By Chioma Gabriel, Sam Eyoboka & Levinus Nwabughiogu
Dissatisfied that security agencies cannot protect Christians from the raging killings in Southern Kaduna and many parts of the country, the National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, has urged Christians to defend themselves and avert certain death in the hands of “jihadists.”
Condemning the raging cycle of violence and destruction against Christian communities in Northern Nigeria, Middle Belt, and other parts of the country, the NCEF, in a statement by its Chairman, Elder Solomon Asemota(SAN), urged Christians to be alert and respond proactively.
The group also has as members former Minister of Defence, Lt.Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd), Prof. Joseph Otubu, Gen Joshua Dogonyaro, Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Dr Kate Okpareke, Dr Ayo Abifarin, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd), Justice Kalajine Anigbogu, Shyngle Wigwe, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and Priscilla Kuye, among others.
In the statement, entitled: “Lay Faithful Trust Fund” the NCEF condoled families and individuals affected in the genocide recurring in Southern Kaduna among Christian indigenous ethnic nationalities.
“Having received sufficient signals from the security units that they are incapable of defending and protecting Christian lives, the Christian Elders are, therefore, mobilizing Nigerian Christian leaders to evolve measures to protect and defend themselves because self-defence is legal.
Christian Trust Fund to be revived
“Christian Social Movement of Nigeria, CSMN, made it clear in its paper titled, ‘Born to rule to the graveyard’ that some tribes are is still on jihad in Nigeria in the 21st century. The group targeted by this jihad is the non-Muslim population in Nigeria, particularly the Christians.’’
According to Asemota, this is confirmed by the pattern of the attacks, including the deliberate violation of the Federal Character Principle in Section 14 (3) of the Constitution on Federal appointments.
“During its meeting on July 23, 2020, NCEF reviewed the situation in the country and passed a resolution to revive the Christian Trust Fund, which was earlier handed over to CAN in 2014 but became moribund under its care in 2018,” he stated.
Speaking further, Asemota said: ‘’The Christian elders concluded at the said meeting that unless Christians have a central purse to fund Christian advocacy and Christian interventions, the jihadists shall continually be emboldened to pursue ruthless and relentless attacks on Christians at all levels.
“A coordinated and well funded Christian response has become imperative in 2020, much more than the situation warranted in 2014 when the Trust Fund was introduced and handed over to CAN.
“NCEF assures Christians and, indeed, all Nigerians that as Christian elders, the object of the Lay Faithful Trust Fund is not to exacerbate violence in the land through sponsoring counter violent measures but to pursue a deliberate non-violent plan of building Christian structures to promote peace, protect Christians, and ensure balance and order in the country.”
The NCEF has called on CSMN, the socio-political arm of the Church, to commence immediately the establishment of Lay Faithful Trust Fund in accordance with Article 14 (1a) of its Constitution to mobilize critical funding to defend Christians and also ensure the survival of democracy in Nigeria.
It notified heads of the five blocs of CAN, the President of CAN, as well as the General Secretary of CAN on the need to resuscitate Christian Trust Fund in the collective interest of Christians in Nigeria, hoping that the previous mishandling of CAN Trust Fund shall not recur in the church.