By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked the security agencies to ensure the safety and security of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah.
In a statement signed by CAN General Secretary, Rev. Joseph Daramola, the Christian body said: “We have been watching the unfolding scenario since Bishop Kukah spoke his mind on the State of the Nation in his Christmas homily and how some groups of people have been threatening him with ﬁre and brimstone while all relevant security agencies are pretending as if nothing unusual is happening.
‘We call on President Muhammadu Buhari and all the security agencies to ensure that no harm befalls the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Hassan Kukah. As far as the Christian Association of Nigeria is concerned, what he said in his Christmas Homily was still within the ambience of the law”.
CAN also warned those threatening the cleric to stop their unlawful actions.
The statement said that Bishop Kukah was posted to serve in Sokoto by the Papacy, adding that threatening him to leave is a global threat to Christianity.
“In this same country, we have a Catholic priest whose name is synonymous with President Muhammadu Buhari yet the Catholic Church has not deemed it ﬁt to sanction him because Freedom of Speech and Association is not only a constitutional matter but godly.
“It is high time those hiding under religious sentiments to promote violence and crises stopped doing so if we want this country to progress. We have had enough of bloodshed in the country and we call on the security agencies to rise up to their constitutional responsibilities. Nothing must happen to Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah. Enough Is enough!”, it said.
“We wonder if those threatening the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto are above the law or if they are sacred cows in the country”.
The statement said CAN had studied the whole Christmas message of Fr. Kukah but could not see any incitement against Islam or non- Christians.
“We see nothing wrong in his message to the nation that has been under the siege of terrorists, herdsmen killers, bandits and kidnappers as if there was no government in place. We see nothing wrong in telling a government whose lopsided appointments are against Christians the whole truth.
“If criticism against a Muslim President today, is an incitement to violence against Islam, it then means those who were criticising the duo of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan when they were in power were actually attacking Christianity.
“When has it become an offence to speak the truth to power? When has it become a crime to criticise a government in the country? When did the lawful fundamental of human rights suspend in the country? When did some sections of the Constitution suspended without the awareness of the public? “When did the Police and the Directorate of the State Security Services lose their power to miscreants and lawless people who are making boast of their lawlessness without a challenge? We wonder if those Muslim groups who are threatening to deal with Kukah got equal response from their Christian counterparts, are we not setting up the country on ﬁre?”