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Ortom cautions against muzzling of Nigerians as PFN, rep flay Kukah’s critics

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[FILES] Samuel Ortom. Photo: IREPORTERS

• MURIC asks Catholic priest to resign from peace panel
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has again urged the Federal Government against muzzling Nigerians with genuine concerns over the nation’s worsening security situation.

He described as unfair and repressive government’s reaction to the Christmas message of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Kukah, whom it accused of stirring hatred against President Muhammadu Buhari and calling for forceful regime change.

The governor, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said “Bishop Kukah is a selfless Nigerian who only seeks to unite the nation and speaks his mind frankly on national issues by calling on the government to serve the people.”

He suggested that instead of politicising the message and castigating the messenger, government should take a second look at the issues raised to avoid throwing the baby away with the bathwater.

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Ortom stressed that Nigeria was practising democracy, a system that guarantees freedom of speech as opposed to military rule, which forbids the people from entertaining contrary views.

The governor maintained that it was incumbent on government to accommodate shades of opinion for lasting solutions to the country’s myriad of challenges rather than being combative.

He said at these trying times, the people expected their leaders to be tolerant, patient, humane, sincere and open to issues of shared interests among Nigerians.

Ortom asserted that Kukah’s remarks were true reflection of the reality in the country, urging the President to be wary of sycophants.

He stated that the Catholic priest was not the first to say that hundreds of innocent Nigerians were being killed in cold blood by bandits, kidnappers, herdsmen and terrorists.

The governor pointed out that even under the worst dictatorships, courageous citizens expressed their views on issues of national interest.

According to him, great nations of the world got to their enviable heights by harnessing and utilising ideas of their citizens.

BESIDES, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and the member representing Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency of Kogi State in the House of Representatives, Teejay Yusuf, have chided those casting aspersions on the cleric over his position on governance in Nigeria.

Addressing newsmen on the state of the nation yesterday in Benin City, Edo State, PFN President, Rev. (Dr.) Felix Omobude, said the Catholic cleric was only telling truth to power, and should not be made sacrificial lamb.

He described as unacceptable the “incessant move by those in power in attacking men of God in their constructive criticism of the issues affecting the country.”

In a statement, the federal lawmaker observed that the needless attacks reflect untold hypocrisy and double standards.

Yusuf noted that many of those attacking Kukah had extended family members who daily face insecurity, unemployment and poverty worse than what obtained six years ago.

“Bishop Matthew Kukah’s decision to speak truth to power was applauded during the Goodluck Jonathan era, but is now being mischievously misinterpreted as a call for insurrection,” the legislator, who is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), added.

MEANWHILE, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has called on Kukah to recuse himself from the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee.

Its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, insisted in a statement yesterday, that anything to the contrary could discredit the panel.

He claimed that the bishop’s pronouncements were inconsistent with his status, particularly as secretary of the committee.

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