The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has officially reacted to the eviction threat against Bishop Mathew Kukah of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese by a Muslim group in Sokoto State.
CAN, in a statement sent Edujandon.com on Thursday, issued a stern warning to the Muslim community in the country that no harm must befall Bishop Kukah as a result of the threat against him by the Muslim Solidarity Forum.
The forum’s acting chairman, Prof. Isa Muhammad Maishanu, had asked Bishop Kukah to tender an unreserved apology to Muslims in the country for allegedly making inciteful remarks against Islam, failure of which he said would result in the cleric’s ejection from the state.
But CAN, in the statement signed by its general secretary, Barrister Joseph Bade Daramola, said it had carefully perused Bishop Kukah’s Christmas Day homily where accused President Muhammadu Buhari of promoting northern hegemony and could not find anywhere the cleric made inciteful comments against Islam.
Edujandon.com reported earlier that Kukah had accused Buhari of “deliberately” sacrificing “the dreams of those who voted for him for what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second-class status,” adding that, “Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim president could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it.”
But the Muslim group described Kukah’s comment as “malicious” and threatened to send him away from Sokoto unless he apologized.
CAN, however, said if Kukah’s criticism of Buhari amounts to an attack on Islam, those who criticized former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan would be seen to have also attacked Christianity.
The Christian body described the group’s action as “unlawful”, while also accusing security agencies in the country of pretending not to be aware of their threat.
“We have been watching the unfolding scenario since Bishop Kukah spoke his mind on the State of the Nation in his Christmas homily and how some groups of people have been threatening him with ﬁre and brimstone while all relevant security agencies are pretending as if nothing unusual is happening. We wonder if those threatening the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto are above the law or if they are sacred cows in the country.
“We have studied the whole Christmas message of Dr Kukah and we are yet to see any incitement against Islam or non- Christians. We see nothing wrong in his message to the nation that has been under the siege of terrorists, herdsmen killers, bandits and kidnappers as if there was no government in place. We see nothing wrong in telling a government whose lopsided appointments are against Christians the whole truth. If criticism against a Muslim President today, is an incitement to violence against Islam, it then means those who were criticising the duo of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan when they were in power were actually attacking Christianity.
“When has it become an offence to speak the truth to power? When has it become a crime to criticise a government in the country? When did the lawful fundamental of human rights suspend in the country? When did some sections of the Constitution suspended without the awareness of the public? When did the Police and the Directorate of the State Security Services lose their power to miscreants and lawless people who are making boast of their lawlessness without a challenge? We wonder if those Muslim groups who are threatening to deal with Kukah got equal response from their Christian counterparts, are we not setting up the country on ﬁre?
“Bishop Kukah was posted to serve in Sokoto by the Papacy and threatening him to leave is a global threat to Christianity. In this same country, we have a Catholic Bishop whose name is synonymous with President Muhammadu Buhari yet the Catholic Church has not deemed it ﬁt to sanction him because Freedom of Speech and Association is not only a constitutional matter but godly.”
CAN further called on President Buhari and security agencies in the country to ensure that, “no harm befall the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah.”
It said, “As far as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is concerned, what he said in his Christmas Homily was still within the ambience of the law. It is high time those hiding under religious sentiments to promote violence and crises stopped doing so if we want this country to progress. We have had enough of bloodshed in the country and we call on the security agencies to rise up to their constitutional responsibilities. Nothing must happen to Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.”
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