Service Chiefs’ Exit Overdue, Says ECWA President As He Condemns Southern Kaduna Killings

The replacement of Nigeria’s service chiefs is long overdue, President of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Rev. Stephen Panya Baba, has said “in full support of the resolution adopted by the Senate”.

He stated this in an article published on Wednesday, citing the “dismal security situation” in the country, especially in Southern Kaduna where there are many Christian communities.

“We once more emphatically lend our voice in full support of the resolution adopted by the Senate during plenary calling on the Service Chiefs to resign or be sacked by the President due to the multi-pronged security challenges in the country,” he said. 

“The security leadership architecture of this country needs to be urgently restructured for it to be more inclusive and to reflect the various diversities of our nation, in order to be more effective in accomplishing its mandate of protection of lives and properties of citizens and defending our nation from internal insurgencies and external aggression.”

This year, the Senate has twice asked the service chiefs to “step aside” or be removed by President Muhammadu Buhari: the first time in January and then again on Tuesday. In a poll conducted by HumAngle between Monday and Wednesday, 84.4 per cent of the respondents agreed with the lawmakers while 10.3 per cent were indifferent. 

Rev. Panya described the recent onslaughts in Southern Kaduna as “very disturbing”.

“It is even more worrisome and curious that these attacks on agrarian Christian communities have become heightened in this farming season when the people who are expected to be actively engaged in their farms have been displaced and denied access to their farmlands. This is suggestive of a complete state of anarchy,” he said.

He referred to the attacks in Chibob, Kigudu, Surubu, and Kukun Daji between July 10 and 19, leading to the killing of at least 42 people. On Monday, gunmen again killed 10 people, including the village head, in Gora Gan, Zango-Kataf Local Government Area.

“The manner in which these attacks are being launched against Christian communities suggest clearly that the invaders are encamped in not too far locations from the villages. Yet, the state and federal governments have not done much to confront the attackers or stop the killings,” the ECWA President said.

“The belated attempt of recent by the Federal Government spokesman, to explain these killings as an evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds, and calling on the security forces to intensify their effort against the killings, is not different from the normal rhetoric which have often amounted to nothing.”

The cleric said the attacks and destructions have become unbearable and condemned inaction from government officials.

“There are no sympathy visits to the remnant victims in the communities. There are no steps taken to alleviate their sufferings by providing relief materials to them since they have been made Internally Displaced Persons in their thousands,” he observed.

“We appeal to the states, federal government and humanitarian organisations to urgently reach out to these communities across the local governments that are currently displaced and to do everything humanly possible to stop the killings and protect the people from further attacks. It is summarily unfair to place a curfew on indigenous communities while letting their enemies go after and cut them down defenselessly.”

Because of the government’s failure to adequately protect the people, he suggested, communities should be allowed “under the supervision of security outfits, to reasonably arm themselves for self-defence, since the security outfits have admitted that they are overwhelmed and unable to provide adequate security as they would want to”.

“Nevertheless, ECWA still pleads with the security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities of protecting the lives of all citizens and to be fair in their engagements in the communities,” he added.

“The Church hereby extends its sympathy to families and communities who have suffered losses as a result of these attacks and pray that God Almighty will continue to comfort and strengthen their faith through these trying moments.”

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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