Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and George Okoh in Makurdi
The attacks on the Bishop of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Dr. Mathew Hassan Kukah, over his Christmas Day message have continued unabated, with a member of the House of Representatives representing Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency of Kogi State, Hon. Teejay Yusuf, saying the needless attacks from the federal government and its “bands of sycophants” from the North and other parts of the country reflect untold hypocrisy and double standards.
Also, two groups have declared their support for the cleric.
Kukah had in his Christmas message on the state of the nation lamented the endless woes which have befallen the country.
Yusuf in a statement issued yesterday noted that those who prefer to fawn sycophancy to the hard truths from Bishop Kukah are very poor students of history, who are indirectly sabotaging President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigeria’s democracy.
He stated: “Bishop Kukah’s decision to speak truth to power was applauded during the President Goodluck Jonathan government, but it’s now being mischievously misinterpreted as a call for insurrection.
“It is even more interesting when the minister with the least level of credibility in the federal cabinet speaks against the expression of such truthful criticism about grave national issues at Christmas.”
The lawmaker said it was reported in the media that four different attacks were carried out by bandits in Safana and Sabuwa Local Government Areas of Katsina State, whereby a newly-wedded couple and more than eight persons were abducted with several villagers nursing gunshot wounds.
Yusuf stated categorically that criticism is an essential part of democracy.
The federal lawmaker insisted that Kukah’s critics easily missed the point without realising that genuine lovers of truth and justice would rise to support Kukah against those making futile efforts to discredit his truthful message.
“Bishop Kukah spoke against the current prevalent nepotism as well as the fearsome indicators of a failed state when he raised issues of ‘endless bloodletting, a collapsing economy, social anomaly, domestic and community violence, kidnappings, and armed robberies,” he said.
Also, two groups, the Nigerian Muslim Professionals and Concerned Tiv Ancestry and Elite (CTAE), a group of eminent Tiv sons, have declared their support for the Catholic cleric, warning against any plan to arrest him.
The first line of support came from the coalition of Nigerian Muslim Professionals, which condemned attacks on Kukah for castigating President Muhammadu Buhari over what he described as acts of crass nepotism.
The Muslim professionals also warned that unless country’s leaders sit up, the country would be heading towards a failed state, specifically warning against any attempt to twist the Bishop’s message to mean that he endorsed coup.
The group stressed that contrary to those promoting such insinuations, the revered cleric was too learned to support such ignoble path to install leadership in the country.
The Muslim group pointedly said Nigerians with conscience would not fall for the antics of those twisting the Bishop’s message for selfish reasons, adding that having followed Bishop Kukah’s activities and preaching since the days of the military, it is convinced that not too many Nigerians took the interest of the country at heart like Kukah.
The group, while commending Kukah for what it described as “his boldness to speak truth to power,” questioned the propriety of those attacking him over the Christmas Day message.
In a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Prof. Mohammed Inuwa, it noted that while President Buhari might mean well for the country, it however, faulted some actions taken by his administration, which it observed are not in any way promoting the unity of the county.
Inuwa said: “It is completely wrong for some sponsored faceless group being promoted by selfish people in leadership position to silence the truth by attacking Bishop Kukah, who he noted did not in any way called for coup, saying the bishop is too learned to go that way.
“We stand completely with Bishop Kukah. This government must be fair to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion.
“We strongly condemn the wrong approach taken to respond to a message by a patriotic Nigerian by these incompetent people working to derail the president’s agenda”.
The coalition said the country would be a great place to live in if there were up to three persons like the Catholic bishop, adding those who were hiding from the truth were doing so for their personal interests.
The group, therefore, tasked President Buhari to see the bishop’s message as a wake-up call with a view to adjusting his policies and programmes for the betterment of Nigeria and Nigerians.
On its part, CTAE said Kukah told the truth to the federal government.
CTAE in a statement by its Convener, Gideon Inyom, said, “Our people are slaughtered in cold blood, sacked from our ancestral homes and perpetuated in poverty and homelessness; yet TYC band holds the firm opinion that security has been improved and that the Episcopal call of His Lordship Kukah was faulty.
“We stand and identify with the sermon of Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, for being the voice of reason and commend his courage to stand strong and bold to say such truth to authority at a time when it is very unfashionable to do so.
“We are proud to say that we adopt this homily as a true and objective admonishment to the President and megaphone the contents of this message to be a creed that will cause a change to this menace that has engulfed this nation heading to its doom.”