One of last week’s debates, which bordered on the safety of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, should not have come up at all, if it were a different scenario.
Kukah had accused the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), an umbrella body of Muslim groups, of inciting violence against him over the Christmas message. The situation soon assumed a new scale, when the Muslim Solidarity Forum (MSF) warned Kukah to “quickly and quietly leave” Sokoto, because Kukah’s “innuendos and parables” were against Islam and its adherents, and as such, provocative.
Although the presidency later waded in through a statement by Garba Shehu, President Muhammaadu Buhari’s spokesperson and asked that Kukah be left alone. “Under Nigeria’s 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.”
Even without the presidency’s intervention, Kukah’s basic rights shouldn’t be in contention, much less his safety. However, given the unceasing insecurity in different parts of the country, with the north leading the chart, Kukah’s safety, therefore, becomes sacrosanct and a priority for the government. This, it must ensure without reservations.