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 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 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, we shall refer JNI, all Muslim leaders, and Islamic organizations in Nigeria to the questions posed by the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) last year. The NCEF had in September 2017 asked the leaders of Islam in Nigeria the following questions and repeated the questions in November 2017. To date, no leader of Islam has been able to provide any answer. It is our hope that JNI would seek answers to these credible questions and in the process, correct its kindergarten assumptions.
- 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?
- In 1989, Islam in Africa Organization (IAO) held a Conference in Abuja and amongst many other decisions, released a Communiqué tagged Abuja Declarations 1989 in which it affirmed that its purpose was "To eradicate in all its forms and ramifications all non-Muslim religions in member nations. Such religions shall include Christianity, Ahmadiyya and other tribal religions.” (In the original Declaration, the word Christianity was underlined.) Since Nigeria is considered a member nation, could what is going on be an implementation of this decision? Or, could we be corrected that the Conference never held in Abuja in November 1989 or such Communiqué was never released? We are also unaware of any rebuttal of the same statement by Muslims leaders.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- We recall that in 2011 in Harvard, USA, his eminence the Sultan of Sokoto who is also the President of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, was reported to have said during a public function, “I do not recognize any Nigerian Constitution and the only Constitution I recognize is the Koran”. By virtue of Section 38 (1), the Constitution guarantees freedom of Religious conviction while Sharia through its law of “Ridda” forbids it with capital punishment. It is clear there is a huge conflict between the Democratic values of the Constitution of Nigeria and Sharia in the 1999 Constitution. The late Justice Mohammed Bello said, at a lecture in Kaduna, “Section 38 (1) of the Constitution ensures for every person the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, whereas under Sharia, “ridda” (change of religion) is a capital offence. Consequently, the offence of “ridda” is inconsistent with Section 38 (1) and by virtue of Section 1 is unconstitutional.” Therefore, when the President of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs said in a foreign land (which is in itself a treasonable statement) that he does not believe in the Nigerian Constitution (which guarantees freedom of religious conviction), but he believes only in the Koran (which forbids freedom of worship through Sharia’s “ridda”), could not the statement of the Sultan be interpreted as an endorsement of Jihad?
- 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?
- We would not wish to belabor 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
23rd January, 2018