Christians worship amidst tight security in the North •As churches record low turnout
SECURITY was on red alert on Sunday in Kaduna as the state government relaxed the curfew between 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. to enable Christians to attend church services across the state.
Soldiers and armed policemen were stationed near churches to scare away trouble makers while helicopters on surveillance hovered in the sky as the worshippers were in churches.
However, there was no report of any crisis in the state during church services, even as many were seen rushing back home to beat the 1.00 p.m. deadline.
The Kaduna State governor, Mr Ibrahim Yakowa, had earlier admonished the Christians to maintain peace and orderliness similar to what their Muslim counterparts did on Friday.
Yakowa held a meeting with all members of the National Assembly from Kaduna State and appealed to them to contribute to the search for sustainable peace in Kaduna.
The state House of Assembly members were also in attendance, including commissioners. The governor asked them to ensure that a repeat of the current crisis was never witnessed again and urged them to go back to their respective constituencies and work with their people in the quest for peace.
The governor told them that government would continue to vigorously pursue the issue of job creation and skills acquisition programmes to ensure that the youth were fully engaged.
The issue of securing major entry roads into Kaduna was also discussed. Senator Ahmed Makarfi spoke on behalf of the senators while Honourable Garba Datti CPC, (Sabon Gari) spoke for the House members.
The speaker, Kaduna State House of Assembly spoke for members of the state assembly.
Later, the governor moved to the women’s multi-purpose hall where he met with leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Muslims’JNI from all the 23 local government areas in the state. They were urged to preach peace to their adherents and continue with the task of praying for the state and calming down their members.
At the Government House, the governor met with all the 23 interim local government chairmen and urged them to ensure the sustenance of total peace in their domains. He also asked them to work closely with both religious and traditional leaders in their domains.
He also met with members of the Kaduna State House of Assembly and told them that they will partner more strongly to ensure that the state witnesses more peace.
The issue of engaging youths was discussed and the need for prompt prosecution of offenders to serve as a deterrent to others.
He urged them to put political differences aside and work for the restoration of peace in Kaduna State.
Meanwhile, churches in different parts of Plateau State, especially in Jos, the state capital recorded low turnouts of worshipers on Sunday as most people stayed indoors as a result of the threat by the dreaded Boko Haram sect to unleash mayhem on worshipers.
Prior to Sunday, rumour had been doing the rounds with text messages flying around that the Boko Haram sect planned to make the weekend miserable for the people of Jos and its environs, hence the heavy security build-up in and around Jos.
Nigerian Tribune findings revealed that the poor turnout was also attributed to the insinuation that the state government and the security agencies ordered the citizens of the state to stay at home as part of the security measures to arrest the situation.
Speaking with newsmen while going round churches within the state capital on Sunday, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Dipo Emmanuel Ayeni, charged residents of the state to always be security conscious and vigilant.
The police boss implored church authorities to put more security checks in place and impress it on their members to avoid clustering around the church premises after service.
Plateau State Commissioner for Information, who was on the entourage of the Commissioner of Police, Pastor Yiljab Abraham, said state government was doing everything possible to ensure the safety of worshippers in the state, adding that the government was working on a bill on how to secure worship centres.