Some Islamic clerics in Kaduna have accused Joseph Hayab, the state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), of politicising the insecurity in the state.
The Islamic clerics were reacting to a statement by Hayab who had said the church in the state had spent over N300m to secure the release of kidnapped members over the past four years.
But in a chat with journalist on Saturday, Yusuf Arigasiyu, secretary of the Ulamas, said Hayab’s statement was capable of inflaming crisis.
He said kidnapping is a security challenge faced by the whole nation, and perpetrators as well as their victims cut across ethno-religious divides.
“For instance, along Birnin Gwari-Kaduna road alone, between 22nd June and 30th July 2019, over 55 persons have been kidnapped and over 20 persons were killed, including five Nigerian air force and army personnel, according to news reports,” Arigasiyu said.
He added that majority of the citizens killed and kidnapped along Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi and Abuja-Kaduna roads and the border towns with Niger, Katsina and Zamfara states are Muslims.
“Muslims have always condemned acts of criminality and have called on the state and federal governments to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, irrespective of where they are or how they worship,” he said.
“If we may ask, where was Rev Hayab when on the 24 July 2018, Prof. Halima Idris, former commissioner of education in Katsina state, was killed along Kaduna-Abuja road by kidnappers? Where was he on 18 September 2017, when Sherrif Abidu Yazid was killed on the same Kaduna-Abuja road by bandits who also went away with his wife?
“Top civil servants from Zamfara state were kidnapped and killed on 16 July 2019 along Kachia-Kaduna road, what did the likes of Rev. Hayab say about all these killings? Only yesterday (Friday), the CAN chairman also resorted to telling his tales on television, by mischievously dressing a security issue as a religious one.
“In his wild allegation, Hayab claimed that there is a grand design to exterminate Christians and pastors in Kaduna state. This conspiracy theory is already breeding tension in the state. We also have it on good authority that Hayab’s divisive campaign is a ploy to set the stage for a bloodshed that is being hatched by the CAN chairman”..
Reacting, Hayab denied ever saying that only Christians were being kidnapped, adding that the Ulamas were being sponsored by some faceless people to divert attention from the security challenges in the state.
“We did not say only Christians were being kidnapped. We said they have been kidnapping people in Kaduna state, but the new trend these days is that they are kidnapping pastors, so what are they up to?” Hayab asked.
“Those who sponsored the Ulamas made a mistake by asking them to accuse me and twist my words. Let them go and ask the commissioner of police whether we are not informing them about those kidnap incidents. Interested, the commissioner of police is a Muslim, the state director of SSS is a Muslim, we are only telling them to do their work.
“As the leader of Christians in Kaduna state, if my house is on fire and I cry and you say I am raising issues for war, then it is quiet unfortunate! I will be a bad leader if I don’t speak out on the issues that are threatening the existence of my people.”
He added that some Muslims have also contributed to the payment of ransom for some of their abducted relations.