By Deji Elumoye
The Presidency has reacted to the ultimatum given by an Islamic group to the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev Hassan Kukah to apologise over his reported malicious statement against Islam saying it was wrong for the Muslim group to issue such ultimatum and should therefore let the catholic priest be.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Wednesday evening described as wrong and unconstitutional the ultimatum a group based in Sokoto, “Muslim Solidarity Forum,” gave Father Kukah to tender an unreserved apology to the entire Muslim Ummah over his recent “malicious comments” against Islam, or quietly and quickly leave the state.”
He said: “Under our laws, groups or factions must not give quit notices, neither should they unilaterally sanction any perceived breaches. Where they occur, it is the courts of law that should adjudicate. Unilateral action is not the way to go.
Groups such as the Muslim Solidarity Forum must be seen to share and uphold the country’s multi-religious principles. And individuals like Father Kukah must respect the feelings of his fellow Nigerians in his private and public utterances”.
The presidential media aide further stressed that: “Under our Constitution, every citizen has the right to, among others, freedom of speech and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without any inhibitions. Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity. The right for all religions to co-exist is enshrined in this country’s Constitution. The duty of the government, more so, this democratic government, is to ensure that the Constitution is respected. But all must respect the rights and sensitivities of their fellow Nigerians.
Shehu added that although Father Kukah had greatly offended many with his controversial remarks against the government and the person of the President, with some even accusing him of voicing anti-Islamic rhetoric, “on matters such as these, responsible leadership in any society must exercise restraint”.