by Rev. Stephen Panya Baba, ECWA President and Rev. Yunusa Sabo Nmadu Jnr., ECWA General Secretary | ECWA calls on the Nigerian Federal Government to apprehend and arrest the perpetrators to face the full wrath of the law, and compensate the victims in the interest of justice as failing to do these may jeopardize government’s effort in boosting food production and guaranteeing food security in Nigeria.
Behold! I am doing a new thing, Isaiah 43:19 is the 2019 Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) theme chosen during the 66th General Church Council (GCC) meeting in Jos, Nigeria from April 8 – 12 2019. The theme reflects the assurances of God’s word of hope to believers all over the world at these difficult times.
The Council meeting had in attendance the ECWA Executive members, members of ECWA Board of Trustees, Chairmen, Secretaries and Delegates of all the 84 District Church Councils (DCCs), Directors of the various ECWA Departments and Chief Executive Officers of ECWA Strategic Business units. The Council deliberated on many key issues affecting the Church, the Nigerian State and the global community and resolved thus:
Insecurity and Wave Of Criminality
- The Council views with serious concern the unabated attacks of armed herdsmen across the country, especially in the Middle-belt and Northern States of Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Katsina, Zamfara, Taraba and Adamawa as they continue to destroy lives, farms and properties of innocent members of their host communities. ECWA calls on the Federal Government to apprehend and arrest the perpetrators to face the full wrath of the law, and compensate the victims in the interest of justice as failing to do these may jeopardize government’s effort in boosting food production and guaranteeing food security in Nigeria.
ECWA particularly notes the continued attacks by these herdsmen on the Adara Christian communities in Kajuru Local Government of Kaduna State and the glaring injustice being perpetrated by the State and Federal Government in ignoring thousands of the internally displaced Adara people and the continuous imprisonment of their traditional and community leaders for months without any charge contrary to the law of the land and therefore demands that the Adara leaders be released immediately.
- The GCC is alarmed at the spate of killings for ritual purposes, frequent mass murder of harmless, innocent and defenseless citizens. Very often our young people, the very symbols of life and vigour, are the victims and agents of this wastage of human life. In recognition of its divine mandate, the Council reminds all of the sacredness and inviolability of human life, stating that no person, authority or institution has the right to terminate human life and urge everyone to respect the sanctity of human life and end the flow of innocent blood in the land. It advocates for a stronger collaboration between the government, the security agencies, and the entire population, for a more efficient protection of human lives and property.
- The Council notes with dismay the continuous spate of banditry in Northern Nigeria, kidnappings across the country, and the apparent helplessness of the Nigerian security agencies to rescue the victims at such, resulting in huge sums of money being paid as ransom to the kidnappers, thereby further exacerbating the poor financial conditions of the victims and their family members. ECWA therefore calls on the Federal Government and all security outfits to take urgent and definite steps to tackle this heinous crime in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), guaranteeing the security of lives and property of all citizens.
- The Council also warned that failure on the part of Government to protect the people and serve justice will spur the people to self-defense which may eventually lead to anarchy.
- Council frowns at the deplorable conditions of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the country and appealed the Federal Government to improve their welfare and ensure adequate security to enable them return to their ancestral homes.
- Furthermore, the Council frowns at the failure of the Federal Government to secure the release of the only Christian girl Leah Sharibu who is an ECWA member that was abducted by Boko Haram amongst many female students of Government Secondary School, Dapchi in their hostel and were all later released after negotiation by the Federal Government except Leah because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. The Council is worried that despite several promises by the Government, Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha, a Christian nurse doing humanitarian service and other Chibok girls earlier abducted have not been released. ECWA is again using this medium to call on the Federal Government to apply the same negotiation mechanism used to free the other girls to ensure the immediate release of Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha and the other remaining Chibok girls to their parents.
While recalling the controversy surrounding the suspicious withdrawal of military troops guarding Dapchi town few day before the girls were abducted, ECWA called on the military and other security agencies to weed themselves of fifth columnist in their fold in order to make the system truly efficient to perform their constitutional responsibility of protecting the lives and property of citizens.
- The Council particularly applauded Leah Sharibu for her dogged faith in identifying with Jesus Christ at the risk of her life and affirmed that the good Lord whom she has honored is able to keep her safe from harm and grant her freedom in due time. The Council equally praised Leah’s parents for instilling in their child the love of God and encouraged them not to despair in trusting God for her miraculous deliverance from the hands of the terrorists.
