Christian officials in the Kaduna State government led by the deputy governor, Barnabas Bantex, have called on Christian clerics to desist from spreading rumours among their followers.
In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday, Mr Bantex alleged some Christian clerics were maliciously linking the killing of a traditional ruler, Maiwada Galadima, by kidnappers to the state government.
Read the statement
With me today are some of the senior government officials of the Kaduna State Government, who like me, are Christians serving the state with all the commitment we can muster.
This kind of gathering of Christians in Government has hardly ever been necessary due to the fact that our government has never designed and or implemented policies on the selective basis of Religion or Ethnicity. This government values everyone who lives in Kaduna State, treating all residents with the equality that the constitution prescribes and encouraging law-abiding conduct by all residents.
We have met to review the threat to peace in Kaduna State, and the focused steps taken by the leadership of Malam Nasir El-Rufai to restore calm. We are proud of the way the state government has contained and managed the crisis, collaborating with the security agencies and constantly assuring and engaging citizens. By acting swiftly to declare a curfew, and meeting with religious, traditional and community leaders, including those from flash point communities, the Kaduna State Government tried assiduously to build a coalition of peace.
For many residents of the state, the crisis was rightly seen as a struggle between those who want the good society, with its premium on harmony, law and order, and criminals who hanker after division, violence and destruction.
So effective was the calming action of imposing a curfew and the attendant security patrols that even the Secretary of the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria publicly called on the Kaduna State Governor not to relax the curfew too soon. The panoply of actions taken by by the Kaduna State government has been rightly praised as the surest means to restore calm and save lives and livelihoods in an atmosphere of tension. Consequently, demonstrable progress has been recorded to improve the situation in the state, encourage peaceful relations and bring people together.
We are therefore appalled by the role of certain pastors in spreading hate, encouraging violence and undermining the security efforts in Kaduna State. These apostles of hatred do not speak for us, and we condemn the attempt to reduce our religion into a vehicle or a convenient mask for the bloodthirsty to practice their trade of division, violence and destruction. We cannot condone illegal conduct even if it is perpetrated by people with whom we share the same faith.
We are shocked that pastors have desecrated the altar of faith to spew lies about the situation in Kaduna State. It has saddened and shocked us to watch videos of pastors preaching fiction and needlessly inciting people. Apart from creating the impression that the curfew affected only Christian residents of Kaduna, these pastors irresponsibly lied about the circumstances that led to the abduction and murder of HRH Agom Adara, Dr. Maiwada Galadima. Their professed knowledge of the motivations that led to the unfortunate situation around the late monarch should be of interest to the security agencies.
But as senior leaders of the Kaduna State Government, we wish to debunk their tissue of lies:
A. HRH Agom Adara was not coming from or going to a meeting with the Governor or any official of the Kaduna State Government on the day of his abduction.
b. The government and the security agencies tried their best to secure the release of the monarch from the abductors.
C. HRH Agom Adara was respected for his dedication and commitment to leading his chiefdom well. There was no contention or dispute between the Kaduna State Government and the late chief on the issue of chiefdom or emirates. We are not aware of any Islamization agenda, and we urge those who mouth its existence to cease and desist from this despicable bogey man allegation, which also constitutes a most unfair insult to everyone in the leadership of the Kaduna State Government.
D. Mrs. Victoria Galadima, the wife of the late royal father, was appointed Permanent Secretary by the current government before her retirement.
E. Curfews are applied whenever the risk of a security breakdown becomes too severe. The duration of a curfew is dictated by the magnitude of the security challenge. A curfew inconveniences everyone in the affected area, but it is better than the alternative of killings and destruction. In the 2016/early 2017 period of violent conflict in parts of the southern Kaduna senatorial district, the Kaduna State Government at times had to impose 24-hour curfews on the flashpoint communities.
F. Criminals have inflicted pains and losses on many of our citizens through kidnapping and banditry. This is a security challenge that the state government has been working to resolve. It is most unfortunate and improper to blame the despicable actions of criminals on religion, or insinuate government involvement.
At least one of the videos to which we refer features the pastor hinting at ties to a party to some of the criminal activity that happened during the Kaduna unrest. It is within the province of the security agencies to interrogate this.
As political office holders who are also Christians, we welcome the intervention of Christian leaders like the Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna and the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State in advancing peace. Security issues should not be invested with unnecessary religious coloration. Crime and its consequences imperil everyone!
We condemn without hesitation the irresponsible utterances and conduct of persons who disgrace the very notion of priesthood. Christianity obliges us to the finest standards of conduct, propelled by our faith in God and His abiding grace.
Christians are enjoined by our faith to strive to live up to the standards of compassion and tolerance to which we are commanded by Christ’s example in the Sermon on the Mount. We are admonished as Christians to speak only of the things of which we are certain. St. Paul reminded us in 1st Thessalonians 5:21 to Examine Everything, and hold fast to that which is good. Ignorant commentary on government policy is as rascally and repugnant as weaving false narratives to create the impression of victimhood.
The attempt to paint the Kaduna State Government and its leadership in religious garbs must stop. It is a government within which we as Christians proudly serve, and which makes its decisions guided only by the oath of office to which we have all sworn and the constitution.
Enough is enough of this reckless misuse of the apostolic mandate. Pastors have a mission to promote peace, bring people together, and motivate them to better follow the example of Jesus Christ. The reckless rhetoric from some pastors reminds decent people of the unfortunate involvement of pastors in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
We urge the leaders of the Christian faith to urgently address the matter of that constituency of pastors who are never seen to encourage what is good and noble, but who seem to find their voice whenever an opportunity to widen cracks appears. As Christians, we would not allow anyone to use our faith to justify any crime, to engage in reckless incitement and divide a state many of whose residents admirably demonstrated respect for a common humanity during the latest crisis.
As Christians, we are part of this government and its decisions. As Deputy Governor, I am a member of the Security Council, and routinely preside over its meetings. Like my colleagues, we do not view our faith as a bargaining chip or as an instrument for seeking advantage. Our Christian faith is a precious resource, a personal matter of relating to God, seeking to be better with God’s grace and working to ensure our personal conduct reflects the discipline of our faith. We reject in totality any effort to politicize Christianity.
We call on every resident of Kaduna State, whatever their faith, to stand together and resist those who seek to divide us. We commend the clear commitment to peace by our communities and we appeal to everyone to deny criminal elements refuge in faith or tribe. Faith should bring us closer to God, not push us to harm and destroy others who were created by the same God.
Signed on behalf of senior KDSG officials who are Christians:
Barnabas Yusuf Bala
Deputy Governor of Kaduna State
1st November 2018