Kukah: Ortom Asks FG Not to Muzzle Nigerians

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PFN backs cleric, says he didn’t call for coup

George Okoh in Makurdi and Adibe Emenyonu Benin City

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has urged the federal government not to muzzle patriotic Nigerians who raise genuine concerns over the worsening security situation in the country.

This is as the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) called on those attacking the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah over his comments on the state of the nation to desist from it, saying he should not be used as a sacrificial lamb.

The governor’s response came five days after Bishop Mathew Kukah said President Muhammadu Buhari’s government owes Nigerians an explanation over the killings of innocent people in the country.

In his Christmas message titled, ‘A Nation in Search of Vindication,’ Bishop Kukah said Nigeria appeared to be heading for darkness under the current administration.

In a statement issued yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, the governor described as unfair and repressive the federal government’s reaction to Kukah’s message on insecurity.

Reacting to the government’s accusation that the cleric was stirring hatred against President Buhari and calling for a coup, Ortom asked the federal government to “address the worrisome security situation and other problems confronting the country.”

According to the governor, “Bishop Kukah is a selfless Nigerian who only seeks to unite the nation and speaks his mind frankly on national issues calling on the government to serve the people.”

“The renowned Bishop is not the first to call on the leadership of the country to strengthen security agencies and be proactive in combating the wave of violence and killings in parts of the country.

“Many other Nigerians have been making the same call on a daily basis. He was not the first to suggest that the President should be the father of all and not of only a section of the country or a particular ethnic group.”

The governor advised that instead of politicising the views of Bishop Kukah and castigating him, the fFederal government should take a second look at the things he raised in the Christmas Day message to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Ortom noted that Nigeria is practicing democracy which guarantees the freedom of speech to all citizens and not a military regime that suppresses the right of the people to voice their opinions on challenges facing their country.

“The Bishop’s statement is a true reflection of the current situation in Nigeria and urges President Muhammadu Buhari not to listen to sycophants who may tell him that everything is well with the country. All is not well,” he added.

On its part, the President of PFN, Rev. Felix Omobude, while speaking on issues relating to the current states of the Nigeria nation called on the federal government not to make Kukah a sacrificial lamb.

Omobude who is also the General Overseer, New Covenant Gospel Church, Benin, said Bishop Kukah spoke truth to power and the minds of most Nigerians that many things are going wrong under the present administration.

Omobude said rather than vilifying the bishop, he should be commended for voicing out when others seemed to have kept quiet when in actual fact, things are getting out of control.

“Well, I appreciate Bishop Kukah. I don’t think we have interacted on one-on-one but if you follow him, you will know that he is down to earth when it has to do with telling the truth.

“Bishop Kukah is an advocate of democracy so he could not have been calling for the military overthrow of the government. The issues that he raised are very glaring.

“Now, it is only in this country that you can’t talk against government and go free. What is the dust for? I know that the Minister of Information and Culture is paid for his job but he should be honest enough to face certain truth.

“People call Mr. Trump all kinds of names and never has anybody been sued for insulting him but people have been sued in Nigeria for insulting president.”

According to him, “So, Bishop Kukah spoke the minds of genuine Nigerians. And any attempt by anybody to impose a section of the nation upon the other, is bound to cause chaos.

“Bishop Kukah should be seeing as a patriot and not a sacrificial lamb. He is not a hater of government but he is a lover of truth. I stand wholeheartedly on his views,” Rev. Omobude said. The PFN president, who also spoke on the COVID19 pandemic and its second wave in the country, enjoined all Nigerians to take full responsibility in mitigating its spread by adhering to the NCDC protocols just as he thanked God for His mercy upon the lives of every Nigerian.