From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) has described the wave of abductions of students in parts of Northern Nigeria as a major setback for educational development in the region.
The group called on all tiers of governments to beef up security around schools in the region, particularly boarding schools, to curb the menace of banditry and kidnapping.
The IMC further called on religious leaders and other citizens to be mindful of their utterances on issues that could lead to violent conflict.
This was contained in a communique issued by the group’s director, Samson Auta, after its monthly discussion on media on peace journalism in Kaduna.
The communique read in parts:
‘We lament the attacks on Secondary Schools in northern Nigeria, especially in the boarding schools, saying that the menace has significantly caused a major set back on educational development in the region. We are appealing to state government to provide the security of the students and teachers in both public and private Institutions.
‘We are appealing to religious leaders in the country to always preach on the need for peaceful co-existence amongst their followers, so that we will have a conducive environment for all Nigerians.
‘The participants reacted to recent comments in the public domain that could trigger violent conflicts around raging banditry in Nigeria.
‘The group noted that comments and reactions are still generating tension in the country, especially considering the increase in the level of insecurity in the land.
‘In the Forum’s overview within the month of February 2021, it was observed and advised that statement that can trigger violence and disunity should be avoided in order not to endanger the lives of the citizens.
‘While we call on the general public to disregard comments that can lead to violence in Kaduna State and Nigeria as a whole, they also lamented the increase rate of Kidnapping and killing of innocent people in some parts of the country which have also led to increase number of widows and orphans, as well as economic hardship, in the country.
‘As a result of redeployment of heavy security personals along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway, kidnappers/bandits along the rout; have now moved to the Southern part of Kaduna, terrorising communities in the region.
‘Furthermore, it was observed that the menace has forcefully led to people of affected communities to migrate to other safer environment for the safety of their lives.
‘In this regard farmers in the affected communities, had abandoned their farmlands, and this might lead to food crises and increase in malnutrition in the region and other parts of the country.
‘The menace also led to massive migration of affected communities within the period to other parts of the country.
‘If Nigerians leader lead the citizens peacefully, definitely peace will reign in the country as a whole.
‘We condemned the threat by some politicians especially in Northern Nigeria, directing their supporters to reserve their weapons to defend themselves ahead of the 2023 general elections, and we see this a a big threat to peace and stability of the country.’