The chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Kaduna State chapter, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, has called on Governor Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai to enact a law in the state that will address many years of sectarian and communal crisis that have claimed many lives and unimaginable property.
Addressing newsmen in Kaduna on Monday, the state CAN chairman noted that the recently religious bill passed by the former members of the State House of Assembly was another way of causing division between the Christians and Muslims faithful in the state.
Rev. Hayab explained, “Have you checked all the crises in the state, the state government keep saying that they are sectarian, communal, among others factors that have caused many years of crisis and have always denied that they are not religious crisis. Why can’t the state government enact a law that will address such crises that have claimed many lives and property?”
He explained, “Manifestly, the government seems to have failed in its key responsibility of safeguarding lives and property of the people as stated in section 14 (2b) of the 1999 constitution as amended since armed bandits now, than ever before, continue to cause hapless citizens havoc at any time they so wish without fear of been captured.
“In fact, it is no longer news that people within Kaduna State are repeatedly being robbed, abducted or killed by armed bandits, often identified as Fulani herdsmen almost on a daily basis. Consequently, families and relations have had to cough out huge sums of money, amid scarce resources, to pay ransom to kidnappers to have their abducted relatives freed.
“At times even when the ransom is paid, the abductees are killed. At present, people in some rural communities in Kaduna State are unable to go to the farm purely for fear of being abducted, raped, or killed and yet all the government worries about is a preaching bill.”
CAN added, “Given the ominous purpose of the bill, we stand with the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Kaduna State chapter to legally pursue the matter to the apex court of the land. This is because, the Holy Bible commands all Christians, not just pastors, to go into the world and preach the gospel.
“While, according to some feelers, the government may appeal against the judgment, CAN wish to advice governor Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai-led administration that rather than dissipate valuable time and energy on a matter with a propensity to create further misunderstanding in the state, the government should focus its attention on the security challenges bedevilled the state.
“On the weight of the above, we interpreted the motive behind the bill as a gross violation of the rights of Christians and all people of faith to practice their faiths as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution section 38(1) that gives Nigerians the right to practice the religion of their choice.”
Stressing on the problems bedeviling Kaduna State, Rev. Hayab said, “To add salt to injury, recently the United Kingdom listed Kaduna State among the 21 states in Nigeria considered as red/danger zones where British citizens and other Europeans are advised against visiting. Isn’t that supposed to be the infuriating concern of the government?
“Therefore, the problem that should be of grave disquiet to the government of Kaduna State and the front burner is the way to secure our territory from the intrusion of armed bandits instead of compounding the problems with a bill that offends the set provisions of the Nigerian constitution. We, as a result, call on El-Rufai to devote his energy and attention to addressing the unending challenge of constant kidnappings of our people on the highway, in their farms and homes.”
The state government had in 2016 argued that the religious bill was meant to regulate religious preaching in order to promote religious harmony and peaceful coexistence to topple religious freedom.