*President promises to address concerns of insecurity, injustice
The Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw Nigeria from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and other international religious bodies and treaties.
The association led by its President, Rev Samson Ayokunle made this demand when it’s leaders met with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.
According to CAN, such organisations and treaties violate the secular state of the nation as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria and further violate government’s non-partisanship in religious matters as enshrined in the same constitution..
The Christian leaders also called on the Executive and the National Assembly to prevail on states in the North to issue Certificate of Occupancy to churches in the region.
Presenting the demands by CAN, Ayokunle said: ” We call on the Executive and Legislative arms of government to withdraw Nigeria from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and from other international religious bodies and treaties Nigeria signed with such religious organizations.
“Because it violates the secular state of the nation as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria and further violates government’s non-partisanship in religious matters as enshrined in the same constitution. The sanctity of the constitution must be kept for Nigeria to survive as one nation.
“We call on the Executive and the National Assembly to prevail on States in the North to issue Certificate of Occupancy to churches in the region. Many excuses are presently being given by State Governments in the North to deny Christians the right of building their own places of worship.
” 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.
” Do the Christians in the North not have the right to build their houses of worship and serve God without fear or favour? If Nigeria is one country, this type of religious discrimination must come to an end.
CAN equally called on President Buhari to address the lopsidedness in appointments done by his administration for both ethnic and religious balance for all of us to be able to do pilgrimage together as a nation.
Citing the defence apparatus of the country which is skewed in favour of one religion, he said in the recently released statistics of appointments made by this administration so far by the Media Adviser to the President, there was apparent lopsidedness because while some States have over thirty people appointed, others do not have more than three.
He wondered how can people from such states with three have the sense of belonging to this nation and this administration?
CAN bemoaned the inability of the State Governments to pay workers’ salaries and allowances as at when due as unacceptable and call on the Federal and State Governments to work together to address this as quick as possible even as they noted that this would step the tide of crimes and suicide that are increasing all over the nation.
They also requested for the revival of the Nigerian Inter-religious Council, (NIREC) which in the past had fostered interaction and promoted religious harmony between Christian and Muslim leaders in the country whose meeting logistics were to be provided by the government.
On the president’s recovery from sickness they said “We wish to seize this opportunity as well to very much congratulate you for the miraculous recovery from sickness which took you away from the shores of Nigeria for many days.
We as an Association took time to pray for you like other religious groups in this nation and we thank God that you are back alive. It was the love of Nigerians for you that kept all things intact while you were away and the able lieutenants that God gave to you who held the fort in your absence. May the affliction never arise again in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
“We want to advise you to manage your recovery well and take one step at a time. Delegation would be of help for you to totally recover and deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
He commended the president for his commitment to the flushing out of Boko Haram Islamic Fundamentalists from Nigeria.
He noted that the insurgents had caused deep sorrow and damage to the nation especially many Christians, churches and facilities in the north—east in particular and the North in general.
He ,however, observed that the murderous 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. Recently I went to a village called Ancha in Bassa Local Government of Plateau State where 21 Christians 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? All these are begging for the quick attention of the President so that the people they are attacking also might not seek self defence which may lead to the breakdown of law and order in the nation.
“Thirdly, we want to commend your administration for the recovery of some of the kidnapped Chibok girls after some years of incarceration by the insurgents in the north—east. We are pleading with you to intensify more efforts to recover the rest who may still be alive before their lives are completely messed up.
” Equally, we sent a special appeal to the government and the Inspector General of Police in particular to help us recover twenty 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,” he said.
On his part,President Buhari assured religious leaders, and all Nigerians, that his administration will address rising concerns of corruption, insecurity and injustices in various parts of the country.
President Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser media, Femi Adesina gave the assurance when he received a Christian delegation led by the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle and a Muslim delegation led by the Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, in separate meetings at the State House.
The President told the CAN delegation that he had already given instructions for the submission of all the names of heads of parastatals in order to address the allegations of lop-sidedness in appointments.
“On the question of one-sided appointments, we will look at it. I have given instructions that a list of all heads of parastatals be submitted to me and I know they will not delay in doing that,’’ he said.
President Buhari said his administration would ensure reform of the police and judiciary, describing both institutions as critical for the security and stability of the nation.
“There is no way we can be comfortable in our country unless we are lucky to have a good police force and judiciary.
“We need a good police force and judiciary to really maintain the legitimacy and the confidence of the populace in governance,’’ the President added.
On the fight against corruption, the President assured both CAN and the JNI leaders that his administration would always be guided by the rule of law and constitutionality in prosecuting all those that had been accused of corruption.
President Buhari explained to the JNI delegation that corruption in the country had taken a cultural dimension, urging all religious leaders and Nigerians to join in the fight in order to reverse the trend.
Source: New Nigerian Newspapers online