• Insists Nigeria remains a secular state
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has kicked against the membership of Nigeria in the General Assembly of the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM), contending that it is a violation of the 1999 Constitution.
CAN, in a statement signed and issued by Pastor Bayo Oladeji, the Media Assistant to the CAN President, Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, said Nigeria’s membership of the IILM without the backing of the country’s law should be withdrawn with immediate effect.
There have been reports that the IILM recently appointed the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, as its chairman during its 17th governing board meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.
IILM is an international institution established by central banks’ monetary authorities and multilateral organisations to create and issue short-term Sharia-compliant financial instruments to facilitate effective cross-border Islamic liquidity management.
“By creating more liquid Sharia-compliant financial markets for institutions offering Islamic financial services (IIFS), the IILM aims to enhance cross-border investment flows, international linkages and financial stability,” the corporation discloses on its website.
The leadership of CAN, however, wondered when Nigeria became a member of this Islamic body, stressing that the government’s action was a violation of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria especially Section 10.
Section 10 states that “the Government of the Federation or a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion.”
According to CAN, the action by the government of Nigeria on accepting to head IILM amounted to denouncing Nigeria as secular, insisting that Nigeria therefore cannot join any organisation that has a religious connotation.
Against this background, CAN said Nigerians should focus on some pertinent questions with intent to make the government offer right answers. The questions are as follow: “What is Nigeria doing in Islamic and Sharia-compliant organisation?
“Who authorised the governor of the (CBN) to join this organisation?
“What provision of our constitution supports our membership of a religious association as a secular state?
“If the argument is that we are a multi-religious state, does having many religions in a state define that state as multi-religious state? Will that not contradict section 10 of the 1999 constitution at the same time?
“When did the National Assembly pass the law to do away with our secular status?
“When did our constitution change to allow this alliance that seems to portray Nigeria as Islamic? Is the National Assembly aware of all the treaties regarding these Islamic organisations to which Nigeria is now a member?”
CAN statement stated: “We also recalled how President Muhammadu Buhari not only smuggled Nigeria into the “34-state Islamic military alliance against terrorism” but he and his government poured invectives and venoms on those who spoke against his unconstitutional action.
“Do we need to repeat our concern that almost all the heads of security and paramilitary agencies in Nigeria today are Muslims, as if Christians have become second class citizens or rather lack competent officers? Has Nigeria become an Islamic state?
“We also recall the controversy surrounding the funding of Jaiz bank, an Islamic institution, with the public money by the immediate past CBN governor with impunity.
“Recently, when the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, overhauled the heads of the 17 parastatals and agencies under his watch, 13 out of 17 of them were and are Muslims. Is this government saying it is only Muslims that can be trusted?
“A government that is interested in the unity and peace of the country should not be taking actions such as the lopsided appointments at the expense of one religion with impunity.
“We have noted with dismay that this government is not a listening government and this is dangerous for the future wellbeing of our nation. Is it democracy we are practicing or a rigid dictatorship?
*Equally, we are surprised by the argument being canvassed in some quarters that Nigeria is not a secular but a multi-religious nation. Assuming, but not conceding that Nigeria is a multi-religious state, should the government policies be pro one of the religions at the expense of the others?
*Many of our Christian brothers and sisters are being killed like rams in hundreds by the Fulani herdsmen while our security agencies look elsewhere all because none of their heads is a Christian.
*This is not the Nigeria dreamt of by our founding fathers, and it is high time the government woke up to its constitutional responsibilities.
*Christians have equal rights with our Muslim counterparts since the 1999 Constitution recognises the multiplicity of religions, and we will no longer pretend as if all is well with Nigeria.”