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By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – To entrench lasting peace in Southern Kaduna, (SK), victims of the ethno-religious crises have said true reconciliation can be achieved only when there is genuine forgiveness.
Two victims of the SK crises, who in their separate remarks during the monthly Peace Journalism meeting on Tuesday organized by Interfaith Mediation Centre, (IMC), Kaduna and supported by Mercy Corps, shared their bitter experiences.
The Victims, Mrs. Catherine Bernard and Hajiya Murwanatu Abubakar, who both lost their husbands, daughter, homes and property among others shared their grieves and urged other victims to forgive those that killed their loved ones for peace to reign.
Apart from propagating the act of forgiveness, the duo are also spreading the gospel of forgiveness as panacea for true reconciliation and importance of living together without any intimidation to promote Christian-Muslim relationships in the country.
Narrating her experience, Mrs Catherine Bernard, Christian, stated how she lost her husband, daughter and her house to a group of defiant youth who attacked them in Kasuwar Magani.
While she explained in details how the killers came to her home and killed her husband who was ill and her daughter the same day, Catherine said she has chosen to forgive the killers.
“Forgiveness has kept me going after that great loss to religious crisis,” she said in a sad tone.
Catherine who noted that without geniune forgiveness the wound festered and this is what normally causes reprisal attacks on those the victims believed inflicted sorrows on them.
“I chose to spread this gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation to all victims of SK crises to bury their hatchets and let forgiveness reign,” Catherine added.
Another victim, Hajiya Murwanatu Abubakar, a Muslim and also a resident of the popular volatile Kasuwar Magani, shared her experience with an appeal for all affected to find a space in their hearts to forget the past and forgive perpetrators of these crises.
Haj. Abubakar told newsmen that some groups of well equipped youth from nowhere came into their home, burnt the house and killed her husband.
According to her, the young people killed her husband in a gruesome manner that stuck to her memory, until she forgave them, then did peace returned to her.
She said the crises in SK has caused serious setbacks and this has affected peace, stability, education, economy infractions and increased security challenges.
She said Kasuwan Magani was hitherto a known peaceful community as Christians and Muslims lived together irrespective of their religious differences for years without any form of threats whatsoever.
Murwanatu however said, she has forgiven perpetrators of that hidneous crime against her.
The two bereaved women after their losses now occupied a rented house, with great challenges one of which is lack of food and skills to take care of the remaining orphans.
As they continued to spread the gospel of peace and forgiveness, they equally appealed to the State/Federal Governments, corporate organizations and wealthy individuals for moral and financial supports to enable them become self-reliant.
Also speaking, PRO National Emergency Managt. Agency, (NEMA), NorthWest and Assistant Chief Information Officer, Hajiya Halima Sulaiman, who empathized with the victims for their losses, described them as women with hearts of gold, as they preach the message of forgiveness.
In her presentation titled: “Role of NEMA in supporting communities affected by violent conflicts (Pre-During and Post)” Sulaiman said part of the strategies of NEMA includes; early warning systems, advocacy, public enlightenment campaign, stakeholders meetings, awareness creation, simulations, among others.
She said that the media plays a unique role in emergency management, as much can be done to communicate to the public the information that will help many save their own lives.
Corroborating the call for support for the widows, Co-founder of IMC, Dr. Muhammad Ashafa, said the widows testimonies called for award on them.
Ashafa said seldom do victims rise from great losses like the widows still find it in their hearts to forgive those who inflicted pains on them, then go about preaching Forgiveness for peace to reign in their area.