Former Senator Shehu Sani, who represented Kaduna Central in the 8th Senate, has noted that amidst insecurity arising from banditry and terrorism over the years in Kaduna State, Catholic church family was the worst hit, losing several of priests to terrorists.
Shehu Sani is the President of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria (CRCN). He was a leading figure in the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria, reports Daily Sun.
Speaking yesterday shortly after he received an award of excellence voice of the masses by Catholic Men Organisation (CMO), Senator Sani said though other religious leaders suffered in the hands of the terrorists, that of the Catholic family was too damaging and unprovoked killings.
Earlier, while presenting the award on behalf of the Catholic Men Organisation (CMO), Kaduna Catholic Archdiocese, Chairman, 2023 Convention, Bature Joel Madaki along with the Secretary of the Convention, Gabriel Joseph said, “We present to you this award of excellence for being the voice of the masses. This is our own little way of supporting and encouraging you for all you have been doing for humanity. We thank you for accepting this award from this family”.
Responding, the former lawmaker said, “Catholic organisation in Kaduna has been as long as the history of Kaduna. The Catholic organisation has contributed tremendously to the socio-economic life of the people of Kaduna State. We grew up where we saw the hands of Catholic in education, in health, peace and harmonious coexistence in Kaduna State. The Catholic church in Kaduna is part and parcel of our life.
“Today we have institutions established by the Catholic church that have benefited everyone irrespective of his religion or ethnic identity. I can say that there is no indigene of Kaduna State that has not benefitted from the magnanimity of Catholic in the State.
“Unfortunately as I am receiving this award, I will also use this opportunity to say that over the years, religious leaders have suffered tremendously in the hands of bandits and terrorists in the State. We have seen Muslims leaders killed, we have also seen where Christian leaders are killed. But there is no one segment of religious groups that have suffered in terms of targeting church leaders by bandits like the Catholic church.
“We have seen the adoption of many of your Priests, and killings of many of your Priests. There are those of us who have never relented in condemning every aspect of this systemic attack on Catholic church. I can remember some years ago, how a terrorist rammed a vehicle into Catholic church in Malali and killed many worshippers and injured several others.
“I can also recall a number of Priests that I know personally that were killed by terrorists. But for me as one of the major stakeholders in Kaduna State, I can tell you that you still have a role to play by adding more to the efforts to cement the divide that exists between the Northern and Southern part of Kaduna State.
“The river Kaduna that divides the North and Southern part of Kaduna should be a source and a fountain for peace, unity and cordial relationship between the North and South of the state. Kaduna State is one of the top three States that have suffered in the hands of terrorists. There is no part of this State that is immune to terrorism attacks.
“And unfortunately the North West part of the country is a major theatre of war against terrorism. From Katsina to part of Sokoto, Zamfara and part of Kebbi State and Niger State where thousands of lives were rendered useless. Homes were burnt and terrorists are still operating.
“Catholic church should not be deterred, should not be discouraged, you are doing the work of God. In doing the spiritual work of God you are bound to face persecution, challenges and obstacles are part of prize you have to pay. Now Kaduna State needs unity, that unity can only be realised from the foundation of justice and equity.
“The last administration in Kaduna State from 2015 to 2023 exploited our religious sensitivity in the State and destroyed the bridge of unity and peaceful existence between Muslims in the North and Christians in the southern part of Kaduna State. Now that that administration is gone it is time for us to find a common ground for our unity and coexistence for the prosperity of our children.
“I also want to use this opportunity to call the people never to succumb to terror attack, never to wave at terror attack. I am not a typical politician that will only speak against injustice during elections. I will continue to speak against the marginalisation and killings in Southern Kaduna.
“However, my advice to the people of Kaduna is that they should not allow religion and ethnic differences to divide them as it was the case in the last administration in the State. We should revive that era when Christians and Muslims live together peacefully.
“I feel highly honoured to receive such a prestigious award for appreciating our own modest contribution to humanity. When an award is given, it is an encouragement, it is a booster and energiser for the recipient in appreciation for what he or she has done. I also believe that an award is a path to the future. It is not simply about what you have done in the past. It propels one to do more. Thank you very much and I appreciate this award”.