* ‘Buhari shouldn’t make Nigeria an Islamic nation’
Nigeria’s secularity must be faithfully guarded to ensure stability and progress, senior clergymen warned yesterday.
They pointedly told the House of Representatives not to pass into law the Sharia Bill pending before it.
If passed into law, the bill will empower Sharia Courts to try non-Muslims, including Christians in criminal cases.
They also noted that Christian Religious Studies (CRS) as a subject in school curricula was increasingly being treated with disdain and in some cases expunged amid lopsided federal appointments in favour of moslems.
Rising from the 111th general meeting of the church council in Takum Local Council of Taraba State, the leadership of the Christian Reformed Church-Nigeria (CRC-N), in a communique observed the said bill with dismay, saying it was aimed at igniting religious upheaval in the country.
Also, a pro-democracy on-governmental organization, Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has accused the minister of Interior Affairs, retired General Abdulrahman Danbazau, of breaching section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended) by taking directives from a private religious leader- the Sultan of Sokoto- in adjusting a national holiday from two to three days.
The group also carpeted the Federal Government “for creating a considerable degree of uncertainty and causing commotion to businesses and the private sector by the unilateral and impromptu declaration of the extension of the public holiday to mark the end of the fasting season by adherents of the Moslem faith.”
In a statement signed jointly by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf , HURIWA said the Constitution has clearly provided in section 10 that no particular religion should be elevated to a status of state religion.
The group said the “wordings of the official press statement authorised by the minister convey the impression that this government has tacitly adopted one of the two foreign religions as its administration’s official religion.”
Besides, the group said it was economically suicidal for a nation on the brink of economic recession and comatose for the political class in power at the centre to “arbitrarily create more national holidays which contribute next to nothing to the growth and advancement of the national economy.”
The communique which was jointly signed by the President of the Church Council, Rev. Caleb O.S Ahima and its General Secretary, Rev. David S. Fachano, affirmed: “The Sharia Bill which has passed second reading at the House of Representatives and which is aimed at empowering Sharia Court to try criminal cases should be withdrawn immediately.”
It wondered why the National Assembly embarked on such a “destructive venture,” stressing that if passed into law, “other religious beliefs, including Christianity would be threatened and relegated.”
“Nigeria is a secular state,” the church leaders noted, calling on Nigerians to challenge the bill which “if passed into law, would compel Christians and adherents of other religions to appear and be tried in Sharia Courts, when disputes ensue between them and Muslims.”
The clerics who observed that the “advocates of Sharia had earlier on told the nation that it was strictly a Muslim affair,” said they could not fathom why the National Assembly is on the brink of making it a law for all Nigerians.
The communique also condemned the decision of some of the northern states governments to expunge CRK from their educational curricula: “The Synod condemns in total terms the activities of governments of some northern states who have completely removed CRK from their school curricula and projected Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) as though Nigeria were an Islamic state.”
Describing the act as a “conspiracy against Christians in Nigeria,” they underlined the need for the Federal Government to immediately call to order such state governments, a step, the church believes would go a long way in sustaining the current peace in the country.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to direct the Federal Ministry of Education to as a matter of urgency reverse that draconian decision and allow CRK and IRK thrive side by side in all the states of the federation or risk expunging IRK in the curricula of states that are predominated by Christians because what is good for Muslims is also good for Christians,” they said.
They affirmed that the recent retirement of top security personnel was only targeted at those Christian faith: “We noted that there is high level of conspiracy to remove Christians from all top security positions in the country,” andthat the “aim is to totally frustrate and destroy the Christian faith.”
According to the communiqué: “Most of the Service Chiefs compulsorily retired by Buhari’s government are Christians and predominantly from the South-South and South-East and not from the North, while most of them have been replaced with core Muslims.”
While calling on the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to be “resolute and not take sides with government to the detriment of the Christianity,” they added that the Church must as well play its umbrella- role by carrying along everybody irrespective of differences.
HURIWA added: “We are worried that at a time that President Muhammadu Buhari is accused of appointing and allocating almost 80 percent of all the strategic military and paramilitary positions to Hausa/Fulani Moslems from the North and at a time the entire maritime and crude oil sector are dominated by appointees by Buhari from his Northern region, the minister of Interior who recently appointed an entirely Moslem and Northern heads of agencies under the Interior Affairs ministry is conveying this sinister impression that Islam is now the official religion. We condemn this total affront to constitutionalism and we caution this government to thread softly and stop creating an atmosphere of mutual disaffection and distrust which may snowball into a catastrophic national crises of monumental proportions if unchecked. We call on statesmen and women who love Nigeria to call President Muhammadu Buhari to order so he does not lead Nigeria into perdition”.
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