The Christian Association of Nigeria has reacted vehemently to the response of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) over its position on shortlisted justices of the Supreme Court while also highlighting some of the injustices in the country
In a strongly worded response signed by its General Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola and made available to Church Times on April 11, CAN accused the Council of using vulgar, immature and unprintable words to describe it in its bid to justify the obvious lopsided appointments of the Federal Government in favour of its members.
While insisting that CAN as a body does not have hatred for Muslims, recalling how it defended Muslims whose rights were trampled on in the past, the body notes that NSCIA had never, at any time spoken in defence of Christians who suffered injustices and attacks.
CAN insists that it is unjust for the government to have picked security chiefs from the same faith saying the continuous security gaffes in the country is as a result of these lopsided appointments
It then called on the government to publish the list of those appointments of service chiefs, government agencies and parastatals in the country saying only a handful of Christians are in these positions since 2015.
CAN alleges, “The grand plan of subtle Islamization is to make a Muslim the head of every key board, committee, parastatal and put Christians under without much influence in the decision-making process in the establishment (irrespective of their number). Cases of this abound severally.
This observation of the Christian Association of Nigeria has been recently strengthened by the ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria’ of the U. S. Department of State. In the report, it was stated that ‘traditional relationships were used to pressure government officials to favour particular ethnic groups in the distribution of important positions and other patronage.’
Why Muslims didn’t get positions in the past
Still, on appointments, CAN states that Many Muslim did not get positions in government because they shunned western education but rather were busy sending their children to Arabic and Quranic schools “Were they not opposing self-rule initially when the Southerners moved the motion for it because they were not prepared educationally for it?”
It recalls the unlawful take over schools built by the Christian missionaries when our Muslim counterparts were investing in the Quranic schools. “Up till today, it is those things that cannot bring development in education that the NSCIA members are still fighting for such as the wearing of hijab in schools started by Christians and are still largely being maintained by them. Will a girl wearing hijab be more brilliant in school than the rest of her counterparts? They have forgotten that till today, we are not mounting pressure on the government to introduce the Christian culture to the Islamic schools.
“A group of Muslims today still says that ‘Western Education is forbidden’ (Boko Haram) and they have taken up arms to wipe Christians out of the country. There was a time when a Christian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, established modernized Almajiri Schools to withdraw their children who, according to some Northern leaders, had become big pool from where terrorists and now bandits recruit from the streets, CAN did not kick against it, despite the fact that we knew that those schools were not meant for Christian children and our commonwealth was being used in several millions of naira to run them.
“Again, when this government came on board and closed down those schools and NSCIA said nothing, did CAN ever make any release to attack NSCIA? It was lack of respect for another religion that made NSCIA attack CAN thus making itself an official mouthpiece for the Government. This suggests again that those in Government are plainly carrying out NSCIA’s marginalization policy against qualified Christians.”
CBN sponsorship of CAN
CAN also punctures the claim by NSCIA that it is being funded by CBN. CAN says CBN had approached CAN on 11th March 2005 requesting for the use of National Ecumenical open space as a car park by its staff. “This was officially approved by CAN in November 2006. In furtherance of that, a rent agreement was entered into legally, since then, they have been using the place till date. NSCIA is aware of this but only attempted to blackmail CAN.
“Didn’t they know that if at all CAN gave them parking space free, it would need to hire security men to watch over the vehicles parked within its premises till the owners take them? Will we also not pay such security people? Didn’t they equally know that the parking space has to be maintained with money?”
CAN alleges that the Judiciary under President Mohammadu Buhari has been an appendage of NSCIA because its members were in charge of its affairs.
“We all know how they removed Justice Walter Onnoghen from office without following due process. But for the critical section of the polity including the likes of Col. Umar Dangiwa, the incumbent President of the Court of Appeal would have been denied her succession privilege and right. We didn’t see NSCIA on the list. The entire country knew how the scandalous process went.
If this is another falsehood, we dare the Federal Government or its spokespersons to publish the names, state of origins and religions of those who have held the following positions from 2015 to date: The Chief Justice of Nigeria. The President, Court of Appeal. The Chief Judge, Federal High Courts. The Chief Judge, FCT High Court”
Nigeria’s membership of OIC , others
CAN also recalls Nigeria’s unlawful membership of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) under the General Ibrahim Babangida regime stating, “The membership of the country has made the Federal Government a key sponsor of Islam in the country. To buttress this point, we demand to know from the Federal Government or its unofficial mouthpiece, NSCIA: Who funds Nigeria’s membership of these Islamic organizations?
*Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)
*Islam in Africa Organization (IAO)
*Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Hqtrs Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and all its agencies or allies
*D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation Hqtrs Istanbul, Turkey
*Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) with headquarters in Morocco, etc.
