The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) through its Secretariat had a press conference on January 16, 2018 in which they called the attention of the Federal Government to the current situation in the country in which the Fulani Herdsmen are going about killing innocent people with impunity and the lopsided appointments in the Security and Education sectors by President Muhammadu Buhari. The press conference was read by the General Secretary of the Association Rev. Dr. Musa Asake. Immediately after the Press conference, Garba Shehu who is the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity released a press statement in which he accused me that in my press statement “I could not cite any valid cases of constitutional violations.” While his accusation was going round, the JNI had a press conference in Kaduna on January 21, 2018, in which they accused CAN of using Herdsmen to Destabilize Nigeria. This development becomes very necessary for me to respond to the two accusations to put the record straight so that Nigerians should not be misled into believing those hypocritical statements.
MY RESPONSE TO GARBA SHEHU’S ACCUSATION: He Is Selling a Bad Product. Frankly speaking, Garba Shehu should be pitied with his current position because he is trying to sell a bad product and as a result he cannot do without being sycophantic. Unfortunately for him, in his bid to defend President Muhammadu Buhari, whose government’s record for nepotism, favoritism and discrimination is second to none, Shehu goofed by claiming that I “could not cite any valid cases of constitutional violations”. It is apparently clear that Shehu did not read the full text of my address at the Press Conference before kicking against it otherwise, he would have kept quiet. Because in my address, I said inter alia, “...By failing to curb the attacks of the Fulani herdsmen President Buhari has failed to uphold Section 14, Para. 2 (b) in the Constitution which reads, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
Through his partial, sectional and discriminatory appointments, particularly in Security and Education, President Buhari violated Section 14, Para. 3 which reads: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
So, how comes Garba Shehu is clamming that I could not cite any valid cases of constitutional violations? Let me make it clear to Mr. Shehu Garba and suggest that he checks the records, read the daily papers, and listens to what concern Nigerians who are saying that President Buhari has no respect for the Federal Character Commission. I still stand firmly on my position that President Buhari has been making sectional and discriminatory appointments in the Security and Education sectors which poses threat to the country’s democracy and constitution. I advised him to speak with any lawyer outside the Presidency on several sections of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that are being violated by his principal. It was John F. Kennedy Jr. who said, “Politics is too important to be left to the politicians.” For obvious reasons, it seems to me that Garba Shehu is ignorant of the function of the Church to the society. As a Servant of God and a Minister of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have a divine mandate to be a voice to the voiceless, to condemn the evil in the land and to praise or criticize the government as the need arises.
My Response to JNI FOR ACCUSING CAN OF USING HERDSMEN TO DESTABILIZE NIGERIA: JNI is Protecting Fulani Herdsmen Killers
My attention has been drawn to the full text of the statement by the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, read by its secretary, Dr. Khalid Aliyu where as usual, they ignored the substance of the position of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to the ongoing genocide in some states of the Federation. Instead of facing the reality and admit its ungodly complicity with the Fulani terrorists, the JNI leadership at its press conference held in Kaduna on Sunday January 21, 2018, embarked upon character assassination, acrimony, vulgar abuse in their futile attempt to justify their ungodly, unpatriotic and wicked support for the murderous Fulani herdsmen who are also enjoying the complicity of the security agencies whose headships are occupied by the JNI’s cronies at the expense of the unity and progress of our dear country Nigeria.
It is an open secret that the criminal activities of their boys have gone to the extreme because of the tacit encouragement they are getting from the leadership of the JNI, the way and manner they did for the Boko Haram terrorists when they began thinking they were spreading Islam in the country. There was never a time the JNI has come out publicly to condemn the criminal activities of the Fulani herdsmen since they have begun killing and maiming the innocent all because most of their activities were targeted at Christians in the Northcentral, Enugu, Ondo, Ekiti and a host of others. If otherwise, how come that it was the Press Conference addressed by CAN that forced the JNI to break its ungodly silence over the evil in the land, that is being perpetrated by the people they not only know too well but they have been protecting, for religious and tribal sentiments, which literally tied the hands of the security chiefs who also share same sentiments.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) wishes to protest the lack of seriousness and kindergarten approach of JNI to serious national issues. We are amazed that the spokesman of Jama’atu Nasril Islam could ascribe the ownership and control of Fulani herdsmen to any Christian organization. Such attempt to stand reason on its head does not portray JNI as a serious-minded organization. We used to assume that JNI is a credible and responsible organization that can meaningfully engage in national discourse. Unfortunately, the response of Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu is a great disappointment.
May we suggest to his Eminence, the President of Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, to reach into the community of educated Muslims and find serious minded individuals that could engage in serious national issues to speak for JNI. The Fulani herdsmen are Muslims. For the herdsmen, it would be considered demeaning if anyone should ascribe any other religion apart from Islam to them. Therefore, for anyone to suggest that the Fulani herdsmen are “franchise” of CAN is the most unimaginative and ridiculous statement of the century.
