By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
The Northern Christian Elders Forum (NOCEF) at the weekend disowned the Arewa Pastors of Non-denominational Initiative for Peace in Nigeria whose controversial visit to the presidency has unsettled the Nigerian Christians, especially in the North.
NOCEF said they neither emanated from the conglomeration of 15 churches under the aegis of Tarayar Ekklisiyoyin Kristi A Nigeria (TEKAN) (meaning, Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri Christians) nor Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), the two blocs of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the North.
While warning President Muhammadu Buhari, â€œnever to spend tax payers money on them,â€ the Christian elders threw their weight behind CAN which described the visiting clerics as aliens to the body of Jesus Christ in Nigeria.
A statement issued in Jos by the Public Relations Officer of NOCEF and Secretary of CAN (North West Zone), Rev SundayOibe, said: â€œThose who betrayed Christiansâ€ during their political pilgrimage to President Buhari â€œshould be treated like Judas Iscariot.â€
According to him, the refusal of the so-called Arewa pastors to demand the release of a female student of Government Science Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, Leah Sharibu, from Boko Haram captivity was â€œa confirmation of the fact that they are not Christians.â€
He said: â€œOrdinarily, just coming out from the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Easter for our salvation, and still reflecting on the benefits of this sacrifice, we would not have bothered to respond to them. But for incessant calls from notable Christians across the country, it is necessary to put the records straight.
â€œThey should be treated like Judas Iscariot because their action is antithetical to the body of Christ. The summary of the action of these so-called Arewa pastors led by one John Richard Abu from Benue State, and the timing is a confirmation that the spirit of Judas Iscariot is still around and within us.
â€œFor Judas to agree to betray Jesus Christ before the Jewish authorities and for these unknown Arewa pastors to betray the Nigerian Christian community who have been crying for the release of Leah Sharibu has confirmed that Judas is alive among us. We also call on Christians to intensify their prayers for the immediate and unconditional release of Leah Sharibu, while we also urge the president to step up and end the killings in the country.â€
Oibe described them as Available-for-use Political Clerics (APC), whose conducts can best be described as unfortunate.
He said the calibre of those who visited Buhari have been known to be only relevant at the peak of political activities, adding: â€œWhat we are witnessing now is a rehearsal of what to come during the 2019 general election.â€
Oibe queried: â€œWhy are their voices lost over the continuous captivity of Sharibu, if truly they are men of God as they claimed? Why are their voices not being heard over the killings in Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa, Zamfara, Borno and Yobe States?
â€œWhile they were sycophantly singing praises to Buhari like the Biblical Judas Iscariot, dozens were being slaughtered in Benue, the home state of John Richard Abu, and as usual, their voices were lost.
â€œWe hereby state that these strange faces and political jobbers are unknown to us in the North as they spoke for their pockets. As such, Buhari should beware of these traitors! Their claim of Buhariâ€™s good intentions is simply sycophancy because Nigerians voted for an actionable leader and not a leader whose intention is only known to these hungry clerics.
â€œWe are telling the president and Nigerian politicians to be wary of these political jobbers dressed in cassock as their intentions are out for everybody to see. In particular, we warn the President Buhari never to spend tax payersâ€™ money on them.â€
He said:Â â€œWe are aware that Buhari knows that these people are looking for food. Our independent investigation also revealed that the leader of the pastors, Richard, is unknown in his home state of Benue, and at the appropriate time, we will expose all of them.â€