3rd February, 2018
REJOINDER: NSCIA ACCUSES CAN OF HATE SPEECH
Our attention has been drawn to a virulent attack on CAN by one Professor Salisu Shehu, on account of questions asked by the Christian body, which was in response to another absurd claim by Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu of JNI that CAN is the sponsor of Fulani herdsmen. In the paper of the NSCIA, Prof. Salisu Shehu accused CAN of “hate speech”. We wonder when speaking the truth has become “hate speech”?
While we are shocked at the unwarranted verbal attacks on CAN in the said paper, we noticed that the issues were not addressed. Facts that we stated were not refuted and no reasonable explanation was provided to simple, straightforward question. To our mind, the paper of Professor Salisu Shehu was simply diversionary, confusing, and a deliberate attempt to avoid addressing key issues raised in the response of CAN to Jamaatu Nasril Islamic Society.
We are all aware that two major Islamic organizations, Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, are committing large scale murders in Nigeria. Both Islamic insurgency groups have been classified in the Global Index of Terror as the 1st and 4th worst Islamic terrorist organizations worldwide. Therefore, when Christian Association of Nigeria raises alarm and asks credible questions from leaders of Islam in Nigeria, it is absurd that anyone of good conscience would term such questions as “hate speech”. Or, are we supposed to keep mute while Christians are being slaughtered and Christian communities are destroyed with lawless impunity by Islamic insurgents? We shall therefore, for the fourth time, repeat the questions and hopefully, we shall receive clear, straightforward answers from leaders of Islam so that we may know how to proceed.
However, before we proceed to furnish you with the questions again, there is the need to clarify some misconceptions in the paper of Prof. Salisu Shehu. The clarifications are as follows:
- CBN does not fund CAN. The Christian Association of Nigeria does not receive any grant, donation, subvention, or any other financial assistance from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Due to the proximity of the National Christian Center to the CBN, the apex banking institution requested permission for its staff to park their vehicles in the premises of the Christian complex. As it is usual in most parking lots, even the ones owned and controlled by the Government, payment is made for parking vehicles. CAN negotiated with CBN for payment for the service. Therefore, it is improper for anyone to term such payment for services as CBN funding for CAN.
- It was confirmed by the President Goodluck Jonathan Administration that the money carried to South Africa using the private jet of the former President of CAN belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria. It might interest you to note that when the news became public, CAN immediately convened an Emergency meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) to investigate. NEC raised a delegation to meet with the former President of Nigeria and clarify ownership of the money. It is on record that the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the office of the NSA, is the owner of the money and initiator of whatever transaction was to be done in South Africa with the money. The only link with the former President of CAN is that his private jet, which he had leased out to be hired, was used by the office of the NSA to ferry the funds. It is therefore pure mischief and unbridled ill-will for anyone to accuse the former President of CAN of smuggling money to South Africa to purchase arms.
- It is the constitutional right of the General Secretary of CAN, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, as a Nigerian citizen to support any political aspirant of his choice. There is therefore nothing wrong in the President of CAN stating that CAN has nothing to do with the letter Dr. Asake wrote to Gov. Fayose in his individual capacity. On the contrary, the statement of the President of CAN is a positive confirmation that Dr. Asake was exercising his right as a citizen of Nigeria. After all, during elections, would not all citizens vote, irrespective of the office that they hold? And if they are to vote, would not each citizen express support for a candidate? We cannot understand how a straightforward issue such as this could be construed to mean evil. The twist in the narrative of the NSCIA is both disturbing and disappointing.
ISSUES OF THE MOMENT
At the risk of sounding repetitive, the Christian community is demanding answers from leaders of Islam to the following questions posed by the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), since September 2017. This would be the fourth time that these questions are going to be asked publicly and no leader of Islam has ventured an answer. We hope that this time around, leaders of Islam, all over the country shall put heads together and provide logical answers to the following questions. And, please do not insult our sensibilities by referring to demand for truth as “hate speech”. Truth can never be “hate speech”.
- 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.
Barrister Joseph Daramola
Assistant General Secretary
Christian Association of Nigeria