The Presidency said on Tuesday the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was working hard to secure the release of all hostages taken by Boko Haram and to re-unite them with their families.
The Presidency spoke in reaction to recent statements credited to the Christian Association of Nigeria on Christian hostages held by terrorist groups.
It said, “The security forces of Nigeria are working continuously to return those taken hostage by Boko Haram to their families, friends and communities. In doing this, the government has full confidence in their ability to accomplish the task.”
CAN had, in a statement by its President, Dr Samson Ayokunle, warned about grave dangers ahead, saying that the Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province were working together, attacking more Christian villages.
Recall that on Christmas Day, ISWAP executed 11 hostages, 10 of whom were Christians, to avenge the death of their leaders, Abu bakr al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir in Iraq and Syria, respectively.
The body stated, “CAN Chairman in Michika, Adamawa State, Rev Lawan Andimi, was abducted by Boko Haram terrorists some days back when they invaded the predominantly Christian community. We were told troops repelled the terrorists but not until they had successfully forced Rev Andimi into their Toyota Hilux and took him away.”
“The innocent cleric, in a video footage released by his captors, has been making appeal to the Federal Government, the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Umar Fintiri, and the leadership of CAN to come to his aid.”
CAN added, “As if that was not enough, there was an attack on Kasaya village, another Christian community in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, on Monday about 6.30am. The attackers were said to have abducted 41 people, including a pastor, Rev Joshua Samaila. Up till now, nobody knows what has become of them.”
“Similarly, on 27th November, 2019, Mr Bitrus Bwala, a principal lecturer at the College of Education, Gashua, Yobe State, and 10 others, who are all Christians, were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists. Bwala, in a short video released recently, cried out for help. But up till now, the government has yet to secure their freedom or say anything about them.”
“These are all evidence of Christian persecution in the country, and when we cried out in support of the position of the US Government, some people would say it was untrue. If criminals are invading Christian communities, killing and abducting people unchallenged, what do we call it if not deliberate persecution?”
But the Presidency, in its reaction, called for caution, urging Nigerians not to fall for the plan of terrorists to divide Nigeria on religious lines.
“Not seeing them as they should be is exactly what the terrorists and groups wish; they want Nigerians to see their beliefs as reason to turn against one another.”
“On the contrary, Christians and Muslims alike are united in their opposition to Boko Haram and the hatred for decency that the infamous group stands for,” the statement read.
The Christian Association of Nigeria has said it will not stop criticising the Federal Government until it improves the security situation in the country.
The body also said the government must ensure the release of Christians and other Nigerians in Boko Haram captivity.
“The government should wake up to its primary responsibility to protect the lives and property of the people,” CAN spokesman, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, said in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
He added, “Calling on the Federal Government to free our members from their captors who claim to be attacking us on religious grounds is the right thing to do in this situation we have found ourselves.”
Oladeji contended that criminals were still targeting predominantly Christian communities, killing, maiming and abducting the people with or without resistance from the security agencies.
The group admonished the government to wake up to its responsibilities “and see if we will not stop talking about its failure to protect our members.”
“If the government has not been treating those criminals with kid gloves, let them publish the names of their kingpins, the terrorists, herdsmen killers and bandits in their custody and those who are being prosecuted in the court of law for the world to see,” the CAN spokesman challenged the government.
He said there was nothing to show that the government was willing to rescue Leah Sharibu and the remaining Chibok girls in Boko Haram den, stating that they were being held because they were Christians.
Meanwhile, the lawmaker representing Michika/Madagali Federal Constituency of Adamawa State in the House of Representatives, Mr Dauda Zakaria, has urged the Federal Government to secure release of the Chairman of CAN in the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, from Boko Haram’s captivity.