GovernorEmmanuel Uduaghan yesterday passionately appealed to Christian leaders in thestate not be provoked into instigating their followers to carry out retaliatoryattacks on Muslims in the state.
Dr.Uduaghan at a meeting with the state chapter of the Christian Association ofNigeria (CAN) in Asaba, urged the Christian leaders to propagate the message ofpeaceful co-existence to their respective congregations.
The meeting, according to the governor, was to intimate the Christian clerics withrecent challenges in the state especially in the area of security and the state’seconomy.
He lamented that the state hadrecently witnessed an upsurge in criminal activities including kidnapping andarmed robbery, adding that “beyond that, we had the threat of bombing whichcaused a lot of tension here. There was fear of reprisal attacks due to theactivities of Boko Haram and we actually had two of such incidents in Sapelewhich, according to investigations, were more of an intra-religious issue.”
The governor thanked the leaders for their various ways in dousing inter-religious tensions in the state andurged them to plead with their followers not to be provoked into taking thelaws into their hands.
“We should appeal to ourcongregations not to take laws into their hands by reacting negatively to whatever happens in the north. Let us appeal to them not to condescend to thatlevel. Also the Federal Government is doing everything possible to tackle thisnew security challenge posed by Boko Haram but beyond that we should alsoencourage our followers to protect themselves against armed robbery, Boko Haramand kidnapping because we have noticed that most people are kidnapped whilegoing or coming from the church,” he stated.
Heinformed the religious leaders that the state government was strategizing to make improved security infrastructures and empower the security apparatuses toput them in position to fight crime.
The governor noted that communitypolicing would be re-invigorated with the registration of communityassociations through the local government councils while vigilante groups wouldbe strengthened to complement the efforts of other security outfits.
He however warned that vigilantegroups are not empowered by law to carry weapon but their functions amongothers it to help the police in fishing criminal elements from the community.
Uduaghan announced that a bill was in the works and when passed, “would empower hotel operators to get fulldetails of lodgers and give same to security agents because we have observedthat a lot of criminal plottings are done in hotel rooms especially those whocome from outside the state.”
Responding,the state chairman of CAN, Bishop God-Do-Well Avwomakpa thanked the governorfor recognising the church as a group of people and pledge that the church willcontinue to support the administration.