The Northern Christian elders Tuesday expressed concern over continued killings and kidnappings in the North ahead of the general elections, and tasked government at all levels to support security agencies to nip the situation in the bud.
Speaking under the aegis of Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF), the senior citizens urged the federal government and various state governments to rise in support of the security agencies at ensuring no part of the country is disenfranchised during the February/March polls.
The group made its position known in a statement by its chairman, Engr. Ejoga Inalegwu, a copy of which was made available to Blueprint in Kaduna.
It said: “NOSCEF again expresses concern over the incessant killings in the North, specifically targeting Christian clerics. Communities in Southern Kaduna and Niger states being the most affected. With the improved surveillance and deterrent measures being taken by the Security Forces in tackling the insecurity, we are surprised at the deteriorating situation arising in these areas.
“We call on the governments at the state and federal levels to give the security forces the needed support to sustain the push against the insurgency plaguing the nation, especially as we approach the 2023 elections, so that no section of the country is disenfranchised on grounds of insecurity. We were excited when politicians were able to make night visits to areas of hitherto high insecurity only to at the same time be greeted with sustained attacks against communities in Southern Kaduna at about the same time.
“As the 2023 elections approach, we urge parents to counsel their wards against making themselves available to be used as political thugs to cause violence during the coming elections. We urge Nigerians to disappoint politicians who in their desperate bid to win elections at all costs, embarked on divisive politics of exclusion, in-spite of the pleas of patriotic Nigerians. We plead with Nigerians to, with one voice, through the ballot box send the message that we reject those who believe that winning an election is more important than the harmonious existence of the nation.
“Remember that the massive money they are using to buy and make people compromise their conscience is our money. Whether you collect or don’t collect their ill-gotten money, be prepared to vote out those propagating politics of exclusion and make it unattractive for the future. We urge all registered voters to collect their PVCs to be able to exercise their voting rights in the forthcoming election.
“Our hearts go out to the families of Rev. Father Achi who was burnt alive in Niger state, his assistant who was shot, the many killed recently in the Kagoro attacks, the 25 people kidnapped during church service yesterday January 15th. 2023 in Katsina state and a host of others in the recent past. We pray for comfort for the families of those killed, the Church and God’s intervention for those in kidnapper’s dens and quick recovery for injured. We wish Nigeria a peaceful election that will mark a turning point to peace, harmony and prosperity.”
Police hqtrs set ablaze
In a related development, angry youths in Kafin-Koro, Paikoro local government area of Niger state, Tuesday set ablaze the Divisional Police Headquarters in the area in protest against the killing of a catholic priest, Rev. father Isaac Achi, barely 48 hours ago.
Police Public Relations Officer of the state command, DSP Wasiu Abiodun confirmed this in a statement in Minna Tuesday.
He said: “On 17/01/2023 at about 0900hrs, some angry youths of Kafin-Koro District, Paikoro LGA mobilized and protested in Kafin-koro town over the killing of the Parish Rev. Fr. Isaac.”
He added that during the protest, the rampaging youths attacked and set Kaffin-Koro Divisional Headquarters ablaze.
“The value of items damaged and burnt is yet to be ascertained, however, reinforcement teams led Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations has been dispatched to the scene and normalcy has been restored.”
Ransome bearers abducted
Similarly, kidnappers seized three members of a Baptist Church in Iwo, sent to deliver ransom for the release of two members of the church with the kidnappers.
The two members were reportedly kidnapped five days ago while returning from their farms in the Ileogbo area of Osun state.
A few hours after their abduction, the kidnappers contacted the family members and demanded a N10 million ransom for their release.
But a source in the church who requested anonymity for security reasons, told our reporter that families of the victims negotiated down the ransom to N6 million.
The source said the ransom was to be delivered at a location in Kogi State.
However, the three people sent to deliver the money were themselves abducted at the location.
“On getting to Kogi, all those who went to deliver the ransom were also abducted. The money is gone and three other persons abducted,” the source said.
Another source in the church who also requested not to be named said the N6 million ransom was contributed by Baptist Church members across the country.
“It was a fundraising across our churches. The leaders requested help from members of the church and people contributed.”
Yemisi Opalola, the spokesperson of the police in Osun State, confirmed the incident.
“We are aware of the abduction; we are working on how we will get them released.”
The state government has, however, directed the police and other security agencies in the state to ensure the victims are rescued. (Premium Times)