Christian Youth Leaders in Nigeria against Amnesty, Rehabilitation of Bandits, Insurgents

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Christian youth leaders in Nigeria have expressed their opposition to recommendations a section of Nigerian leaders have made to the Federal government to pardon and reintegrate “bandits and Boko Haram insurgents” who have been terrorizing the people of God in the West African nation.

On Easter Sunday, April 4, former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo and a renowned Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, urged the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal government to consider rehabilitating criminals who surrender, as a means of resolving the insecurity crisis in the country.

“We oppose amnesty and rehabilitation of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents, and the government will be wrong to think that, by doing so, they (bandits and insurgents) will turn a new leaf,” officials of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Youth Wing (YOWICAN) say in their Sunday, April 4 statement obtained by ACI Africa.

Such a move, the Christian youth leaders caution, "will simply be encouraging blackmail and hitting the lives of the defenseless citizens before firing squad.”

In their statement signed by YOWICAN’s National Chairman, Belusochukwu Enwere, the Christian youth leaders “condemn and frown seriously at the intra-communal war” pitting the Ezza-Effium and Effium clans within the territory of the Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki, Southeastern Nigeria.


Renewed armed clashes between members of the two clans on February 23 led to the death of at least 25 people, torching of 125 houses, and the vandalizing of several gas and fuel stations, Ebonyi Governor, David Umahi was quoted as saying.

The youth leaders of the ecumenical body that includes representatives from the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) also condemn the March 28 “killing of over 16 persons aged between 18 and 56” in Obeagu community in the same ecclesiastical jurisdiction by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

“We demand justice for the victims in both crises. It is surprising that brothers in Ezza-Effium and Effium clans have declared war on themselves, the end of which nobody can predict,” the YOWICAN representatives bemoan in their April 4 statement.

They go on to castigate the March 20 “assassination attempt” on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and the March 31 similar endeavor on the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo.

Governor Ortum was reportedly ambushed by gunmen from the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) in his farm at Tyo-MU along the Makurdi-Gboko road on March 20.

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In a March 22 news report, FUNAM’s leader, Umar Amir, is quoted as saying that the group had the “unequivocal” intention to kill the governor.   

In the report, Mr. Amir made reference to the March 20 attack saying, “Our courageous fighters carried out this historic attack to send a great message to Ortum and his collaborators: Wherever you are, once you are against Fulani long-term interest, we shall get you down. This is a clear warning. We hope those who take us for granted will get the indisputable message.”

On his part, Prof. Soludo who is a candidate for the Anambra State governorship position in November polls was attacked by armed gunmen during a March 31 interactive session with youths within the area, an attack that left three police officers dead.

“These are not acceptable to Nigerians. All these threats to life must stop; we must live together as one Nigeria,” the Christian youth leaders say in their April 4 statement, adding, “From all what is going on in different parts of the country, it is obvious that Nigerians have declared war against themselves. “

Making reference to the arms used by the bandits, the youth leaders pose, “How did the deadly weapons find themselves in private hands?”


“Although the government has tried, the best option is to embark on a mission to mop up all the arms and weapon in circulation,” they recommend as a way forward.

Terming the youth as “agents of change,” the Christian youth leaders urge young people in Africa’s most populous nation to “avoid being used by politicians for thuggery; reject being enlisted into the Army of bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram.”

“Accept to be enlisted into God’s Army,” YOWICAN’s officials urge their fellow youth in their April 4 statement, and add, “Let us turn from our evil ways to good. Let this Easter be the beginning of a positive change in our nation, Africa and the world at large.”

The Christian youth leaders in Nigeria further say, “As we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I enjoin us all to imbibe the spirit of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, perseverance and tolerance that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ taught us.”