Where was the military when the latest killing of 12 persons took place and not a single attacker was arrested?’
General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Reverend Musa Asake, hails from Unguwar Rimi, Bajju in Zangon Kataf Local Government of Kaduna State where he began his ministerial work as Assistant Pastor at ECWA Church in 1976. In this telephone interview Asake expresses disgust about government’s handling of the intractable Southern Kaduna crisis, saying CAN can only bark but cannot bite. Excerpts…..
What do you make of the situation in Southern Kaduna? The handing over to the military, is that the lasting solution to the problem?
They just started it but is the problem gone? We just had another gruesome killing of 12 people in Asso area of Jema’a LGA of Kaduna on Easter eve. Where was the military when the latest killings took place and not a single attacker was arrested? They (attackers) go in around 7.00 p.m., kill people and then go away. The Wednesday inauguration of a special operation, code-named ‘Operation Harbin Kunama’, to flush out bandits and other criminal elements in Southern Kaduna, to me, is actually going to help those people do their damage the way they want. I don’t see it solving the problem.
If the military has been there and they are still killing, how is it going to solve the problem now? I can guarantee you, if our boys had come out with sticks to defend themselves, they would have been arrested by the authorities and either taken to Kaduna or shot to death right there. That’s why we are telling our boys not to go out anymore but remain in their homes till they come for them. We don’t have guns.
Rev. Musa Asake
If we speak out against these things, our speech is often tagged hate speech. People have been talking to me, I feel so discouraged. They know exactly what they are doing. If you listen to the story by herdsmen, none of the officers or the authorities, nobody has condemned these people for the way they talk as if it’s their right to come and demolish your home, take over your land. They are there now in some of the villages. What are the soldiers doing? The last time they invited me, I refused to go. We have to agree that before any peace discussion can go on, let these people leave the villages they are currently occupying, let the villagers go back to their homes. If you make peace now, these people are settled there forever and it’s our land that they want. It’s really sad.
What is the ideal solution to this crisis? What do the people of Southern Kaduna want?
Left to me, the ideal solution is to be ready to die; go for our land and protect ourselves. But do we have the means? If you get up now, the soldiers will just shoot you. But if these other people come in their Hilux vans and everything with their sophisticated guns, they allow them pass. They are there in the bush, none of the security operatives wants to go there. If they really want to get rid of these people, let them go into the bush and clear them out of that place. When you approach them with such reports, the next thing is that they move out of that place because somebody would have hinted them. But I’m yet to see the soldiers go to that bush near Kagoro hill where they are. Why don’t the soldiers want to kill them? They can just bomb them from the air but they don’t want to kill them but they are happy to kill our people. It’s a very sad situation.
One of the Christian leaders from the place had advocated a creation of state for Southern Kaduna people. Do you see that as a solution?
That will help a lot because if they create a state for us and we are not able to manage it, that’s our own problem. But definitely, we will not allow someone to come in and start killing us and we will be keeping quiet.
What is the position of CAN beyond the verbal condemnations?
There is nothing CAN can do. CAN can only bark like a dog without biting. President Muhammadu Buhari never wanted to meet with CAN leadership….that will be the only place you can go and lay your complaints on the table but he doesn’t want to talk to you.
So all we do now is to complain in the media and how many people read newspapers? Who cares? I got tired of this social media thing. Things are happening there. I wish the brains that can create such writings can confront people but we don’t confront.
And the youths are agitated and ready for anything…..
That’s what the youths are crying for but they don’t have anything to fight with. I guarantee you that if they do, I give you one week, that thing will finish. There are many wishes. When our Lord Jesus was here on earth, He went about with His disciples, doing all He could and, at the end of the day, one of them betrayed Him. Let me tell you, wherever you find a group of Christians, there’s a traitor right there. So wherever you want to go and have a meeting, whatever you want to discuss, as you finish, the thing is already out. May God have mercy on us. They know that if we have the means and we set our boys loose the way they are setting theirs loose, our boys are ready to die for the cause they believe in. But who do you talk to? Is it our ex-military men? They can’t come together. Traditional rulers? They can’t meet. They have threats from government. Is it the pastors? We have categories of pastors. There are some pastors that have only one room and they are archbishops. They tell you they have seen a vision and you wonder maybe they did not have enough sleep last night.
You just get lost in the midst of the waters. We are crying out but how do we do it? Where do we turn to? One is stuck. When the Godogodo thing was going on, they will call me, they will be crying especially one day when our youths came out in large numbers and just one sergeant stopped them and told them that they should put down their weapons, assuring them that nothing was going to happen. The moment he calmed them down, men came out with their guns and attacked them savagely. They have their own ways of doing it.
I went to the army headquarters and reported these things. What happened thereafter? Nothing. We know the people, my people on ground know where they are, I listed all those things and gave it to him. I even told him that day that I was going to give him this but I know nothing would happen. He said why was I saying that? I told him by the time we wake up, those people will not be in the very position that they are right now. He said why? I said because they will know what I’ve just given you. And it happened exactly that way and he doesn’t take my calls anymore. God will help us. Let’s just continue to pray and trust Him.