Clerics in Nigeria’s Plateau State Cautioned against “inciting, provocative statements”

Logo of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Jos North Local Government Area (LGA), Plateau State, is cautioning religious leaders, including Muslim Clerics, against pronouncements that are likely trigger violent reactions.

In a statement signed by CAN Chairman and Secretary in Jos LGA, Fr. Polycarp Gana and Rev. Ezekiel Noam respectively, the Christian leaders react to a Muslim Cleric’s remarks, reportedly threatening to kill Christians in Nigeria.

“We call on clerics in the State to desist from making inciting statements but preach peace, understanding, and solidarity among the people,” CAN officials have been quoted as saying Wednesday, August 25 in reference to the reported pronouncements by the Muslim Cleric, Alkali Abubakar Salihu Zaria. 

Mr. Zaria has been quoted as threatening Christians in various Nigerian States following the August 14 attack on Muslim travelers who were returning from the commemoration of the Islamic New Year in Nigeria’s Bauchi State.  

The attack left at least 22 people dead, Reuters reported August 15.


“Here is my message to the infidels in Plateau and to Christian Association of Nigeria Plateau and to CAN Nigeria in general. I swear to God almighty, if such ever occur again, there are Christians in Kaduna state, there are Christians in Zamfara state, there are Christians in Sokoto, they are in Katsina, Kebbi. There are Christians in Gombe, Damaturu and Yobe and there are major roads. We will also block the roads, waylay Christian commuters,” the Muslim cleric has been quoted as saying.

He continues, “We are not fools and we are not afraid of anyone. If nothing is done, we will take the law into our own hands because no life is superior to others and I swear, compensation must be paid for the lives of the people lost.”

“Every infidel should prepare; he will leave the earth if nothing is done about our people that were killed in Jos. I swear, we will revenge and you should know that the life of one Muslim is equivalent to 100 infidels,” Mr. Zaria reportedly said during a sermon.

In their August 25 statement, Plateau State CAN officials say, "Religious leaders must stop making provocative statements at this time that we should be making efforts as leaders to assuage frayed nerves by words from the holy books which should build, rather than further tear us apart.” 

The Christian leaders “condemn aggressively” the Tuesday, August 24 attack on the the people of God in Yalwa Zangam community that reportedly resulted in the loss of 36 lives. 

More in Africa

“This is sad, unfortunate, and worrisome,” CAN officials in Nigeria’s Plateau State say in reference to the attack on the community located behind the University of Jos on the night of August 24.

According to local media reports, the attackers destroyed a bridge leading to the community before launching the attacks. The gunmen also torched several houses in the community.   

In their August 25 statement, the Christian leaders in the Nigerian State condole with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack and call “for sincerity of purpose on the part of the government in terms of entrenching lasting peace in the State.”

They also urge Nigerians to exercise vigilance amid increased attacks in the Jos North LGA. 

Following the August 24 attack, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has repotedly re-imposed a 24-hour curfew in Jos North LGA, Plateau State. 


“Plateau State Government has reinstated the 24-hour curfew earlier relaxed in Jos North Local Government Area following growing tensions arising from the attack on Yelwa Zangam village of the Local Government where people were killed and properties destroyed,” the Director of Press and Public Affairs to the Governor of Plateau State, Dr. Makut Simon, announced in an August 25 Facebook post

Last week, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto blamed the unceasing killings in the West African nation on inciteful reporting that identifies victims with their religious affiliations.

“In Nigeria you die either as a Muslim or a Christian. Nigerian citizens don’t die,” Bishop Kukah said August 15.

The Nigerian Bishop added, “We know that when you say that Muslims have been killed, you boil the blood of Muslims and when you say that Christians have been killed, you boil the blood of Christians so as to prepare for revenge. These are some of the reasons why violence continues in Nigeria.”

On August 23, the national leadership of CAN urged the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to go beyond statements and meetings and address the country’s challenge of insecurity or admit defeat and “throw in the towel.”

(Story continues below)

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.