No fewer than 23 pastors have been killed, while 200 churches have been shut down in Kaduna by bandits within the past four years.
The Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. John Hayab, disclosed this on Tuesday, at an emergency meeting with the State Commissioner of Police, Musa Garba, and pastors drawn from all over the state held at the Albraka Baptist Church, in the state capital.
The meeting, was meant to discuss on how to collaborate with the church to tackle the spate of insecurity in the state.
“A Pastor who was kidnapped on 8th August, 2023, told the CAN leadership that there are over 215 Christians abducted by the bandits in Birnin Gwani forest. They are still there and the Pastor told us that the bandits asked him to lead prayers for the 215 Christians while he was in their den.
“We are calling on the CP to look into this issue among many others holistically to build the confidence of the people once again.
“We have lost over 23 Pastors to bandits in Kaduna in the last few years. The recent one was the killing of Pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wayo when he went to his farm in Kujama in Chikun local government area. He hails from Kano State and he was serving God in Kaduna when the bandits shot and killed him. He was buried last Monday.
“Then the unfortunate incident that happened in Fadan Kamantan also added to the number of God’s servants that bandits have killed in Kaduna State.
“Let me say this to you, Commissioner, that over 200 churches have been shut down by bandits. The Baptist church probably has over 100 of their churches shut down. From Birnin Gwari to Chikun and Kajuru, the churches are no longer there.
“If you go to many churches you see pastors that came from churches that have been shut down because they cannot continue with it.” he said.
In his response, the commissioner condemned the attack of the St. Rachael Parish, Fadan Kamatan, urging the Christian clerics to “watch and pray” for the sustainability of lasting peace in the state.
Garba said bandits’ attacks were not peculiar to the Christian faith alone as other faiths had over the years fallen victims to similar attacks by the hoodlums.
He stated that whoever engaged in any act of criminality should be addressed as a criminal without profiling him or her as a Christian, Muslim or by their tribes or ethnicity.
“I want to express my deepest condolences to the family of the Catholic Seminarian that was killed by bandits at Kamantan last week in Zango Kataf local government area. That incident has really touched my heart. You can see the kind of callous people we have. People that can kill at random.
“It is unfortunate that the CAN chairman mentioned about 23 Clergies that were killed by bandits in Kaduna State at various times. It is unfortunate.
“However, this thing has been happening not only to the Christian Clergies, but it happened to almost everybody because crimes have no tribe, no religion. Criminals have no compassion, criminals are evil.
“If they want to do what they want to do they don’t look at who you are. Just a week before the Kamantan incident, bandits went to a village in Ikara local government area and killed the Imam and his deputy in a Mosque while they were praying.
“You know this time around insecurity is all over the country and all over the world. That is why in the book of Mathew 26: 41 says watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptations, the spirit is willing, but flesh is weakened. So this time around, what is left for us is to pray.
“We, the security agencies, are trying our best to fight crimes. That is why I said we are doing something different. I sat down in my office and looked at the situation in the States.
“The very day I resumed office, members of the press approached me, asking me what I intended to do immediately. I said my intention is to ensure that Kaduna residents sleep with their two eyes closed.
“What I did was to call all the Divisional Police Officers for a meeting and I told them whether they heard me when I told Kaduna people that I want them to sleep with their two eyes closed. They said yes. And I told them that they are the ones who are going to execute it.”
The Commissioner further said that the command was committed to ridding off crimes in the state and charged the clergies to always volunteer useful information to assist command so as to protect lives and property in the state.
“Don’t be afraid to give Police or to me directly information that will help us arrest criminals. But make sure that you give correct information because if you give me false information its an offence. I will hold you for that.
“Don’t give me information that is against your enemy because you have issues with your enemy you now tell me lies. Every information must be verified and correct. I want to assure you that Police in Kaduna are committed to protect lives and property which is one of our primary aims and objectives.
“We are committed to that irrespective of tribe and religion. The Police are non partisans. I cannot imagine as a leader to be partisan and say this is my own and this one is not my own.” he added.