Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) has expressed fears that the rising insecurity in some part of Nigeria, particularly in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the North, may greatly affect food production, resulting in Nigerians facing serious hunger next year.
The IDFP admitted that violence in Southern Kaduna and Birnin Gwari has been a recurring decimal over some years now, but the recent attacks have increased exponentially in frequency and destructiveness in both lives and property recently.
With reference to recent killings in Southern Kaduna, the Forum asked the Federal and State governments to quickly intervene and bring an end to the killings and destruction of communities in Southern Kaduna.
A statement jointly signed by the co-chairmen of the Forum, Alhaji Kunle Sanni and Bishop Sunday Onuoha, respectively, raised concerns that communities being attacked are predominantly farming communities that produce food for state and national consumption.
The statement said: ‘Coming during the farming season, the violence has threatened to unleash hunger on the people of the region and the State generally next year, as the predominantly farming communities are restricted to cultivating only their backyard farms for fear of attacks in their far-off farmlands.
‘Vulnerable populations like women and the youths are at higher risks. They face the risks of death and loss of sources of livelihood. They face the additional risks of rape and a break in educational pursuits respectively.’
The Forum, however, admitted that security agencies are doing their best to contain the crisis, but demanded that they be neutral and transparent in arrest and prosecution of those found breaching the peace of the people in the State, as a deterrent to other breaches in the future.
They also charged the State government to redouble its efforts in intelligence gathering and surveillance mechanisms in partnership with local community vigilantes.
‘Dialogue mechanisms should be put in place immediately by government agencies like the Kaduna State Peace Commission that has the mandate to do so, with the full support of the government. Traditional and religious groups should also promote genuine tolerance and forgiveness among communities in disputes.’
The Forum also suggested that more security posts should be put in place in strategic locations, and they should work with community structured vigilante groups that will help in early identification of incidences that could result in violence by reporting same to the relevant agencies for their prompt action.