Kaduna State Council of Imams and Ulama, on Saturday, reacted to recent comments by the state Chairman of CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab on the security challenges in the state.
The Council’s Secretary General, Malam Yusuf Arrigasiyyu, said at a press conference in Kaduna that Hayab’s comments were unfortunate and an attempt to politicise the issues to achieve a hidden agenda.
The state Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had on Aug. 9, in a press statement claimed that over 500 Christians were kidnapped in the last two years in the state and N300 million paid in ransom to Fulani kidnappers.
He was also reported to have claimed that there is a grand design to exterminate Christians and pastors in Kaduna State.
Reacting, the council said “The politicization of the security challenge in Kaduna State by the CAN chairman, for only God-knows why, is worrisome and he should be called to order before it’s too late.
“Failure to do this, the consequences of his unbridled verbiage will no doubt lead to breakdown of law and order in the state, if urgent steps are not taken.”
The council said it would not sit by and watch the divisive rhetoric of the Chairman endanger lives of innocent citizens and pitch the people against one another.
The Imams accused Hayab, who is a politician, of hiding under CAN to execute a hidden agenda.
“As followers of the religion of peace, the Council of Ulama finds it pertinent to sound this alarm in order to forestall breakdown of law and order,” it said.
It noted that Hayab’s statement “is as divisive as it is patently false, especially the claim that kidnappers only abduct Christians in Kaduna State.”
The clerics noted that kidnapping has become a nationwide security challenge and the criminals as well as their victims cut across ethno-religious divides.
“For instance, along Birnin Gwari-Kaduna Road alone, between 22nd June and 30th July 2019, over 55 persons have been kidnapped and over 20 persons were killed, including five Nigerian Air Force and Army personnel, according to news reports.
“Specifically, majority of the citizens killed and kidnapped along Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi and Abuja-Kaduna roads and the border towns with Niger, Katsina and Zamfara States have been Muslims.
“However, we never viewed the unfortunate situation from a religious angle.
“In fact, we have always condemned the act of criminality and have called on the State and Federal Governments to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, irrespective of where they are or how they worship.”
It added that the attempt by the CAN chairman to allude to “conspiracy theory is already breeding tension in the State.
“We also have it on good authority that Hayab’s divisive campaign is a ploy to set the stage for a bloodshed that is being hatched by the CAN Chairman.
“On this note, we want to draw the attention of all lovers of peace, security agencies, Federal and State Governments, not to look far in the event of a breakdown of law and order in Kaduna State.
“We are also appealing to people of goodwill and conscience, to put these divisive elements to shame, by ignoring their drumbeat of war.
“In fact, they are ethno-religious warlords disguising as peacemakers.”
It assured that the council and other Muslim bodies would work together with genuine Christian faithful to curb the activities of hate-mongers and purveyours of falsehoods, in the name of evangelism.