By Sam Eyoboka, Caleb Ayansina & Funmi Olasupo
ABUJA – THE National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) has expressed displeasure over Federal Government’s inability to stem the ongoing carnage and destruction being perpetrated against local communities across the country by Fulani herdsmen.
The forum, which cited recent killings in Agatu area of Benue State where over 300 people were allegedly massacred by the herdsmen, lamented that the res-ponse of government to the mena-ce had been tepid and indifferent.
They also faulted attempts to fund deficit in the 2016 Budget through Sukkuk loan which is a “Sharia compliant loan” and the consideration of establishing “free visa” arrangement with Islamic D8 nations: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, and of course, Nigeria.
Addressing newsmen on the state of the nation, in Abuja, the chairman of the forum, Mr. Solomon Asemota (SAN), said “it is shocking that till today, there had been no prosecution of any of these marauders. For years the Fulani herdsmen have been murdering innocent Niger-ians with impunity.
“It is sad to note that ‘Boko Haram’ which is presently regarded as the world num-ber one most dangerous terror organization and the Fulani herdsmen, considered the fourth are both operating in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the response of government to the menace of these individuals has to date, been tepid and indifferent. The most recent case occurred in Agatu area of Benue State. According to media reports, over 300 Nigerians were allegedly massacred by the herdsmen and many communities were devastated in the attacks.”
On abduction and forceful marriage of under-aged girls, the forum bemoaned the forceful conversion of Christ-ian girls to Islam, insisting that the National Assembly had failed Nigerian Children by refusing to immune them from predators.
“We are saddened by recent exposures in the country, of serial cases of forceful abduct-ion of underaged, forceful marriage, marriage without parental consent of Christian girls and their forceful conversion to Islam. We condemn in totality this act of violation of the human rights of these girls and the degradation of our national values.
“We are also amazed that the Senate failed to pass the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill into law. We strongly recommend that this Bill should be re-introduced and passed into law urgently,” he said.
Asemota also called on the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai to retrace his step over the decision to legislate on how individuals worship. “We wish to express tremendous shock at the proposed Kaduna State Religious Bill. The proposed Bill contravenes Section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constitution. We should remind the Gov-ernment of Kaduna State that religion is personal and no one has the right to legislate on how individuals worship. We call on the Kaduna State governor to retrace his steps from this ill-advised venture,” he added.
The forum faulted what it described as the unilateral decision of President Buhari to include Nigeria in the membership of the Saudi Arabia Military Coalition of “Muslim/Arab” nations, warning that he should pull out before it would be too late, explaining that such misleading action would send a wrong signal before the global community that the foreign policy thrust of the present administration is to make Nigeria a satellite state of Saudi Arabia. Former vice president of CAN and presiding bishop of TREM, Dr. Mike Okonkwo also urged the Federal Government to wake up to its responsibilities to deal de-cisively with the Fulani herds-men issue.
Answering questions from our reporter in Lagos, the bishop argued: “The Fulani herdsmen cannot be carrying sophisticated weapons about and you expect the villagers to fold their arms. As long as these are not the usual Fulanis we used to know, it will always create problem anywhere they find them and people are now becoming weary of them. So, government should be decisive and appreciate that these people portend a terror and see them as enemies of the unity and progress of the nation.
In an Easter message to the nation, Okonkwo called for national reconciliation, adding “its normal as human beings to disagree at times, but we can disagree to agree for the sake of the unity of development of the nation,” stressing the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for mankind, adding “we should not just preach Christ by words of mouth, we should exemplify it by forgiving one another.”
On disunity in Christendom, the former CAN vice president assured that there is a lot of reconciliation currently going on, fences are being mended and very soon Nigerians will begin to see the evidence of efforts to reconciliation because “we cannot afford to remain disunited.”
He also called on the Federal Government and all security apparatus in the country to deploy every machinery to secure the release of the leaders of TEKAN/ECWA that were adopted by certain unknown elements in the country, arguing that no one in his right senses takes delight in kidnapping clergymen and demand some ridiculous ransom. Vanguard