LAGOS, Nigeria — The Christian Association of Nigeria told a group threatening Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto to stop and said security agencies must ensure his safety.
The organization, which is the umbrella body of all Christian denominations in Nigeria, released its statement Jan. 14 in Abuja, two days after the Muslim Solidarity Forum asked Kukah to apologize or leave the state, insisting that his Christmas message criticizing the government could trigger religious violence in the country. The forum describes itself as an umbrella body for Islamic organizations, scholars and clerics.
In his Christmas message, Kukah said Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari “deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him for what seemed like a program to stratify and institutionalize northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second-class status. … He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion.”
In its statement, the Christian association said, “If criticism against a Muslim president today is an incitement to violence against Islam, it then means that those who were criticizing the duo of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan when they were in power were actually attacking Christianity.”
It said “some groups of people have been threatening (Kukah) with fire and brimstone while all relevant security agencies are pretending as if nothing unusual is happening.”
“We wonder if those threatening the Catholic bishop of Sokoto are above the law or if they are sacred cows in the country,” the Christian association added.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari and all the security agencies to ensure that no harm befalls the Catholic bishop of the Sokoto Diocese,” it said, adding that “as far as the Christian Association of Nigeria is concerned, what he said in his Christmas homily was still within the ambience of the law.”
“We have had enough of bloodshed in the country, and we call on the security agencies to rise up to their constitutional responsibilities. Nothing must happen to Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah. Enough is enough,” the Christian association said.