.
The Armed Forces and Police which failed to intervene and flush out the killers in spite of the daily reports of these outrageous massacres did not help matters.
The citizens’ patience has worn thin. If government does not immediately take drastic actions to stop the carnage and bring the culprits and their sponsors to justice, people will definitely be forced to defend themselves.
As we join in condemning incitements to anarchy, we demand that government must defend and protect the citizens.