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CAN to Buhari: No harm should befall Kukah

…says no incitement to violence against Islam in homily

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, warned that no harm must come upon the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Most Rev Matthew Hassan Kukah, over his Christmas Day homily that unsettled the central government and some Islamic groups in the country.

CAN, the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies to ensure Kukah’s safety and security, while calling on those threatening him to stop their unlawful actions. General Secretary of CAN, Joseph Daramola, who made the position of the body known to newsmen in Abuja, said a careful study of the now “controversial” homily, has shown that there was no form of incitement whatsoever against Islam or non-Christians.

Daramola expressed misgivings at the series of harassments and threats being made against Kukah in recent weeks over his sermon and the apparent silence of government and its security agencies.

“We call on President Buhari and all the security agencies to ensure that no harm befall the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Kukah. As far as 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,” he said.

In a statement issued on behalf of CAN, Daramola argued that freedom of speech was a constitutional right of every citizen and no citizen, including Kukah, must be victimised for expressing an opinion on the state of the nation. “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 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 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 was the lawful fundamental of human rights suspended in the country? When were some sections of the constitution suspended without the awareness of the public? When did the Police and the Directorate of State Services lose their power to miscreants and lawless people who are boasting 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 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,” the statement read in parts. Apparently alluding to the romance between the Presidency and another Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, CAN said that the Catholic Church had restrained itself from sanctioning Mbaka despite his utterances in favour of the current administration because freedom of speech is not only a constitutional matter, but godly.

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