UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUES:
WHY NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS MUST SPEAK OUT GLOBALLY ON 19TH MARCH, 2017
Section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (as amended) states as follows:
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”
It is a Constitutional right for any Nigerian to choose any religion or any faith to practice. Any attempt to hinder this right in any manner amounts to a violation of the Constitution which is an act of treason. Unfortunately, a section of the country, based on misguided religious fervor and zeal, has developed the habit of murdering people of differing faith, particularly Christians. While Christians are not cowards, the doctrine of love and forgiveness in Christianity has over the years restrained them from taking the laws into their hands. Christians have relied on Government to fulfill its statutory obligation of maintaining law and order in the society. Sadly, again and again, Government has failed the nation and it has failed the Christians. These acts of impunity and lawless killing of Nigerians on the basis of religious intolerance must stop. Those teaching hate and intolerance must be called to order.
Below is a short catalogue of some of the terrible evils that have befallen Nigeria as a result of religious intolerance.
- 1980 in Bulumkutu, Maduguri where over 5,000 died and 60,000 were displaced.
- Maitatsine riot in Jimeta, Yola and in February 1985, about 586 died
- Pagani ward of Gombe in April 1985 claimed another 165 souls.
- The Easter procession clashes in Ilorin in March 1986
- The clashes between Christian and Muslim students of the University of Ibadan in May 1986.
- Violence in Jos in 1987 and the Kafanchan crises in Southern Kaduna – thousands of people died in Kafanchan, Kano, Zamfara and Bauchi.
- 1988 crisis in Zaria and Kaduna where 107 students of the Ahmadu Bello University were seriously injured during the election of a Christian to the leadership of the Students' Union.
- Shiite uprising in Katsina in 1991 with dozens of lives lost.
- Another clash of Christians and Muslims in Bauchi April 21, 1991 claimed 200 lives and 700 places of worship were burnt.
- Reinhard Bonnke Riot of October 1991 in which hundreds died in Kano.
- Kafanchan crises of 1992 where, at least 60 people were killed in Zango Kataf.
- Several more lives were lost in Funtua, Katsina state during the Kalakato crises of February 1992.
- November 1993 to June 9, 1998, two occurrences of religious riots again in Jos April 1994 and April 1997 where, at least, 200 houses were burnt down and several persons killed.
- During the Obasanjo administration, the Kafanchan crises erupted again in 1999 and dozens were killed.
- There was also the Borno religious riot which left several persons injured in the same year.
- Sharia Law crises in Kaduna in February and May 2000 respectively where many, again, lost their lives.
- The Jos crises also erupted again in 2001 and 2004 while similar riots were seen in Kano and Gombe in 2001.
- Miss World Beauty Pageant riot in Kaduna 2002.
- There was resurgence of the Jos crises in November 2008, January 2010 and March 2010. Hundreds of lives were lost.
- According to Governor Shettima of Borno State, Boko Haram has murdered over 100,000 Nigerians.
- Boko Haram hit Abuja with attacks on the UN buildings on August 26, 2011.
- 7th March, 2010, 501 Nigerians, mostly Christians, were murdered as they slept in Dogo Nahawa, Jos, Plateau State by religious insurgents.
- From 1996 to 2006, about 121 people have lost their lives in Bauchi and Gombe States alone as a result of Fulani and Farmers clashes.
- 2002 and 2004 clashes in Yelwa Sani Gorowa area of Plateau State between Farmers and Fulani Herdsmen.
- 13th July, 2014, 10 persons were killed in clashes between Farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the Pilagani Street of Langtang, North Local Government of Plateau State.
- 14th July, 2014 over 50 people were reported to have been killed in Pilagani district of Marakun Local Government Area of Zamfara State in a clash again with Fulani herdsmen.
- May 2015, over 100 people died in villages and refugees camps located in Ikura, Benue State from attacks by suspected herdsmen.
- On Christmas day 2011, a coordinated bombing of churches resulted in 41 fatalities.
- January 23rd 2012 another three churches were attacked on the same date in Kaduna State.
- The orgy of death and destruction has reached every part of Nigeria, notably Nimbo in Enugu State, Aba, Port Harcourt, Onitsha and more recently in Ile – Ife, in Osun State, to mention but a few.
According to a research report by Anne Mulder, as of 2014, over 13,000 Christian Churches have been destroyed and abandoned in the northern parts of the country. This is in addition to hundreds of Christian communities that have been destroyed and sacked by the combination of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.
On 4th February, 2017, the US Congress officially declared that Nigeria is the most dangerous country on earth for anyone to be a Christian. Meanwhile, we have a Constitution that guarantees freedom of religious conviction. Why has the Government failed to defend the Constitution?
For us, as Christians, the deplorable state of insecurity in the nation is no longer acceptable. It does not matter whether it is a Sunni Muslim, Shiite Muslim, Traditionalist, Atheist, or Christian that is killed. Every life is sacred. Every life is supposed to be protected under the Constitution. No one has the right to terminate the life of another human being with impunity. Nigeria is a Sovereign state on the basis of its Constitution and not on the basis of any religion. Therefore, no one has the right to murder any citizen of Nigeria on the basis of differing religious belief.
In addition to the sanctity of life, we detect a grand plan to eradicate Christianity in Nigeria and compel people to adopt a religion that is not of their choice. We are Christians by choice and no one has the right to compel us to worship another god. This attitude of hate must stop and the perpetrators and the sponsors of religious insurgency must be prosecuted. None of them should go scot free.
While the Jihadists have conventional weapons to kill and destroy, Christians have two weapons that evil cannot overcome: Truth and Exposure. This is why every Christian assembly must come out on 19th March, 2017 and stand in front of its place of worship and speak the Trust to expose the evils going on in Nigeria.
These killings and destructions must STOP. A land flowing with milk and honey shall not become a barren wasteland flowing with human blood and tears.
IT IS TIME TO SPEAK OUT.
Dr. Musa Asake,
Christian Association of Nigeria,
Please visit www.canng.org on Thursday 16th of March, 2017 for sample of address to deliver on Sunday, 19th of March, 2017 during the program.
Also read action details on Call For Another Day of Christian Mourning