- Forces non-Muslims to observe Ramadan fasting… Residents scared of exposing them – civilian JTF chair
From NOAH EBIJE, Kaduna
BARELY two weeks after the alleged Kano blasphemy that claimed the life of one Mrs. Bridget, a gang of six armed Muslim youths stormed the Kakuri area of Kaduna State and repeatedly stabbed a man for not observing the daily fast between sunrise and sunset practiced during Ramadan.
Ramadan is the 9th month of Islamic calendar during which Muslims fast between dawn and dusk. Although a practice for the Muslim faithfuls, a group of troublemaking young people engaged themselves in delinquent behavior, forcing non-Muslims to observe the fasting or get stabbed.
The victim, Francis Emmanuel, 41, a carpenter by occupation, was receiving medical attention, with deep cuts all over his body, at Saint Gerald’s Catholic Hospital, Kaduna, as at the time of filling this report.
Francis told newsmen on his hospital bed that on arrival from the market where he had gone to buy wood for his carpentry job, he settled down to a meal of okpa (moi-moi) in front of his shop and that while eating at 2:30 pm on Tuesday, the six boys walked up to him and raised a question as to his religion. “They asked me whether I am a Christian or a Muslim. I did not answer them. They went on to ask me why I am not fasting (Observing the Ramadan), and at this point I told them I am not a Muslim.
“Before I knew what was happening, all of them surrounded me with knives, and started stabbing my head, my eyes, my back, my chest. Nobody came to my rescue. People in the area started running away because of the dangerous knives the boys were carrying and brandishing. I don’t know them, but they came out of Gora junction by Sokoto Street in Kaduna. They also used cutlass and scissors on me. I don’t know how I found myself in the hospital. I don’t know who brought me to the hospital,” he explained.
Chairman, Civilian JTF, known as Kato Gora in Kakuri area, Alhaji Buhari Ahmed Tanko said terrorists have taken over the area, adding that residents are afraid of exposing them because they will turn round to attack such a person.
Tanko recalled that the gang made mess of the comatose Kaduna Textile company by looting the machineries and other infrastructures within the premises.
He said the JTF would not rest until the terror gang is rooted out and ensure peaceful coexistence irrespective of religious differences in the state. When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Zubairu Abubakar, said he was yet to be briefed about the incident by DPO of the area.
However, Chairman, Civilian JTF, who also confirmed the incident told Journalists that his men were making frantic effort to get all the offenders arrested.
“One of the culprits is on our wanted list. We will get all of them in no distant time. Their action is unIslamic. They are criminals hiding under religion. This is happening in the holy month of Ramadan. It is too bad. We will get them arrested and hand them over to the police,” Tanko said. Saturday Sun, however, gathered that a member of the Civilian JTF who was around the vicinity where the incident happened intervened and rushed the victim to the hospital.
It was also learnt that two hospitals in Kakuri, had earlier rejected the victim, despite an order by the state governor that gunshot wound patients should be treated pending police report. In his reaction, Secretary of 19 Northern States Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Yerima Danladi, said: “I am worried about what is happening in the country. In fact, it needs serious consideration by government and all stakeholders because what is happening in the northern part of the country is such that, it is as if we have two countries.
“We have a system of government that is insensitive to the plight and security of the people. Sometimes ago, Muslim fanatics attacked one Emmanuel in Niger State, killed him under the guise of blasphemy. Last week, a woman was killed in Kano under the same guise. Today, again, in Kaduna, this incident has happened and these things are done with impunity because the perpetrators believe that other people do not have life to live in this country.
“What we see today is a situation where people have taken it upon themselves to decide how people should practice their religion. Kaduna, for sometime now, has been enjoying some relative peace. But if things like this continue, the relative peace that we have been enjoying will be tampered with and I believe government should do something about it,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, Kaduna State Government has strongly condemned the attack on citizen Emmanuel, and directed the police to arrest the perpetrators of the attack, warning that there is no room for religious violence and criminality in the state. The state governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, who led a team of senior government officials, including the deputy governor, Arch. Barnabas Bala Bantex, to visit the victim at St. Gerald’s Hospital where he is recuperating comforted the victim and promised that the government will not allow any criminal to hide under any religious guise or to use religion as justification for violating the right of any citizen.
“The government will not allow anyone to get away with any crime using his or her faith as an excuse. There is no compulsion in religion. It is a free country, and that means no imposition of faith or religious practices on anyone.
“We sympathize with our fellow citizen, Francis Emmanuel. We have assured him that we will not allow anybody to violate his right, or that of any other citizen. The Kaduna State Government is resolute in its stand that all criminals, including those who try to hide under Christianity or Islam, will be tackled and prosecuted.
“We have been given faith to live our lives in obedience to the Almighty, and to let that obedience manifest in our kindness to others, the honesty of our conduct and the consistency of our hard work. Care and compassion for others is one of the noblest ways of demonstrating love for God. “We implore everyone to do their duty to uphold peace and security in Kaduna State. We should not allow differences in faith to be a barrier to harmony or a cause for conflict. Nobody can impose the tenet of his faith on another person. The decision to observe any religious activity is the prerogative of the individual. Let us all remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the security agencies,” the governor admonished.
The victim’s elder brother, Paul Uloko , also spoke on the incident, saying, “we are calling on the authorities to fish out these barbarians and bring them to justice,” adding, “this wickedness must not be condoned. The culprits must be brought to justice in the interest of peace and stability in Kaduna State.
“I urge the security agencies to do everything possible to ensure that these boys don’t go scot-free, otherwise if this madness is not tamed, it may lead to something else.