We noted the poor attempt of JNI to distract people’s attention, without addressing the issues, in the waves of Islamist religious insurgency in Nigeria. The murderous attacks of the Fulani herdsmen are insufferable and we must speak out in condemnation of both the Fulani herdsmen and their murderous activities. Not only will the Christian Association of Nigeria speak out, CAN shall also encourage other Christian and humanitarian bodies to speak out. Speaking in condemnation of cold-blooded murder cannot be termed “hate speech”. The truth can neither be referred to as hate speech, nor can it be overshadowed by sentiment. The attacks of Fulani herdsmen have to be highlighted particularly after the attacks of genocidal proportions in Benue State. Christians were the victims of the unprovoked criminal attacks on their homestead. In the circumstance, no one can accuse CAN of overheating the polity. Those who are overheating the polity are the sponsors and protectors of the Fulani herdsmen. And in due course, justice and judgment shall catch up with them.
It is rather unfortunate that the State structure set up to protect all citizens has become discriminatory in the discharge of its functions. While some citizens are protected, some are exposed to danger while the instrument of the state is being used to protect the assailant criminals. Christians in Nigeria realize that even the existing political parties no longer protect Christians. As nature abhors vacuum, CAN is compelled by the circumstances to speak for Christians in Nigeria. Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are Moslem organizations and both have confirmed that they are waging jihad in Nigeria. Christians do not have similar organizations anywhere in the world that goes about killing innocent people to enlarge Christianity.
Bishop Oyedepo, Bishop Kukah, Apostle Suleiman, Prophet El Buba, and many other Christian leaders in the vanguard of defending Christians and Christian communities are filling the void which Christian politicians and politically correct Christians are meant to fill. These men of God cannot remain silent while Christians are being slaughtered like rams. The often touted claim that more Muslims are killed than Christians is nothing but “Taqiyya” because Muslims killed in error by the Jihadists have earned 70 virgins in paradise. From the pattern of attacks over the years, it is clear that the target of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are Christians while Muslims that are victims are referred to as “collateral damage”.
In order, not to prolong debate on this issue, I will like to refer JNI, all Muslim leaders, and Islamic organizations in Nigeria to the following questions for it is my hope that JNI would seek answers to these credible questions and in the process, correct its kindergarten assumptions.
First, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, in one of his video releases, said in 2012, “… This war is not political. It is religious. It is between Muslims and unbelievers (arna). It will stop when Islamic religion is the determinant in governance in Nigeria or, in the alternative, when all fighters are annihilated and no one is left to continue the fight. I warn all Muslims at this juncture that any Muslim who assists an unbeliever in this war should consider himself an unbeliever and should consider himself dead.” If this statement is not a declaration of Jihad, could Muslim leaders explain what this means?
Second, In a 154-page Research Report conducted by Arne Mulder in 2015, the researcher affirmed that over 13,000 Christian places of worship (Churches) have been destroyed in Northern Nigeria as at December 2014. Under what condition do Muslim insurgents destroy Churches if not Jihad?
Third, On the 4th of February, 2017, the United States Congress affirmed that the most dangerous nation on earth for anyone to be a Christian is Nigeria. The implication is that Nigerian Christians have become endangered species in a country in which they constitute over 50% of the population.
Fourth, According to the Global Index on Terror, the 1st and the 4th most terrible Islamic Terrorist organizations in the world operate in Nigeria. Boko Haram is 1st while the Fulani Herdsmen is 4th. If these terror organizations are not fighting Jihad, what then are they doing in Nigeria?
Fifth, Under the present administration, every key and sensitive position in National Security is held by Muslims from the North, in outright violation of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution. Also early in the life of this administration, we recall that more than 95% of senior army officers retired from the Military were Christians. In NNPC, only recently, more than 95% of the new appointments into senior management positions are Northern Muslims. Taking these developments in conjunction with the lopsided appointments in National Security, is one not confronted with the inevitable conclusion that there is a deliberate attempt to emasculate Christians, Southerners and other non-Muslim population of Nigeria verifiably by intimidation and force which are stealth Jihad?
Sixth, Despite unconstitutionally appropriating all security positions to the Muslim North, the Fulani Herdsmen operate with impunity in mostly Christian areas, killing, maiming, raping, and destroying without any arrest, without any prosecution. If this is not complicity of the Muslim dominated Security services, are we then to conclude that the Nigerian security units are so incompetent that they cannot successfully engage insurgents after the Nigerian Army successfully prosecuted a Civil War?
Seventh, Added to the above are the big questions begging for answers. Who is funding and equipping the Islamic insurgents? And more importantly, who is shielding them from prosecution?
Eight, We would not wish to belabour these issues but rather appeal to the distinguished leaders of Islam, who have stepped forward to be identified, to join us in putting Nigeria first. Nigeria is a Secular State according to Section 10 of the Constitution, but a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious society. The diversity in the country should be harnessed for progress and prosperity and not resisted thus leading to disintegration of the country. It is wishful thinking for anyone to imagine the possibility of imposing one religion or one culture on 389 Ethnic Nationalities.
God bless Nigeria!
Rev. Dr. Musa Asake
Christian Association of Nigeria
26 January, 2018