The Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and civil rights activist, Mallam Shehu Sani yesterday condemned the multiple suicide attacks on churches in Kaduna and Zaria in which 16 people died and several others injured.
In a statement in Kaduna, the ACF and Sani expressed shock over the bombings of worship places by suicide bombers, pointing out that there was no justification for the killings of innocent people under any guise.
In its statement entitled: “Stop killing innocent citizens” by its National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani, the ACF said: “The reported bombings of some churches and other places in Kaduna and Zaria towns which have resulted in the loss of many lives and properties have come to Arewa Consultative Forum as a surprise.
“A big surprise because this is coming in the wake of an offer of constructive engagement or dialogue by the Federal Government at the instance of well-meaning Nigerians, including elders of the Northeast geo-political zone, which held a meeting in Bauchi last week.
“It is still the position of ACF that whatever may be the perceived grievances, it cannot be the justification for taking the lives of innocent people who are totally unaware of the nature of the grouse. More so, that there is no religion which allows its adherents to kill innocent fellow human beings. In fact, all religions preach peace and love of neighbour.
“Therefore, ACF would not be tired of repeated calls on those who kill themselves and other people to stop such killings, and embrace the offer of dialogue by the government as the only way of addressing any perceived grievances.
“The Forum also wishes to appeal to people not to take laws into their hands by way of reprisal attacks, precisely because any such reprisals would be misdirected at yet another set of innocent Nigerian.
“And to those who have lost loved ones and properties, the heart of the ACF goes to them in this difficult times with prayers for God to provide them with the fortitude to endure the losses as well as make it possible for replacement of the lost properties in many folds.”
In his statement entitled: “A call for peace”, Sani described the wave of violence that engulfed Kaduna and Zaria yesterday as most unfortunate and dastardly. I pray for the respose of the soul of those who lost their lives.
“I wish to call on all Muslims and Christians in the state to sheath their sword, eschew violence, resist the temptation of attacks and reprisal and embrace peace. As a people, we have experienced and overcome nearly three decades of religious violence.
“We must overcome this with the power of reason and courage. We must shun divisive acts and provocative and inciting onslaught. Enough blood have been shed here and other places and we must not add to the tally.
“Our country is today passing through a bitter and bloody experience of insurgency and sectarian violence. Our unity as a people and as a country is threatened. Our freedom and democracy is under threat. Our region is becoming demonised and inhospitable. Collectively, we are sinking to the dept of irrelevance. Our cities and towns have been turned to land of bombers, gunmen and religious violence.
“Peace is not an option, but the only option to reclaim those values of togetherness and harmony we lost. Religious leaders from both sides must stand up to the calling of our times; the calling of peace. We must collectively uproot the seed of hatred and intolerance that has today grown, threatening to consume us all.
“The insurgents engaged in these acts of violence must end the killings, embrace peace and the Federal Government must be genuinely committed to dialogue and a permanent solution to this protracted crisis.
“The option of the use of force by the government and the terrorising path of the insurgents is simply casting the helpless citizenry at the mercy of both sides. We must not submit or surrender to fear and we must not succumb to the phobia of dialogue”.