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CAN tackles El-Rufai over plot to arrest cleric

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja) and Michael Egbejule (Benin City)
27 December 2018   |   4:24 am
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has cautioned Kaduna State Governor El-Rufai against carrying out his threat to arrest and arraign Abuja-based cleric, Dr. Paul Eneche.

Dr. Paul Eneche

• Condemns ‘unfounded allegation of hate speech’
• PFN president scores APC govt low

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has cautioned Kaduna State Governor El-Rufai against carrying out his threat to arrest and arraign Abuja-based cleric, Dr. Paul Eneche.

The warning followed the emergence of a video clip of the founder and Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Gospel Centre.

During a recent visit to the state by Minister of Information Lai Mohammed, El-Rufai was quoted as saying: “There was a clip going round, a pastor in Abuja that said I was the one that arranged the abduction and murder of the Agom of Kachia. I have filed a complaint to the Inspector General of Police. We intend to bring him to Kaduna to try him.

“The clip was circulated in Kaduna and he is in Abuja. We will get him. We know the agents of this kind of careless statements. And what is most unfortunate is that the guiltiest are people that we assume should be responsible – pastors, imams and very important people in the society.”

The governor added: “The recent crisis we had in Kaduna metropolis in Kasuwan Magani was largely a result of hate speech. The second round of crisis was because rumours started circulating that the abducted chief of Agada had been killed and within an hour 22 people were killed and it was totally false.”

But in a statement yesterday, CAN said while it would continue to condemn hate speeches by religious leaders and other Nigerians, it would not stand and watch its respected leaders being set up for molestation, humiliation and prosecution over an unfounded allegation of hate speech.

CAN President Rev. Dr Samson Ayokunle said: “Let the government define clearly the difference between what is considered hate speech and advocacy for dying victims of continuous killings in Nigeria. What do you expect from a church leader whose members and fellow citizens are being killed daily without any satisfactory measure to abate the killings? Are we to keep clapping for the government while people are being massacred in cold blood?

“While we appreciate the fact that no government will want her citizens to be killed, we will admonish Governor El-Rufai to channel his strength towards getting the sponsors and perpetrators of the heinous crimes going on in Kaduna State arrested and prosecuted rather than chasing good Nigerians who are contributing immensely to the peace, growth and development of the nation.”

He asked: “Why is it easier for the El-Rufai government to know and get ‘agents of careless statements’ but almost impossible for it to identify the Kaduna killing agents despite years of such continuous killings? Have the killers of Agom Adara Dr. Maiwada Raphael Galadima been apprehended? How long will it take Governor El-Rufai to apprehend them?”

He said further: “The polity is already heated up and polarised along ethnic and religious divides. All of us in leadership have had an inappropriate news item carried or published about us before; it is part of the burden of leadership. The best that could be done in such a circumstance is for the governor to debunk inaccurate news items like he has done.

“On the basis of the above, we again caution that care must be taken in handling what Pastor Paul Enenche read, which he wanted people to pray over. The idea of making Christians endangered species must stop for the sake of peace and unity of this country. We have had enough of troubles in this nation in the past years. We deserve to have our peace.”

National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Felix Omobude meanwhile has scored the performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration low, concluding: “There has been no positive change.”

Asked in a recent interview with The Guardian to rate the current government on security and provision of social amenities, Omobude said: “Let me call on the Nigerian populace to learn to hold government accountable, especially when they come to you and promise you what they would do if you vote for them. When you vote for them, ask them, ‘you promised xyz, why have you not delivered?

“When this government came in, $1 was about N170 in 2015. What is it today? It is N360 to $1. Whether that is a pass mark is left for Nigerians to judge. When this government came in, without being sensational, Nigerians were buying petrol at N87. What is it today? Is that the change that we wanted?

“When this government came in, some local governments were still under the control of Boko Haram. And to their credit, at least, from what I hear, no local government is currently under the total control of insurgency, and I give them credit for that.

“But, between you and I, are you getting electricity better today than in 2015? I live in the G.R.A. I spend much more, now, running my generator set than what it was in 2015. This is the truth. I am not saying this to fault the government but this is the bitter truth. There has been no positive change!

“If the exchange is now N360 to 1$ and the wages of workers have not been increased, technically, today’s worker is getting less than 50 per cent of what they got in 2015. That is the truth.”