Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Southern Kaduna Peace Practitioners (SOKIPEP) has condemned remarks reportedly made by General Zamani Lekwot (retd) in which he claimed that soldiers were taking sides in the raging battle in Southern Kaduna.
SOKIPEP National Coordinator Rev Dauda Fadia said in a statement said that remarks could dampen the morale of soldiers deployed to Kaduna to quell the violence and restore peace.
Fadia said: ‘The statement credited to one of our illustrious sons, General Zamani Lekwot, accusing Operation Safe Haven of taking sides in the ongoing crisis in Southern Kaduna is unfortunate.
‘The said statement by our revered statesman is not only misleading but also a blatant disregard to the efforts of the military which is sacrificing a lot to end the ugly trend.
‘While not holding brief for the military, as genuine peace lovers, we feel that we have a place in history to speak out even if it doesn’t favour our interest.’
He added: ‘We have a strong respect for the elder statesman. We strongly condemn his statement as we see it as unpatriotic and unfair to the military who are doing everything possible to restore peace in our area.
‘As a home-grown group that is apolitical and non-sentimental, we wish to state clearly that General Lekwot knows the truth about this crisis. He knows that there are criminals at both sides of the conflict and until we face this reality and deal with everyone involved as a criminal and not as tribal or religious bigots, peace will be far from our area.’
He claimed that: ‘We are the ones going round the entire length and breadth of Southern Kaduna preaching genuine peace and reconciliation so we can confirm that we have criminal elements who do not want peace and sometimes instigate these crises.
‘How can the elder statesman who should take the lead in preaching peace and encourage civil/ military relations for effective solutions, now be playing tribal and religious card just to satisfy some interests?
‘This is not the best way to resolve the crisis. What exactly does neutrality mean to General Zamani? Is it until the Commander lies that only the Fulanis are involved in killings that he would be satisfied?
‘The Commander’s statement is the true reflection of the situation in Southern Kaduna.
‘We must take the military out of our problems and face the real issues by coming together to the drawing board with a view to solving the age-long conflict in our area.
‘Our people are being killed, this is unacceptable. We condemned this barbaric act and urge everyone to do same but we must also quickly expose some of these criminals who sometimes instigate these senseless attacks.’