The Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) on Thursday criticised the United States Secretary of States, Mr John Kerry, for allegedly excluding Christians during his visit to the Sultan of Sokoto, saying it is discriminatory.
CAN leadership therefore, warned him to stop interfering in the internal affairs of the country, saying the visit was aimed at furthering the federal government’s plan to continue to persecute the teeming population of Nigerian Christians.
Kerry’s two-day visit has attracted condemnation from Christian leaders who question his sincerity during the visit.
Kerry, during the visit had only visited the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, met with the 19 northern governors, whom only three are Christians. At the Presidential Villa, where Kerry was hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari, met with select northern governors, which also irked critics on the selection process of his hosts.
The President of CAN, Rev. Dr. Supo Ayokunle, in an interview with journalists said Kerry’s lack of respect to the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria, amounted to favouring northern Nigeria and Muslims to the detriment of the Christian community.
According to Ayokunle, the attitude and disposition of the Secretary of States and the discrimination he adopted during the visit supports accusations that the President Barack Obama’s administration, alongside Kerry and other strategic US politicians in the Obama’s government openly supported the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2016 general elections, which produced the current leadership of the country.
While calling on Kerry to “stop interfering in Nigerian affairs”, CAN president explained that the visit was a complete flop and exposed Kerry’s negligence of Nigeria’s unity in diversity ideology that has remained the bedrock of the country.“Why did he meet with 19 states governors, without southern governors, is Nigeria the north alone, why did you go to the north alone?”
Ayokunle stated that visit sends a wrong message, affirming the report that Christians under the Buhari’s administration are under a siege. “There’s a siege on Christians. Kerry, his actions speak volume, his actions, body language were very divisive.
“If US Secretary of States is coming for official visit, it’s understandable, but we demand explanation why he was selective. Has the Sultan Palace become another State House? Was Kerry invited by the Sultan?
“We have 36 States in Nigeria; he only selected northern governors to meet with them. It was a visit to the north, not to Nigeria. It was surely a very divisive visit. With the visit to the north, Kerry’s visit has heightened fear and tension among Christians in Nigeria, if they cannot bring us together, they should not interfere in our affairs”
Speaking against the perennial killing of Christians in northern Nigeria, The CAN president said, based on government the selective persecution of Christians mostly by the Department of State Service (DSS) and the Nigerian Police, it was obvious the administration was anti-Christians.
He said: “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 have happened with Redeemed 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 them 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?”
The CAN president tasked President Buhari “to come out clean”, adding that, “a government that doesn’t listen is not for the people.”
Ayokunle maintained that while the DSS and the Police have been slow in arresting extremists killing Christians in the country, they have been fast persecuting Christians.
The CAN leader called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to as a matter of urgency intervene in the case of Mr Joe Chinakwe who was arrested for naming his dog ‘Buhari’. He argued that, naming an animal with somebody’s name is never 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 come and protect the man’s human rights and set the record why the case is not a criminal offence”, Ayokunle stated.