The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari’s pro-Islamic policies and “apparent lop-sidedness” of his administrative appointments against Christians.
The CAN leadership finally met with President Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja on Friday 10 November, 2017, after several attempts by the group had been turned down. This meeting happened only after complaints by the Association.
The CAN President, the Rev Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, after the meeting, said it was “better to be late than never,” satisfied that the Association was able to, at least lay out its grievances.
The Christian leaders demanded to know why herdsmen who are attacking communitiesand have killed thousands of people in various communities across the country are not arrested. Ayokunle warned that if the security agencies fail to stop the attacks, “the people they are attacking also might seek self-defence which may lead to the breakdown of law and order in the nation.”
“Fulani Herdsmen who were previously allowed to ply their trade in many communities in Nigeria have become a menace to many communities. The Christian communities of Benue State, Southern Kaduna, Enugu and a host of others have been on the receiving side on this,” said Ayolunle.
“Recently I went to a village called Ancha, in Bassa Local Government of Plateau State, where 21Christians in a village were killed overnight by Fulani Herdsmen. My church in that village lost 20 members out of the 21 and we gave them mass burial. It was a gory sight to behold. The most painful and baffling thing about it was that after that attack, they came to the same area again and killed another 24 people with none of them arrested by the enforcement agents. What a complicity!
“Why are the Fulani herdsmen devastating communities without being arrested? Why are they not prosecuted? Why was the source of their ammunition not investigated? Why do they roam about with guns without being arrested?” asked the CAN president.
CAN urged resident Buhari to keep Nigeria as a secular state according to the constitution. The first step, they said, was to leave the Organisation of Islamic Countries.
Nigerian church leaders, at the meeting pointed to evidence of the ongoing persecution and marginalisation that Christians experienced in the predominantly Muslim northern parts of Nigeria where churches were demolished by the governors.
“Many excuses are presently being given by state governments in the north to deny Christians the right of building their own places of worship,” said Ayokunle. “Recently, Jigawa state government pulled down some church structures under the guise that they did not have building permit. The truth of the matter as obtained from the chairman of CAN in the state was that the churches had applied for permission to build for not less than a year or more without any response.”
The Christian Association also demanded that the government must “fight corruption without fear or favour including those around you” following accusations that the Buhari administration was harbouring corrupt government officials.
The Association asked the President to do its best to “recover the 20 Borno women that were kidnapped by Boko Haram while going to bury their relative who died outside Maiduguri. Up till now, we did not hear anything over the matter from the government neither was our letter acknowledged. We are renewing our appeal again for the recovery of those women who were all Christians.”
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, Global Christian News and Priest, Anglican Diocese of Jos
Image Credits: CC/Google images/CAN Leaders/