Kerry’s visit to Nigeria discriminatory, says CAN
• Chides DSS, police on Zamfara killings
• Cautions on breakdown of tolerance
The President of the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN), Rev. Supo Ayokunle, has faulted the recent visit to Nigeria by United States Secretary of State, John Kerry.
He described it as discriminatory and aimed at furthering agenda by the Federal Government to persecute the country’s Christians.
Kerry, during the two-day trip had, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, visited the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, and also met with the 19 northern governors.
In a statement in Abuja, yesterday, Ayokunle accused Kerry of not respecting the heterogeneous nature of the country, and favouring northern Nigeria and Muslims, to the detriment of the Christian community.
He said the Secretary of State’s attitude reinforced accusations that the President Obama administration and key US politicians openly supported the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2016 general elections.
Ayokunle said the visit sent a wrong message, alleging that Christians under the Buhari administration were under siege.
The CAN leader said: “Kerry’s actions speak volume. His actions and body language were very divisive. Why did he meet with 19 states governors, without southern governors? Is Nigeria north alone? Why did he go to the north alone? If the U.S. Secretary of States is coming for an official visit, it is understandable. But we demand an explanation on why he was selective. Has the Sultan’s palace become another State House? Was Kerry invited by the Sultan?
“We have 36 states in Nigeria. He only selected northern governors. It was a visit to the north, not to Nigeria. It was surely a very divisive visit. With it, Kerry has heightened fear and tension among Christians in the country. If they cannot bring us together, they should not interfere in our affairs.”
While condemning the killings of Christians in northern Nigeria, the CAN president said: “With the selective persecution, mostly by the Department of State Service (DSS) and the Nigerian Police, it is obvious the administration is anti-Christians. Have the DSS arrested the Muslim youths who burnt down a Catholic Church in Niger State because they were worshiping on Friday? What happened to the ECWA pastor who was killed in his farm in Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State? What has happened on the Redeemed Christian Church of God preacher who was murdered in Kubwa, Abuja?
“Look at the recent case in Zamfara State. Christians where burnt alive. What has happened? They will tell you, they are still investigating. Have they been arrested and charged to court? If the government cannot sit up and protect Christians, tolerance is going to break down. They should do the right thing. They should not provoke Christians. Have we ever seen this government bring anybody to book? A government that doesn’t listen is not for the people.”
Ayokunle urged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to, as a matter of urgency, intervene in the case of one Joe Chinakwe, who was arrested for naming his dog ‘Buhari’. He argued that naming an animal after anyone is not a criminal offence.
“The NBA should take up that case and ascertain whether the man has the right to give any name to a dog. They should protect the man’s human rights and explain why the case is not a criminal offence,” he said.