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Nigeria’s Christian Leaders Urge Military to End Killings, Destruction of Farmlands

The Chairman of the Plateau State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Fr. Polycarp Lubo. Credit: CAN

Christian leaders in Nigeria have called on the military and other security agencies to end killings and destruction of farmlands in Miango chiefdom of Bassa Local Government Area in Plateau State.

Addressing the newly appointed Commander of the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Major General Ibrahim Ali during a visit Wednesday, August 4, the Chairman of the Plateau State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said, “The incessant attacks on innocent citizens has a huge set back to the peace process in the State.”

“This circle of killings in Miango and other parts of the State is very worrisome to us as leaders,” Fr. Polycarp Lubo said.

Fr. Lubo added, “The killings, destruction of farmlands and houses is one too many. Destruction of farmlands, if not urgently checked, will lead to famine and hardships.”

“This is why we are appealing to you and other security agencies to step up your game and end this menace,” the Nigerian Catholic Priest said.

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On July 31, gunmen reportedly killed seven people and razed over 250 houses in some communities in Miango chiefdom of Bassa in Plateau State, The Cable reported.

According to a statement signed by the Iregwe development association (IDA) national publicity secretary, the attackers also injured other residents and destroyed over 40 farmlands in the area.

“The attack, which lasted for over four hours unhindered, left over 250 houses razed down in Zanwra, Nche-Tahu, Rikwe-Rishe A and B, Ri-Dogo, Nchu-Nzhwa, all in Jebbu-Miango communities of Miango chiefdom,” the IDA national publicity secretary, Davidson Malison, has been quoted as saying.

“Seven people were killed, while several others were injured and are receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital,” Mr. Malison further said, and added, “Over 40 farmlands with a variety of crops were completely destroyed and several household items and domestic animals were carted away.”

Responding to the Plateau State CAN Chairman during his visit, Gen. Ali said his visit was to “familiarize himself and seek the prayers and support of the religious body to succeed in his primary assignment.”

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He promised to “deploy his wealth of experience to tackle the current security challenges in the State.”

The Commander also promised “to be professional, fair and just to residents, devoid of tribal and religious affiliations to entrench lasting peace to all parts of the State.”

Nigeria has been grappling with insecurity since 2009 when the Boko Haram insurgency began targeted attacks with the aim of turning Africa's most populous nation into an Islamic state.

Members of the Islamist group have been organizing random attacks on various targets including civilians, political and religious leaders.

Last month, members of CAN warned of a looming food crisis in the country due to what they called  “increasing insecurity.”

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“The increasing insecurity in the country has prevented farmers in many rural communities, particularly, in the north, from going to the farm,” they said in a statement issued June 16.

The Church leaders added, “The rains are here, but farmers cannot go to the farms for fear of being killed or abducted by bandits.”

“The implication of this is that a looming food crisis stares us in the face and unless steps are taken to provide a secured environment for farmers to return to the farms, we may be in for more trouble with a hungry and frustrated population,” CAN members said.

They called on the Federal Government “to urgently address the security situation once and for all to liberate Nigerians from criminal gangs and their reign of terror.”