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Thursday, July 5 members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) from the 19 Northern States and Abuja, led by Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam, visited him at the State House.<br />Photo: TWITTER/ NGRPresident

Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong and the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states held talks with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa yesterday.

Herdsmen in Plateau State allegedly massacred about 200 people recently. Other states in the north have also witnessed bloody clashes involving herders and farmers.

The leaders demanded a review of the country’s security apparatus with a view to ending the killings.

They also urged Buhari to facilitate the release of Leah Sharibu, the Christian girl abducted by Boko Haram alongside other students from a school in Dapchi, Borno State.

Leah is still being held for refusing to denounce her faith. The others, all Muslims, have since regained freedom.

CAN president for the northern states, Rev. Yakubu Pam, said: “The security architecture of the country should be revisited to give it a new lease of life and responsiveness to earn the required trust, confidence, and support of the general populace.

“All communities ravaged by herdsmen violence in the north should be rebuilt and adequate security put in place to enable displaced persons to return to their homes and means of livelihood.

“The Federal Government should roll out a robust advocacy programme to enlighten the nomadic herders on modern cattle rearing, as against open-grazing and roaming across states and national boundaries.”

In an interview with reporters after the meeting, Pam said: “We came with deep hearts, very heavy hearts, to talk to Mr. President.

Everybody who has any other thing to do today has left it, to make sure that we are here in our numbers.

And being here, today, is to say to him these killings should stop because most of the people being killed are innocent.”

On President Buhari’s response, he said: “Mr. President has said he will look into all we have presented to him.

And I believe we have the hope, as the father of the nation, he will do something about it.”

Asked to confirm whether CAN had taken a position not to vote Buhari in 2019, he said: “I am not the CAN president.

We are here as northern church leaders. I am only leading a region.”

On the president’s response on Leah, he said there was nothing specific.

The leader of the women’s wing of CAN in the 19 northern states, Mrs. Leah Olusiyi Solomon, particularly went emotional, pleading tearfully on her knees with Buhari to end the killings in the region.

She told journalists: “I am in deep pains whenever I see the killings of innocent ones and their mothers. I have been in pains.

I was asking if His Excellency will grant us an audience as Christian women in the northern states, so that we can come and cry and pray also that innocent children will be saved in the nation.”

Lalong, meanwhile, disclosed a plan by his administration to review the state’s criminal laws and introduce stiffer penalties for perpetrators of crimes such as the recent killings by herdsmen.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, following the leaders’ visit, Buhari said: “Government can achieve lasting peace only with the sincere and active cooperation of communities, religious leaders, youths and other stakeholders.

These include the media in whose hand is the power to frame, shape the perspectives and narratives, which influence the thinking of millions of people within and outside Nigeria.

“Let us collectively shame those who are stoking the fires of ethnic and religious conflicts for their short-term political gains.

This country belongs equally to Christians and Muslims and even those who claim ignorance of God.”

He condemned the killings in Benue, Zamfara and Plateau States, describing them as “wicked and completely unacceptable acts.”



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