Social Justice and Equity
- ECWA observed with grave concern the levity with which the Government and her agencies treat the abduction of young girls in the Northern Region of the country where they are forced into early marriages. The Church believes that this is an infringement of the fundamental human rights of the young girls and a criminal offence. We therefore demand proper investigation and prosecution of the offenders no matter their position in the society.
- In the fight against corruption in the country, Council noted that the Church is the only hope if the fight is to succeed because of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to regenerate and transform lives.
- The GCC congratulates Nigerians and all those who emerged victorious in the recently concluded general elections and urged them to lead in the fear of God. It however, observed that the elections were shrouded in myriads of irregularities, violence and subversion of the peoples will. It therefore called on those who feel aggrieved to peacefully seek redress through the Election Tribunals and trust God’s will to be done in their desire to lead the people. On the other hand, the Council advised judicial officers presiding over the election tribunals to ensure justice to all as they would someday also be judged by the Ultimate Judge of the universe for their deeds.
- ECWA commends the efforts of the Military in tackling insurgency in Nigeria but observed the subtle militarization of the polity with the setting up of all sorts of military operations perceived by many Nigerians as targeted at silencing legitimate ventilation of grievances, and with the attendant breach of the fundamental rights of the citizenry due to the high-handedness of the Military.
Council also observed that often times, the security agencies only appear in the communities after the attackers have committed their atrocities and left. The Council therefore calls for increased intelligence gathering and take proactive steps to nip the attacks in the bud. Accordingly, the Council demands that the Federal Government take urgent and decisive steps to stem this disturbing trend.
Infrastructural Decay and Need For Entrepreneurship
- The Council further observed with dismay the continued decay of the Nation’s infrastructure particularly the roads and medical facilities. It therefore calls for urgent repairs, maintenance and upgrading of these facilities by the Government. It has become a night mare and a death trap travelling by road across the country. On the other hand, most of the nation’s hospitals have been turned into mere consulting centres with wrong diagnosis due to dilapidated equipment leading to thousands of unavoidable deaths on a daily basis. The Council is also saddened by the growing brain drain in the health sector due to the exodus of sound Nigerian medical doctors and other medical personnel to other countries for greener pastures due to the unimpressive situation of the nation’s hospitals.
- ECWA reiterates the need for entrepreneurship by the government, the Church, other religious bodies and the business community. The Council laments that many young people have no job and equally many public servants retire early and thereafter remain unproductive. These idle persons, especially the young ones, are easily available to be recruited for crime and other anti-social activities. There is therefore the need to promote entrepreneurship as a means of engaging many capable minds and hands in positive skills and so contribute collectively to nation building. In this regard, the Council continually encourage the faithful and indeed the entire citizenry to discover and exploit opportunities, and assemble resources in order to create value and wealth. This, no doubt, it noted would make it possible for the Church to build an economy that is truly at the service of humankind. Council equally urged the business community to invest not just for profit but also to offer some services to make positive impact on the society, especially the poor and vulnerable groups.
- Council expressed joy at the visit of the United States of America Ag. Ambassador to Nigeria Hon. David J. Young and commended the Ambassador for his peace building efforts across Nigeria.
- The GCC reiterated the Church resolve to continue to focus on its core values of revival, evangelism/missions and holistic ministry as means of reaching out to the spiritual and physical needs of humanity.
- As a pace setter in the provision of quality education in Nigeria, the Council assured of ECWA’s continuous determination to training qualified manpower with the fear of God.
- Council expressed delight and congratulate ECWA Leaders who were recently elected into various international and ecumenical organizations.
- The GCC received with great joy the progress made so far by ECWA Television in reaching about 103 nations of the world with the Gospel and prayed for its sustenance.
- The Audited financial statement of the Church for the year ended December 31st, 2018 as presented, indicated that the financial books of accounts were properly kept and maintained in accordance with international accounting standard.
- The new ECWA Constitution and Bye-Laws which took effect from April 1, 2019 was formally presented and dedicated for use by the Council.
- The GCC resolved to build historic monuments in strategic mission fields, especially in Patigi, Bida and Girku.
- The Council launched an Anthem for the Church titled “Oh! God be glorified”.
- The 66th General Church Council successfully elected a new member of the ECWA Board of Trustees in the person of Elder Moses Yusuf Dembo and approved the creation of an additional District Church Council (DCC) to be known as Yamel- East DCC. It also approved the change of name of Tsiga DCC to Katsina South DCC.