Press release by the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, Kaduna State dated Tuesday 20 December 2016:
ENOUGH OF THE BLOODSHED: PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF KAFANCHAN, KADUNA STATE, NORTH WEST, NIGERIA
We, the Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, welcome you to the Cathedral of St Peter Clavers. We are here to present to the world, the pains, agony and sorrows that have befallen us in this part of the State, the Southern Senatorial Zone of Kaduna State. Unfortunately, this crisis of tremendous proportion is happening at the time when, our Chief Shepherd, Most Rev Joseph Bagobiri is far away, outside the shores of this country attending to his health. This is the time when Southern Kaduna looks up to him for leadership. But he is not here. God knows why. The entire Presbyterium, Religious, the Laity and indeed the entire Southern Kaduna indigenes are united in prayers for him. May God heal him speedily and bring him back to the Diocese soonest.
In the last weeks and months, we have become victims of systematic attacks orchestrated by another version of Boko Haram, who also go by the name ‘Fulani Herdsmen’. This Militia, of the Fulani extraction is bent on pursuing an agenda that is aimed at subjugating the Southern Kaduna People, disintegrating the country, weakening the Gospel and grounding completely the social and economic life of our people. Suffice to State ab initio, that Southern Kaduna is no stranger to violence, perpetrated against it by Jihadists. The first known recorded violence of a large scale dates as far back as 1987 when a group of Muslim youth unleashed violence on Christians during a Revival organized by the Christian students of the College of Education, Kafanchan. The charge was that a certain Pastor was quoting from the Bible and the Quran to press home his point. This infuriated the Muslim students who interpreted this as blasphemy and consequently unleashed terror on the Christian students. This attack, naturally spiraled and there was a backlash as reprisal attacks were carried out across the length and breadth of the state.
In between the 1987 crisis and now, we have had some other attacks that were masterminded by our Muslim neighbors who have developed a penchant for war and hatred for peace. Suffice to mention in passing the Zangon Kataf crisis in 1992 and the 2011 post election crisis that claimed the lives of many people in Southern Kaduna. The events of the past weeks and months are unfortunate and further confirm that there is a hidden agenda targeted at the Christian Majority of Southern Kaduna. This Jihad is well funded, well planned and executed by agents of destabilization. Thus, our voice is like that of the one at Ramah that refused to be consoled (Jeremiah 31:15). We are however assured by the words of Christ that not a hair of our head will be lost (Luke 21:18).
For the records, Southern Kaduna Senatorial District is made up of Eight (8) Local Government areas: Sanga, Jema’a, Kaura, Jaba, Zangon Kataf, Kagarko, Kachia, and Kauru. These Local governments are densely populated by Christians. This land, fertile and agrarian, is blessed with adequate rainfall enough to make our crops yield bounteously. The beautiful hills and valleys are a sight to behold. It is this beautiful gift of God to the people of Southern Kaduna that our adversaries seek to covet by employing terrorism in order to occupy.
Our Land and Faith have become the envy of our traducers and persecutors. The gift of the Christian faith found a place in the hearts of our forefathers hundreds of years ago and today we can boast of a vibrant faith in Jesus Christ represented by the many denominations in Southern Kaduna and an army of Ministers of the Gospel who today have been elevated by God to various offices. It is a fact, that Southern Kaduna today is the oasis of vocations as 70% of the ministers of the Gospel from Kaduna state are of Southern extraction. This Faith and Gift, we are prepared to defend and guard even if it means dying for it. For who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Is it trials? Or persecution? Or the sword? Yet in all these, we are conquerors (Romans 8:35).
There is no better time than now to present this press release. We have had different groups in Southern Kaduna draw the attention of the world and government at different times by way of press releases since the eruption of the crisis. Most of it came at the peak of the attacks. Ours providentially is coming now, and regrettably still, the attacks have not abated. As we speak, villages and communities are being attacked daily by this militia. The worst hit Local Governments are Jema’a, Sanga, Kaura, and Kauru.
What started like a minor misunderstanding between Fulani herdsmen and indigenous farmers was badly handled and it soon took a different turn for the worse. Our people are largely farmers. They depend on their farms for sustenance. Our Farmers will labor all year round to cultivate their farms. The Fulani herdsmen will deliberately walk their cows into their farmlands. The cows will naturally eat up the crops and destroy the farmlands. For families that depend on this, one can better imagine the negative impact. So when this happens, the farmer confronts the Fulani herdsmen to seek a peaceful resolution. Most times, this gesture is met with stiff resistance as the herdsmen would threaten the farmer or begins a violent fight. In most occasions, because the herdsmen are armed to the teeth, they deal a heavy blow to the local farmer that result in death. Tension mounts and the indigenes would want to avenge the death of their loved one. This is the story all around and 99% of the intractable conflict between farmers and herdsmen are traceable to this.
It is therefore worrisome to us when a faceless group known as Concerned Southern Kaduna Muslims seek to distort the facts by way of twisting and misrepresenting the account to put the minority Muslims of Southern Kaduna as the victims while the Christian majority are the aggressors. This is far from the truth! All the violence that took place in Southern Kaduna, hardly was any masterminded by the indigenes. Or how could you explain the importation of heavily armed militia to prosecute the war on behalf of the Fulani? The mere presence of this killer squad is enough evidence and indictment of the Fulani as the masterminds of these crises.