A group, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA), has accused the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, of incitement of religious violence against the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Right Reverend Mathew Hassan Kukah. The group, therefore, demanded the arrest of Garba Shehu by thew federal government.
HURIWA in a statement by the National coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, wondered why neither the Department of State Services (DSS) or the Nigeria Police Force has not arrested Garba Shehu and the lead signatory of the direct threat on the life of Bishop Kukah, one Professor Isa Muhammedu Maishenu, of the Muslim Solidarity Forum Sokoto. The group said the decision to pamper individuals inciting violence, such as the duo, is the reason Nigeria is overwhelmingly violent and the lives of citizens are wasted even as the perpetrators of violence and their sponsors are left to walk free. The group said the Country may not survive for too long should heads of security forces be picking and choosing who to arrest or not no matter their levels of lawlessness and threats to public peace. The group said the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese of the Catholic Church has done nothing wrong other than to exercise his fundamental human rights by criticising failings of government just as the group said it was inconceivable that a Presidential Spokesman can descend to the arena of religious extremism by ascribing wrong meanings and interpretation to statement made by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese to a religion sect in the country.
“Why is the Spokesperson of the Nigerian President directly asserting that the constructive criticism of some bad policies of the Federal government as made in the exercise of his fundamental Human Rights by Bishop Kukah, amounts to an insult against a respected Islamic religion, Is Garba Shehu implying that President Muhammedu Buhari is the chief Imam of Nigeria or is he above criticism? The irrational, insensitive, senseless and pathetic statement in the media credited to Garba Shehu amounts to a call on religious fundamentalists to attack the person of Bishop Bukah and this is definitely a clear incitement to violence which should attract the attention of security services unless these security services have also been transformed into Islamic religious security forces. We call on the relevant heads of the security forces to immediately arrest, investigate and prosecute Garba Shehu and one professor Maishanu for inter-religious conflicts in Nigeria,” the statement read in part.
HURIWA recalled that Garba Shehu had stated that: “Father Kukah has greatly offended many with his controversial remarks against the government and the person of the President, with some even accusing him of voicing anti-Islamic rhetoric.
“On matters such as these, responsible leadership in any society must exercise restraint. Knee-jerk reactions will not only cause the fraying of enduring relationships, but also the evisceration of peaceful communities such as Sokoto, the headquarters of the Muslim community as beacon of pluralism and tolerance. The Sultanate has historically had good relations with followers of all faiths. That is why Father Kukah was received on his arrival in Sokoto with friendship and tolerance”.
HURIWA said the counter statement made by Garba Shehu pretending to be a warning to the Sokoto based Muslim Forum which earlier in a statement asked Kukah to leave Sokoto, are the same, as the group said the entire World would hold President Muhammadu Buhari responsible should any physical harm come to the respected religious Icon- Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese.