By Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Non-Governmental organisation, Human Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked the Department of State Services under the leadership of Alhaji Lawal Musa Daura to halt the harassment of Christian leaders by its operatives.
In a statement, the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf condemned as “selective persecution and harassment”, the recent interrogation of National leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria over a global campaigns to attract funds to rebuild churches destroyed by Boko haram terrorists in North East.
The group said there was absolutely nothing untoward for Christian leaders to canvass for genuine funding support to carry out evangelism including the rebuilding of Churches destroyed by Islamic terror group of Boko haram particularly when Christianity was a Universal Religion just like the Islamic Religion.
The Rights group said the action of DSS amounted to profiling of Christian leaders only because of their religious status even as it dismissed the action as absolutely discriminatory and therefore unlawful and unconstitutional.
HURIWA said it was unbecoming of a statutory agency of the Nigerian government to assume the unconstitutional duty of profiling only one major religious group in a secular state over the genuine intentions of the leadership of the Christians to legitimately seek international funding assistance to rebuild places of worship destroyed by violent Islamic terror group of Boko Haram in the North East.
Expressing consternation that the Department of State Services (DSS) had never interrogated leaders of the Islamic religion who constantly collect funds from international Islamic bodies in Saudi Arabia amongst other places, wondered when it had become a crime for the Christian leaders to scout for genuine funds to implement credible religious obligations of building befitting places of worship.
HURIWA said the Constitution in Chapter four explicitly made freedom of religion guaranteed and “section 10 of the Constitution emphatically says there is no state religion” just as it asked the DSS to face her primary duty of providing better security environment by going after armed terror groups and such other mass murderers like the armed Fulani herdsmen instead of constantly subjecting Innocent Christian religion leaders to needless interrogation.
The Rights group would rather want DSS to deploy intelligence gathering efforts to thwart the massive inflow of small arms and sophisticated weapons by a range of freelance armed hoodlums wreaking havoc all across Nigeria.
“Why is the DSS going after Christian leaders for canvassing international assistance to rebuild churches when groups in the opposite Islamic religion are known to have received billions of foreign denominated currencies from abroad to build up their places of worship?, they queried.
Among those that were interrogated by the DSS were a former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (retd.), representing TEKAN/ECWA bloc of CAN; a retired High Court Judge, Justice Kalajine Anigbogu, representing the Christian Council of Nigeria bloc; Mrs. Osaretin Demuren, representing the Organisation of African Instituted Churches and a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Tunde Lemo, representing the Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria.
HURIWA said it had information that the Christian leaders were quizzed for four hours, on Tuesday evening, at the DSS headquarters in Abuja, over a video by CAN Trust Fund soliciting funds for CAN to rebuild churches destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East.