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NSCIA cautions CAN over National Assembly’s leadership


[FILES] National Assembly (NASS)

The call for religious balancing in the election and appointment of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has drawn the irk of its Muslim counterpart – the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).

The Muslim group in a statement signed by its Deputy Secretary-General, Salisu Shehu, described CAN’s demand as indecorous, ill-advised, ill-motivated and only aimed at polarising the country.

With such posturing, NSCIA said it would be better for CAN to metamorphose into a political party.

A statement earlier issued by CAN through Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant on Media and Communication to the association’s President, Olasupo Ayokunle, urged the newly elected members of the 9th National Assembly to “avoid domination and marginalisation of any kind in the interest of equity, justice, and fair play,” especially in the election and appointment of principal officers including Senate President, Speaker and their deputies.

CAN noted in its statement that its suggestion is enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Although both the Senate and the House of Representatives have several principal officers, our focus here are the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker,” the Christian body said.

“As it has been the practice since 1999, whenever the Senate President is a Christian, the Speaker of the House has always been a Muslim and vice- versa. And the same thing happens to their deputies.”
But responding, NSCIA said it was surprised by CAN’s reference to Constitutional provisions to back its claim, asking whether the

Constitution was not in use when Goodluck Jonathan, David Mark, Ike Ekweremadu and Justice Katsina Alu served in the same administration as President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President and Chief Justice respectively.

The statement reads in part; “Given the trajectory of the recent activities of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), like other informed groups and people in Nigeria, cannot but wonder whether CAN still remains a religious body or a political party in a religious garb. T

he Council is persuaded to believe the latter because of the Association’s posture as the counterfoil for and opposition to everything Islam and Muslims in this country.

“We cannot also but wonder whether Islamophobia has indeed not replaced the more important responsibility of giving direction to millions of our compatriots who are law-abiding citizens of the Christian faith. It is really benumbing that CAN appears to be giving credence and relevance to the rhetorical question asked centuries ago: “if gold rust, what should iron do?”

NSCIA further traced the leadership of the nation’s National Assembly prior to 1999, saying the chronicle has always shown imbalance to the detriment of Muslims.

According to the statement, the Muslim group said it welcomed the reference to constitutional provisions by its Christian counterpart, urging the federal government to conduct a census of all ministries, departments and agencies of government including higher institutions and see whether Muslims would constitute up to 30 per cent of principal officers.

NSCIA also condemned the composition of the National Peace Committee and the alleged disposition of many of its members against Islam and Muslims.

It accused the CAN leadership of preaching hatred against Muslims and advised the religious group to desist from causing confusion and divisions based on what it described as personal and selfish interest.

It also accused CAN leadership of mounting pressure on judges on the election petition appeal panels to tilt the scales of judgements in favour of Christian candidates, and advised the judges to be fair and firm in the execution of their tasks.

“It is hypocritical for CAN and its alter egos to claim to be on the side of justice by forming the ‘National Peace Committee’ which is not surprisingly dominated by Christian clergymen. The pretense of the ‘Peace Committee’ had been exposed by the various comments/actions of their prominent members.

For instance, a member, prior to the last election, took a partisan posture masquerading as a good doer and incited the people of Southern Kaduna against the government while another member, despite his level of education, could not avail himself of historical facts but rather chose to spit the dummy that ‘the low turnout at the gubernatorial election was a loud protest against the outcome of the 2019 presidential polls.’ All these are not surprising as it is on record that CAN itself had maliciously referred to President Muhammadu Buhari as a ‘bad product.’

“The NSCIA is also well-informed of the surreptitious pressure CAN is mounting on Christian judges serving in the various election petition tribunals across the country, under a pseudo-Christian organization, to ensure the victory of Christians and/or their sympathizers,” the statement added.

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