COVID-19

The Evangelical Church of Wining All (ECWA) yesterday faulted President Muhammadu Buhari administration spending public funds to de-radicalise and rehabilitate repentant members of Boko-Haram, a jihadist terrorist organisation based in northeastern Nigeria

ECWA, one of the largest Christian denominations in Nigeria, also said millions of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency “are still languishing in deplorable internal displaced persons (IDPs) camps,” describing the de-radicalisation project as a misplacement of priority.

The church faulted the de-radicalisation project in a communique it issued at the end of its 67th General Church Council meeting in Jos, Plateau State yesterday.

Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, Boko Haram started its insurgency operation in the Northeast in 2009 under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau initially against soft targets, but progressed in 2011 to the bombings of the Force Headquarters and the United Nations Office in Abuja.

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Since 2009, the campaign of violence by Boko Haram insurgents has cost at least 27,000 lives, displaced some two million people and spawned an affiliate of the Islamic State of West Africa Province, opposing the westernisation of Nigeria and seeking to establish an Islamic state.

In September 2019, Buhari claimed that his administration had substantially defeated and degraded the insurgents to the extent that the insurgents were attacking only soft targets. He urged the armed forces to protect innocent Nigerians, whom he said, were ‘soft targets’.

But the communiqué, which was signed by the Church President, Rev. Stephen Baba and General Secretary Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, said using taxpayers’ money to rehabilitate repentant Boko Haram was dangerous and unacceptable.

It lamented that the decision of the federal government to use taxpayers’ funds to pursue the de-radicalisation and rehabilitation of the repentant members of the terrorist organisation was unjustifiable, citing the huge havoc the insurgents had caused innocent people in the Northeast.

It noted that the decision of the federal government “is indeed a complete misplaced priority.”

The communique, also, considered the recruitment of repentant de-radicalised insurgents into the military and other security agencies as a dangerous trend.

It added that such policy “is capable of recycling and legitimising insurgency by infiltration of the security services from where insurgents could continue to wreak havoc on unsuspecting citizens.”

It, therefore, urged the military to channel such resources towards the welfare and proper equipping of Nigeria gallant soldiers in the frontlines of battle against the terrorists as a way of discouraging mass resignations and desertion by military personnel.

The communique added that part of the resources could be used to cater for the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency currently languishing in IDPs.

On covid-19, the communique expressed disappointment at some states of the federation, especially in the South-west that have kept places of worship closed against worshippers.

It added that it was ironic to open markets with larger crowds and keep places of worship closed.

It, therefore, urged the concerned state governments “to allow for immediate opening of worship places with the application of NCDC operational safety guidelines.”

It also, urged all citizens to obey the safety protocols for the prevention and curtailment of the spread of the pandemic by observing frequent washing of hands with soap under running water, cleaning of hands with alcohol based sanitizer.

The communique, also observed with concern the continued decay of the nation’s infrastructure, particularly roads and medical facilities, calling for urgent repairs, maintenance and upgrading of the facilities by the government.

It added that most of the sovereign wealth that was “wasted in the non-transparent so-called distribution of palliatives should have been used for upgrading the health care system and in support of schools to make them compliant with safety guidelines for reopening.”

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