President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, has told the federal government to open up and be truthful in its handling of religious killings in the country rather than resorting to attack of Christian leaders who dare talk about the killings their wards are being subjected to by the Fulani herdsmen.
Ayokunle’s reaction was coming on the heels of the alleged cover-up of those behind the killings and spreading of lies on the issue by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
In a statement signed by Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to the CAN President, Adebayo Oladeji, Ayokunle warned the minster to stop lying and attacking religious leaders.
“We are disappointed but not surprised with the disparaging lies and abusive statements credited to the Minister of Information in Ilorin during the town hall meeting where he was accusing religious leaders of making alleged provocative statements that can lead to religious war,” the statement read.
The statement reads further: “Is he accusing CAN of “telling lies that our members are being killed, maimed and burnt by the Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East?
“That our members are being killed by the Fulani herdsmen in Plateau, Benue and now Southern Kaduna? That those responsible for these killings profess Islam as their religion?
“That those who killed Madam Bridget Agbahime in Kano were Muslims who were arrested but later discharged and acquitted by the court as requested by the state Attorney- General and Commissioner of Justice?
“That those who killed Madam Eunice Elisha Olawale while doing the morning preaching in Kubwa, Abuja, were Muslim fundamentalists, who were arrested but also freed by the Police?
“Is Lai Mohammed telling us that no Christian was killed by the Fulani herdsmen who invaded the Southern Kaduna, killed and maimed our members and razed down their communities recently?
“Is Mohammed saying the Fulani herdsmen, who have been killing our members are not armed with sophisticated weapons and is it wrong for us to ask where they get the AK-47 and other weapons they are using?
“When all those killings were going on in Plateau, Benue and Southern Kaduna, was there any time Lai Mohammed or anyone in the Federal Government raised up a voice against the atrocities?
“If those murderous Fulani herdsmen are faceless, how come the Sultan of Sokoto is claiming that they are not Nigerians and in another instance, the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, said they had been paid for the ‘wrong done to them’?
“Why is it that whenever these murderers are perpetrating their atrocities, the security agencies look elsewhere until their victims decided to fight back? Is it because the security agencies are Muslim dominated?
“CAN says no to disparaging remarks in the name of politics. Enough of these lies by Lai Mohammed.”
The statement was released after the minister claimed that violence in Nigeria is not religious, but political.
Speaking in Kwara, he said, “It is also important to note that the underlying principle of religious conflict may not be purely religious, but more often than not coloured with political connotations as vividly depicted in the case of the terrorist group Boko Haram.
And more often than not, conflicts between Muslims and Christians are fuelled by political motivations, ethnic differences, extremism, intolerance and terrorism.
Before I end my speech, let me appeal to the media to desist from providing a platform for
exponents of incendiary statements, those who will latch on to religion and ethnicity to divide us, and those who have no qualms about leveraging their privileged positions to give Nigeria a bad name in the international community.”