The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), on Thursday, called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to suspend the ongoing implementation of creation of grazing reserve for herdsmen in all states of the federation, describing it an indirect way of islamising Nigeria through violence.
Arising from its two day National Executive Council Meeting (NEC), CAN also warned Governor Aregbesola of Osun State against supporting use of hijab in schools in the state, saying favouring one religion over another would not bring peaceful coexistence.
A Communique jointly signed by the General Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa Asake and the Director Legal & Public Affairs of CAN, Albert Uko, after the meeting at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, said issues like recunstruction of North East zone, alteration of constitution to give more power to sharia law, as well as persecution of Christians in the northern part of Nigeria were part of the deliberation.
The statement read in part: “The meeting observed with serious concern the bill in the National Assembly seeking to create Grazing Reserve for a segment of herdsmen against the collective interest of farmers.
The criminal menace of these herdsmen is now affecting almost all the states of the federation and one may be inclined to believe that this is an indirect way to Islamise Nigeria through violence.
“The church calls on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to suspend consideration of this bill in its entirety and call for dialogue with stakeholders to give room for more inputs. “The meeting noted with concern the recent High Court judgment in Osun State on the use of hijab in all schools including missionary schools. This development is unfortunate and may send a very wrong signal that Osun State Government is clearly favoring one religion over the other.
The Osun State Government is hereby advised to be sensitive to religious matters of this nature for peaceful coexistence. “The meeting condemns totally the ongoing persecution of the church in Nigeria, particularly those in the Northern Nigeria. The instance where a Christian elderly woman is murdered in cold blood for complaining against the blocking of her shop is worrisome.
“The situation where a Christian brother is beaten to a state of coma for eating in the afternoon during Ramadan fast is a clear evidence of the degree of intolerance of Christianity in some parts of the country especially where Sharia law is given prominence. “The church demands that the perpetrators of these dastardly and barbaric acts be tried openly and punished to serve as a deterrent to others.
“The meeting also painfully noted with concern the attempt to smuggle a bill for the amendment of the constitution to provide for the criminal aspect of the Sharia legal system in the NigerianConstitution which will open doors for more persecution of Christians in Nigeria, especially those resident within the jurisdictions where Sharia law is being practiced.
“The meeting appreciates the Federal Government and other donor Countries, Agencies and individuals on the proposed reconstruction of the North East Zone hitherto devastated by insurgency activities.
However, its implementation must be seen to be fair especially to all those who suffered the brunt of the deadly attacks. The members of the Committee saddled with this responsibility must take critical note of the real victims and be guided by their conscience. “The meeting calls on all Christians in Nigeria not to give up on peaceful coexistence and unity with themselves and their neighbors.”
The NEC meeting also conducted a successful election that produced Rev. Dr Samson Ayokunle, candidate of the CCN as the President Elect and Elder Prof. Joseph Otubu, of the OAIC as Vice President Elect for the Association who will be inaugurated after the General Assembly Meeting of the Association to be held at a later date.
The statement commended “the Government for allowing the church to conduct a free, peaceful and credible election into the office of the National President and Vice President as against the strong insinuation of their interference in the process leading to the election.”
They however frowned at members of the Association “who without exhausting in- house mechanism of Christian settlement of disputes among brethren resorted to self help by going to court of law as against the teaching of the Holy Bible.
“The meeting resolved that thorough reconciliation meetings be initiated to bring back to the fold aggrieved members of the Association.”
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