The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has threatened that there would be war in Nigeria if Leah Sharibu dies in captivity. Some of the demonstrations being staged around the country by CAN have been linked to this development.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is irked by this odd threat. It is unbecoming of men in the house of God to issue threats which are likely to lead to massive bloodshed. It is irrational, infantile and ungodly.
The leaders of CAN want to give cheap victory to Boko Haram. We do not need an expert in international diplomacy to interprete the scenario on ground. Boko Haram is using every available means to cause a war between Nigerian Christians and their Muslim neighbours. That was clear in the initial attacks on churches. CAN leaders swallowed the bait at that time and they started accusing Muslims of sponsoring Boko Haram. Muslim leaders were patient.
CAN did not stop accusing Muslim leaders of connivance until they saw that Boko Haram was actually killing more Muslims than Christians. This Leah Sharibu incident is Boko Haram’s last card along the same mission and we expect CAN leaders to know better. But CAN cannot. CAN has its own political agenda. Or does it really make sense? The hoodlums abducted girls and released all except the only Christian in their midst. It is part of the terrorists’ propaganda. They are anarchists seeking to throw the nation into higeldy-pigeldy. Can’t CAN get it?
We strongly suspect that CAN is deliberately creating a conundrum. Leah Sharibu was abducted. Who abducted her? Boko Haram. Muslim leaders have rejected Boko Haram. Muslims are also victims of Boko Haram. CAN now wants war. Against who? Against Muslims. Is it logical? Does it make sense at all? CAN is playing into the hands of Boko Haram. It would have made a little sense if CAN had said, “Boko Haram refused to release Lear Sharibu. Therefore we are going after Boko Haram insurgents. Sambisa Forest here we come.”
The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’d Abubakar, said ab initio that Boko Haram and all terrorists are evil. He called on all Nigerians to join hands with him to fight this evil. But now instead of fighting the transparent evil, CAN wants to fight the Muslims. We assure CAN that millions of Muslims will join if it makes a more responsible statement like asking Muslims to join Christians in invading Boko Haram hideouts in Sambisa. MURIC is ready for that.
We are constrained to ask what kind of neighbours are CAN leaders? Why are they always threatening fire and brimstone? Is this bully complex compatible with the pastoral profession? Is it acceptable as a quality among religionists? We call the attention of the whole world to the belligerent attitude of Nigeria’s Christian leaders. The rest of the world should take note now so that it will be clear who is stoking the fire of war.
CAN appears to be having a conflict of identity with its mission and vission running riots. Religious leaders are not expected to behave like young students seeking attention. We can understand when student leaders call for aluta but elderly men in cassock singing songs of war calls for serious introspection in order to avoid, among other things, the concomitant loss of respect even among followers.
Come to think of it, where was CAN when General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) as head of state ordered the killing of Odi/ Zaki Biam people? Where was CAN during the tenure of ex-president Jonathan when Boko Haram killed hundreds of Muslims and displaced thousands in the North East? Was CAN on sabbatical when hundreds were killed in the recurring Plateau communal killings before 2015? Were those thousands of lives lost during those periods not worth protesting for?
So CAN can make noise now because a Muslim is in power? But CAN could look the other way when Christians were in power, particularly when the billions were flowing in the immediate past regime and Jerusalem trips were shorter than walks from home to church? We can understand this particularly now that the pecuniary tap in Aso Rock is dry.
Instead of threatening war, the responsible thing to do as religious leaders is to dialogue with the government of the day in order to know its challenges. CAN is behaving as if the arsenal of weapons brought in via several clandestine flights in Jonathan’s days are yearning for use. All we heard was that one flight to South Africa scandalized Jonathan and Ayo Oritsejafor, the former president of CAN. We have evey reason to believe that several other flights had been successful before then and even after the exposure. Only those who have been preparing for war against their neighbours for years will be so bellicose and so daring.
MURIC does not issue threats but nobody under the sun can make us tremble. It is not in our character. We face our destiny as Allah has designed it. Neither do we plot evil against our neighbours. We are ever willing to coexist peacefully with our Christian neighbours. Different faiths should not be the cause for hostilities. We have so many things in common. Humanity is numero uno among those things we have in common. Afterall we are all from Adam and Adam was from ordinary dust.
We call on world leaders, the US, Britain, etc, to note the excesses of Nigerian Christian leaders. In particular, we invite Christian leaders in the West African subregion to counsel their brothers-in-Christ. We call for prayers for the innocent girl, Leah Sharibu. Let us pray that Allah will veer the terrorists’ minds towards setting her free within a very short time. Let us pray for her safety. Let us also pray for the safe return of the remaining Chibok girls.
Before we round up, we plead with Christians from all walks of life to make CAN leadership see reason. What do they want to gain from war? The leaders of CAN should also be told to put their own children in the forefront when the war they threaten breaks out. CAN should stop all these attention-seeking gimmicks. We charge CAN to wage its war against Boko Haram ‘the evil’ and not against innocent, law-abiding and peace-loving Muslims. Aso Rock’s current landlord has no billions to doll out. Unlike his predecessor, he does not spray public money.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)