Britain backs Biafra, CAN over the incessant killing of Christian in Northern Nigeria, just as the President faults the support from the United Kingdom.
Newera News gathered that the British Government through one of its lawmaker, had, written a letter to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, dated September 14, and co-signed by Baroness Cox, Baroness Kennedy, Jim Shannon, Fiona Bruce, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams and 14 others, asking the Commonwealth to conduct an impartial investigation into the killings in Nigeria and bring the perpetrators to justice.
According to the letter, UK is in total support of the Biafra agitation, CAN, SOKAPU Over Killings of Christians In The North.
The parliamentarians expressed indignation over the killings by Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East and Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt region and said the failure of the Federal Government to protect Nigerians was a breach of the Commonwealth charter.
They, therefore, requested the Commonwealth to raise the killings with the Ministerial Action Group.
However, the Presidency on Thursday faulted the sources of information on which members of the House of Lords, the United Kingdom, based their recent letter on the killings in Nigeria.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this in a statement in Abuja titled, ‘British lawmakers, legal experts and campaigners should work with President Buhari, not fall for propaganda.’
But Shehu in his statement noted that not all those who provided the information that served as the basis of the letter were committed to democracy or the nation’s peaceful co-existence.
He said, “At the same time as we take note of the lawmakers’ letter, it is also important to stress to our partners and colleagues in the United Kingdom that not all who press them have the best interests of either democratic governance or peaceful coexistence in mind.
“For example, the former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff named and quoted in the letter as a source on military matters relinquished that position some 40 years ago – in 1979.
“He was last in a government position 17 years ago in 2003 (as Minister of Defence). At that time, religious and ethnic riots erupted in two states of the federation, (2001 and 2002). These were violently and ruthlessly put down by the military under his authority, leading to the loss of thousands of lives and the displacement of some further 50,000 persons.
“He is, therefore, not a natural source of pressure for good governance.”
The presidential aide continued, “Another, signatory to the letter, is well-known to be associated with the Indigenous People of Biafra, a Nigerian-blacklisted terrorist group.
President Buhari has blamed IPOB for the role they play saying, “The IPOB is running a well-known (source-of-financing-unknown) international campaign intended to damage the reputation of Nigeria and its government in order to further their cause of ‘independence.’ He jumped bail in Nigeria. He frequently travels on a Nigerian passport but urged his supporters to burn their passports!
“The IPOB barely mention their aims in their publicity; neither do they mention that their own leadership does not claim to be Christian. Yet, their media and lobbying campaign have focused near-exclusively on promoting matters related to Christianity in Nigeria, promulgating false claims that a government with 50 per cent of its cabinet and 50 per cent of its state governors who are Christian somehow works against Christians.
“We call on our British friends and colleagues to join us in addressing genuine solutions not pander to agents of anarchy.”
Shehu, however, said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the Federal Government welcomed the seriousness of the letter and the attention paid to it by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.
He expressed the government’s readiness to work with the lawmakers, the Commonwealth and all concerned parties to bring a lasting solution to herder-farmer clashes, and the threat posed to all Nigerians – and the Sahel region as a whole – from Boko Haram terrorists and their allies.
He added, “We ask our British colleagues to visit Nigeria, whether formally or informally to discuss all the points raised in their letter.
Buhari’s deputy is an evangelical pastor, Presidency tells British parliamentarians
“Our government is made equally of Christian and Muslim cabinet members. Our Vice President is an evangelical pastor. We have everything to gain as a country through international cooperation with concerned, senior British parliamentarians and policymakers.
“The threat to civilians and peaceful co-existence between different ethnic and religious groups from Boko Haram, banditry and land disputes is of serious concern to the President and the government. It is incorrect, however, to assert that the government has or is doing nothing to address these intertwined threats.”
He said there were ongoing efforts for the establishment of cattle ranches to prevent or curtail open grazing, the practice which he said brought herders and farmers into conflict.
He described the problem as an age-long one facing Nigerian governments since the colonial days.
Shehu also explained that matters of land distribution were dealt with at state level.
“This means willingness has to be shown by state governors to drive the process forward. The Federal Government launched a plan last year to work with states to address these issues – together. Unfortunately, this has been lacking in some states.
“When the government came to power, the terrorist group held and administered an area the size of Belgium. Now they hold none. The terrorists are hiding out amongst remote forests and across borders.
“This makes it difficult to extinguish the final flames of the insurgency, and the government has no illusions of the potent threat still posed. However, the progress made cannot be denied.
“Thirdly, in the face of rising crime and insecurity, the government’s new community policing initiative was launched this month. 10,000 new constables are being recruited from the areas they will safeguard – as opposed to past practice.
“The government hopes this will bring policing closer to local communities. N13bn has been earmarked for this initiative.”
UK’s lawmakers’ letter, a wake-up call on Buhari —Northern CAN
In his reaction, the Vice-Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, 19 northern states and Abuja, Rev Joseph Hayab, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the British lawmakers’ letter was a wake-up call on the Federal Government.
He said, “CAN, therefore, welcomes the move by UK lawmakers and hope it will be a wake-up call on our leaders to do what is expected of them constitutionally.”