By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has expressed disappointment over what it described as the prolonged silence by President Muhammadu Buhari regarding the alleged move to polarise the military along religious divides by Sheik Abubakar Gumi.
In a statement issued by the CAN General Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola, on Wednesday, the association said that Buhari’s prolonged silence is tantamount to an endorsement of Gumi’s dangerous statement.
“We have not heard the Presidency react to this dangerous statement as they are supposed to do, cautioning this cleric who has thrown caution to the wind. Such a grave allegation is evil, divisive, unpatriotic, ill-wind and reprehensible,” it said.
“CAN expressed shocks, pains and disappointment in one Islamic leader, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, over his alleged profiling of military operatives recently while addressing some bandits in Tegina forest, a border town between Niger and Kaduna States.
“If what Gumi reportedly said was attributed to a Christian leader, the security operatives would have invited him or declared him wanted and the Presidency would have publicly condemned that Christian leader,” he said.
CAN recalled how comments made by Apostle Johnson Suleiman, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, Prophet Isa El-Buba and of recent, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah’s statements were handled by security operatives.
According to CAN, the federal government equally reacted swiftly to statements recently made by the Christian religious leaders.
“Do we truly have sacred cows in the country now? We are curious to know how Gumi was able to locate the whereabouts of the bandits when our security agencies are giving us the impression that they are invincible.
“If the terrorists can be located, what hinders the police and the military from arresting them and bringing them to book? Is anyone in government conniving with the terrorists so that this insecurity might continue?
“We call on Gumi to immediately withdraw the unpatriotic and divisive utterances credited to him in the interest of peace and unity of this country,” it said.
Gumi was quoted as saying: “What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and non-Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite crisis.’”
CAN said anyone who is insinuating that it was the Christian soldiers who are attacking bandits does not wish the country well.
It also said that such a person does not want the war against terrorism and banditry to end in victory.
It added that such unreasonable outburst is not only demoralizing but a plot to divide the Nigerian military into two along religious lines.
“It equally derogatively portrays the non-Christian soldiers as being not committed to fighting criminality.
“We still want to believe that Sheik Gumi was quoted out of context. But if it was true, then, the unity and peace of the country are being threatened by the sentimental statement of this cleric. We have not heard the Presidency react to this dangerous statement as they are supposed to do, cautioning this cleric who has thrown caution to the wind.
“Such a grave allegation is evil, divisive, unpatriotic, ill-wind and reprehensible. We ask again, is Sheik Gumi trying to polarise the military along the religious divides? Is he inciting the bandits against Christians? Is Gumi saying that the Muslim soldiers are on vacation in the ongoing war against terrorists, murderous herdsmen and bandits? What good will this statement do to the insecurity in the country? We are of the opinion that the government of Nigeria should seriously caution Gumi for his reckless and inflammatory statement,” CAN said.