President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Samson Ayokunle, has asked the federal government to secure the release of Christians in captivity if it does not want to be regarded as a persecutor of the faith.
Ayokunle gave this condition to the government while speaking in an interview with the Punch.
“We have spoken again and again that the moral burden is on the government to get Leah Sharibu, in particular, released,” he said.
“She refused to abandon her faith and because of that, the terrorists said they were not going to release her and the government allowed it to be. That was not fair.
“The moral burden is on the government, if we would not see them as part of those persecuting Christians, to get Leah Sharibu and all other people who are held captive out of captivity, whether they are Christians or Muslims.”
He also said farmer/herder clashes have led to the deaths of many people in Christian-dominated areas like Benue, Taraba, Southern Kaduna and Plateau states.
He said to ensure peaceful co-existence, herders should be made to buy land in their host communities to rear their cattle. This, he said, would solve the issue of trespassing and make the herders “responsible”.
The CAN president also asked the federal government to be “sincere with the security of the people” in order to avert clashes.
“I once met with the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and we told them that if they really wanted peace in this country, migrating about on the land of other people could no longer be tolerated,” he said.
“What they needed was to get their own land. If you want to settle down in a community, approach the community (leaders) and buy the portion (of land) that you want to use. Raise your pasture and graze your animals there.
“They should begin to buy land. We buy land to build houses, establish farms and do many other good things. Why can’t they also buy land? They need to be responsible.”
Ayokunle also said there could be war if the government does not address the complaints of assaults on farmers.
He said: “That is why we appeal to the government to do the needful because if the herders continue to take law into their own hands, the people they are trespassing on their lands or assaulting will turn back to fight them.
“It may become a free-for-all; a state of disorderliness and war if we are not careful. People are reporting them now but a time will come when people will begin to retaliate and that would not do anybody any good.”