By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
A peace summit organized in Kafanchan to find an end to the conflict in Southern Kaduna, suffered set back as Christian leaders in the area who doubted the genuineness of the occasion, boycotted the summit.
Nevertheless, the peace summit still went on as scheduled with over 100 participants across religious faiths.
The Kaduna chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Christian leaders from the Southern part of Kaduna and the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union,were earlier scheduled to attend the peace summit in Kafanchan, Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Tuesday.
Friends of Southern Kaduna in collaboration with the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission organized the summit as part of efforts to find a lasting solution to the killings in Southern Kaduna.
Explaining why they did not attend the summit,Southern Kaduna Christian Leaders Association, said they boycotted because some “key stakeholders” were left out.
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union also asked that the summit be rescheduled to a later date.
CAN in Kaduna state said they were not part of the planning. Chairman, Southern Kaduna Christian Leaders Association, Bishop Simon Peters Mutum, said that the key stakeholders who had bore the brunt of the genocide over the years, l got to know of the peace summit few hours to the commencement.
He said all the arrangements had been completed without the involvement of some of the key stakeholders of Southern Kaduna that have been suffering from the killings.
“The group will welcome an explanation as to why the organizers of the summit decided to sideline SOKAPU and the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the planning of the summit,” he said.
“We are, therefore, deeply concerned about who the ‘Friends of Southern Kaduna’ are and what may be their real motives!
“We are also troubled that a Peace Summit can be organized for a people without involving the key leaders of the people to be discussed with/ about!
“So, in as much as we would love to be part of a Peace Summit, we want to know who the organizers are and what they really want to achieve by this Summit going by the way they planned it!
“We would also want an explanation as to why the leadership of SOKAPU, CAN and SKCLA were sidelined in the planning of the Summit
“We would have wished that the Peace Summit be rescheduled until all our questions are properly answered and every key player (the youths, CDAs, traditional institution, regional groups of interest & religious groups) are contacted, organised and carried along! and that is our prayer,” he stated.
SOKAPU in a letter dated 6th September, 2020 and addressed to the Chairman, Local Organizing Committee of the Peace Summit, Pastor James Novel Wuye, said they wished to have had a consultation with the conveners before the summit.
The letter which was signed by Secretary of SOKAPU, Stephen Mallan,en titled, ‘Re: Invitation to participate in Peace Summit for the de-escalation of conflict in Southern Kaduna, stated that “the Central Executive Committee of SOKAPU met and exhaustively discussed on the Peace Summit, and hereby resolved as follows;
“SOKAPU appreciates this laudable initiative for a peace summit especially at this crucial period when peace has eluded most of our communities.
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“That SOKAPU has accepted the invitation and is willing to participate in the Peace Summit.
“However, this invitation came when we were yet to conclude our consultations with key stakeholders in Southern Kaduna.
“Furthermore, SOKAPU had wished to have prior consultations with the conveners before the summit.
“In this regard, we are kindly requesting that the summit be rescheduled to a later date to enable us conclude all consultations. Otherwise, the summit may proceed and we shall be glad to be communicated with the outcome.”
On their part, the CAN noted that they won’t take part in the summit because it lack transparency.
A letter by the CAN’s Secretary in the state, Rev. Sunday Ibrahim, and addressed to the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Pastor James Wuye, insisted that the Christian body won’t guarantee the genuinness of the peace summit.
According to the letter, CAN will not support conflict entrepreneurs to use the horrible situation in Kaduna State to their advantage.
The letter read, “At about 5:00 pm on the 1st of September 2020, we received your letter dated 28th August 2020 with the reference number PSC VOL 1/28/20 under the above referred title.
“The letter invites us to participate in a peace summit “to dialogue with relevant stakeholders in Southern Kaduna…”organized by “Friends of Southern Kaduna” in collaboration with the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC).
“Attached to the letter is the Agenda of the Summit in which our Chairman, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, is proposed to say the opening prayer at the said summit.
“While we thank you for the invitation, we find the organisation of the proposed summit as inappropriate even as CAN Kaduna State has been involved and is still involved in working for long-lasting peace in southern Kaduna and Kaduna State as a whole in partnership with genuine, purpose-driven, and sincere stakeholders in peace building and are open to such partnership always.
“However CAN will not support conflict entrepreneurs to use the horrible situation in Kaduna State to their advantage. The Southern Kaduna security challenges need a holistic and genuine approach and not a whitewash, playing to the gallery approach.
“Accordingly, since CAN was not involved in the organisation of the summit but only an invitee, CAN cannot guarantee the genuineness of those planning it.
“Without a doubt, CAN and UNI remain the most recognized authorities representing Christians and Muslims, respectively, hence, are legitimate authorities to partner with for a peace process as the one we year for and other matters relating to religion in Nigeria as a whole.
“CAN having established that the organisers of the proposed summit did not contact CAN ahead of the planned summit, enlisting CAN Chairman, Kaduna State, in the agenda is aimed at merely using CAN adding credibility to the ambiguous peace process.
“To this end, CAN Kaduna State disassociates itself from this summit in its entirety given the lack of transparency in the planning of the summit. If the organisers recognize the need for CAN’s participation, the proper steps should have been taken.”