*threaten ICC action
By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Following comments purpotedly credited to the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Reverend Father Matthew Hassan Kukah suggesting that if it were to be a Christian in power in Nigeria, the North may have plotted a coup, Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has frowned at the comment, pointing out that all the violent coups so far in Nigeria, were carried out by Christians.
CNG expressed this in a statement signed by its spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, made available to our correspondent on Monday December 28, 2020.
“History is being shamefully and blatantly reviewed, rewritten and falsified In the process, the consciousness eroded Kukah that the four most violent military insurrections in Nigeria’s history were schemed, spearheaded and executed by non-Muslims, and in most cases, non-Northerners.
“It is important therefore, to place on record, that the very first and most bloody January 1966 coup was carried out by mostly non-Muslim Igbo army officers including Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, and Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna,” the group said.
It further pointed out that he casualties of the coup were mostly Northern Muslims including the Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Brigadier Abubakar Maimalari and others.
“This was followed by another bloody counter-coup same year led By Yakubu Gowon and Yakubu Danjuma (both non-Muslim Northerners) which saw Major-General Gowon succeed Ironsi.
“In 1975, Gowon (Northern Christian) was ousted in a peaceful palace coup by Brigadier Murtala Muhammed (a Northern Muslim).
“In 1976, the bloody aborted coup by Lt Colonel Bukar Suka Dimka, a Northern Christian, led to the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed, a Northern Muslim.
“Then the relatively non-violent Coup of December 31, 1983 led by a group of senior army officers headed by Major General Muhammadu Buhari, a Northern Muslim, overthrew the government of President Shehu Shagari, another northern Muslim.
“A palace coup was then led by Major General Ibrahim Babangida, a northern Muslim who peacefully overthrew the administration of Buhari.In 1990, Major Gideon Orkar, a Northern Christian, staged a violent attempt to overthrow the government of General Ibrahim Babangida.In 1993 in a bloodless palace coup, General Sani Abacha overthrew the interim government of Chief Ernest Shonekan,” it recalled.
CNG said that Kukah’s calumny is so glaring in the mischievous way he deliberately distorted the Nigerian coup narratives to suit an agenda that tends to portray the North, the Hausa/ Fulani and Muslims in bad light and render them as the culprit and the guilty entity.
“We are thus worried that this attempt at singling out a certain religion and targeting its adherants for stereotyping and stigmatizing follows the same pattern employed just before the Rwandan massacre of 1996.
“With the utmost concern, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) notes the latest attempt by a Reverend Father Mathew Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese to destroy the quest for national integration by instigating violence through exploiting cleavages of religious nature to cause disharmony and facilitate the further emasculation of Northern Nigerian Muslims,” it stressed.
The CNG said that it finds it ironic that a Reverend would choose the revered occasion of the celebration of the birth of Christ to needlessly incite hatred against a section of the country.
“This statement by Kukah only goes to testify to the growing trend by bigots of selectively amplifying the perceived crimes of the Hausa/Fulani Muslims and downplaying those committed against them.
“It testifies to how religious bodies and leaders such as Kukah in more ways than one, attempt to aid the deterioration of the situation in the country by stimulating a form of Islamophobia on the back of the most gratuitous false story of an Islamisation agenda.
“It also furthers the irresponsible and unacceptable practice of preachers using the pulpit to promote falsehood and incite their followers against certain sections of the society by labelling and earmarking them to be targeted irrespective of whether they are part of a crime committed or not.
“We do not contend their claims of the current administrative lapses, nor do we intend to fault the right of people to criticise government’s inadequate, ineffective, exclusive and unfocused policies.
“The Northern Muslims, contrary to the deliberate distortions by the Kukahs, happen to be the major casualty of this administration’s serial misgovernance in terms of security, economy, distribution of key federal appointments and essential goods and services, making it unacceptably irresponsible for Kukah and his ilk to hide behind the guise of criticism of government to attack a whole ethnic or religious group.
“We therefore emphatically repudiate any attempt at the vilification of one ethnic and religious group or the other for whatever reason or justification. In this light, we deem the Kukah’s persistent targeting of the entire northern Muslims for vilification, systematic dehumanization, profiling, alienation or any action that will render them object of attack and persecution, not only immoral and illegal, but also abhorrent to our sensibilities and ordinary decency and therefore unacceptable.
“We at CNG are quite aware that targeting of any ethnic or religious group and singling it out for any negative action for all intents and purposes, is against both our laws and international law.
“Such acts are the prelude to genocide and ethnic cleansing and therefore, are actionable under international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as international criminal law.We are also familiar with the provisions of the Rome Statute in this respect, as well as the processes and outcomes of the various international tribunals and courts from the Nuremberg Tribunal to the recent tribunals that tried cases related to genocide and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and other situations.
“We therefore give notice to Kukah and his fellow instigators and perpetrators of all hate crimes that the CNG is ready and willing to take matters to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for redress where local remedies could not be provided against their irresponsible actions,” they warned.
Meanwhile, the group reminded the Federal Government of the imperative of checkmating all religious groups and religious teachings that undermine Nigeria’s peace, security, and peaceful coexistence through unguarded utterances and deliberate actions aimed at fomenting unrest and engendering inter-religious and inter-communal conflicts.
They said that individuals associated with such groups or actions that incite others to violations must be decisively dealt with.
“In that regard, we remind government of our earlier advice for the enactment of appropriate laws to deal with all manifestations of hate speech from any quarter” they concluded.