* The Saudi Arabia-led Islamic Military Alliance Against Terrorism.
In case NSCIA is not aware, CAN and its members belong to many Christian organizations like the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), World Council of Churches, etc, of which no government has been supporting our membership and neither does the Federal Government send anyone to represent the country unlike what it does for Muslims. If this is not Islamisation agenda, what should we call it?
“Who is funding the Grand Khadi with several millions of Naira yearly? Is it not the Federal Government? What about the Sharia courts in the Constitution that is being funded by the government? The Arabic language that is scripted on the Naira and the flag of the Nigerian Army, is it our national language and was it prescribed by the Constitution?”
National Board for Arabic Studies
CAN recalls, “In March 2018, the Federal Government, through the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, disclosed that it appropriated over N600 million in the 2018 budget for execution of capital projects at the National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies (NBAIS), just as it has committed N200 million to the rehabilitation of the board’s buildings ceded to it by the government. The Minister also disclosed that the Ministry would soon capture staff of the board into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), which will cost the government over N2 billion annually.
“NBAIS is the regulatory and examination body for Arabic and Islamic Secondary Schools and centres in the country. The Board, established in 1960 as Arabic and Islamic Studies Unit under the defunct Northern Nigeria Ministry of Education became a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Education in 2017 under President Buhari who used the Federal Executive Council to secure a waiver for the establishment of the board without the involvement of the National Assembly (see The GUARDIAN 12 March 2018).
“The National Council on Education, the highest decision–making body in education had directed relevant agencies and institutions to accept graduates of higher Islamic and Arabic institutions into higher institutions of learning. Is Nigeria an Islamic State as being claimed in the records of every Islamic organisation Nigeria is a ‘member’?
Is there any such privilege for the Christians? If this is not Islamisation, what is it?) How can we keep quiet when a religious commission like this is being allocated billions of our commonwealth without proper legal backing and without its counterpart for the other religions in the country? What motivated President Buhari into leading the Federal Executive Council to grant a waiver for the establishment of this board in 2017 if it was not a ploy by him to use his position to promote Islam? Can the Executive make law without recourse to the National Assembly?”
Christians, endangered specie
While calling on the federal government to scrap this board which it claims does not have legal backing immediately or create similar boards for other religions, CAN laments that “Christians have become endangered species and lives have been lost to terrorists. The murderous suspected terrorists, herdsmen and bandits were targeting pastors and predominantly Christian communities until a while ago when it became an attack on anyone. We are disappointed that NSCIA is too busy to call their children to order.
A CAN Chairman was abducted and murdered, till date, NSCIA has not deemed it fit to console or react proportionately. We call on the leadership of NSCIA to borrow a leaf from CAN. We have no reason to attack or criticize them but to objectively criticize the Federal Government that presently rules the country as if we are no longer a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation whose leaders are to lead in strict adherence to the constitution and with respect for fundamental human rights of all citizens, decency, good conscience and fear of God.
“Christians in Nigeria under CAN have severally been attacked through the uncouth and provocative languages by MURIC (The Muslim Rights Concern) but CAN maintained a cool head and never reacted to such evil-intended, anti-Nigerian distractions. CAN is a peace-loving Association and it believes in dialogue and negotiation rather than verbal war in the media as done by the NSCIA in its recent publication. NIREC is also there. Or should we all pretend that this body is not a fluke?”
CAN also recalls that the leadership of NSCIA protested against the perceived lopsided appointments of the CONFAB under President Goodluck Jonathan. “We did not go to the press abusing them for their actions. Can’t they borrow a leaf from us? We in CAN speak as decent, concerned and responsible stakeholders, and we have been very consistent in this irrespective of who heads CAN or who leads Nigeria. So, the cheap blackmail by NSCIA is unbecoming of a religious body. In its last outing, it appears more like a political organ serving narrow aims which supports bad governance in the country.”
Balewa, Murtala Muhammed, Shehu Shagari and Umaru Yar-Adua,
CAN notes that it had no issues with Nigeria’s Muslim rulers like Balewa, Murtala Muhammed, Shehu Shagari and Umaru Yar-Adua, because they did not allow their religion (Islam) to becloud their reasoning as patriots.
“The trouble started with Babangida and the OIC membership and now Buhari, who has not followed the Constitution in all his appointments. For the first time in our recent history, the three arms of government are headed and dominated by Muslims. If the Christians were to be their heads, only God knows what some fundamentalists would have turned the country into by now. But here we are today, President Buhari and NSCIA would see nothing wrong with that in a multi-religious country like Nigeria. This is the truth, not blackmail.”