TEXT OF AN ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CAN) REV. SAMSON OLASUPO AYOKUNLE (PHD) AT A MEETING WITH THE US CONGRESS ON TUESDAY 28TH MARCH, 2017 IN WASHINGTON D.C. USA.
Tuesday 28th March, 2017
Distinguished members of the US Congress,
Ladies and Gentlemen
We are constrained by the relentless fatal attacks on Christians and Christian communities in Nigeria to raise an international outcry against the genocide that is going on in Nigeria by Islamist sponsored religious insurgents. As at the last count, over 13,000 Christian places of worship have been destroyed in the Northern parts of the country alone while Christian casualties run into tens of thousands. According to a statement by the Borno State Governor, Mr. Kashim Shettima, Boko Haram has murdered over 100,000 Nigerians.
Most of these victims are Christians. This figure does not include the murderous assaults of the Fulani Herdsmen who, under the guise of nomadic cattle rustling has left a trail of blood, rape, arson and murder all over the country, particularly in Christian populated areas. The Fulani herdsmen have turned Christian populated southern Kaduna, and indeed the entire Christian Middle Belt, into killing fields. Their foray has led into the Christian East and parts of the West in the country. It was reported in the news that in February 2017, the US Congress acknowledged that Nigeria is currently the most dangerous nation in the world for anyone to be a Christian.
The situation is made worse by the seeming complacency of the present Government in power to tackle the ongoing genocide. Rather than fulfill its Constitutional role of protecting the lives of the citizens of Nigeria, the Federal Government has been very passive and tepid in its response to the ongoing massacre of Nigerian citizens. Section 14 (1)b of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government:” It is sad to note that the Buhari Administration has predictably fallen short of this Constitutional provision having arrogated to the Hausa/Fulani ethnic group the entire security apparatus in Nigeria.
Presently, all the sensitive Security positions in the country are headed by Muslims from the North. These positions include: Ministers of Defense, Internal Affairs, National Security Adviser (NSA), Director General of the State Security Services (SSS), Inspector General of Police (IGP), Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Comptroller-General of Customs and Head of Immigration. Without any doubt, these sectional appointments violate the Federal Character Principle in Section 14(3) of the Constitution of Nigeria which states, “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
Having unconstitutionally zoned the entire security infrastructure to northern Muslims, it is not unexpected that there is no peace in the nation, particularly in the North. The only conclusion we are left to draw, is that these security positions are designed to intimidate and subjugate non-Islamist Nigerians in total disregard of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution on Human Rights which the Islamists regard as blasphemous. In Islam, humans have no rights, as all rights belong to Allah and this is responsible for ignoring of Court orders etc, in the promotion of the superiority of Islam over and above the Constitution notwithstanding the fact that Islamists contribute little to the common wealth of Nigeria.
JIHAD IN NIGERIA
Globally, there is terror alert and Islamist insurgents are spreading fear and insecurity in many nations. The present global Islamist religious insurgency started in March 1928 when Hassan Al-Banna founded the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt. The Islamic Brotherhood has two objectives viz:
- To implement Sharia worldwide; and
- To re-establish the global Islamic state known as the Caliphate
The creed of the Islamic Brotherhood is: “Allah is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.” All the Islamic terrorist organizations (including Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen), subscribe to the creed and the objectives of the Islamic Brotherhood.
Nigeria is a strategic partner of USA on the African continent. If radical Islamism is permitted to take over Nigeria, it would severely affect the long term strategic national interest of USA on the continent of Africa.
It is, however, necessary to point out that there is a difference between Islam and Islamism. While Islam is a religion, Islamism is a political ideology that holds that Islam must dominate every society in which it is represented. That is why Islamism is also referred to as “Political Islam”. Islamism/Political Islam is based on the Wahhabist and Salafist ideologies that have root in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know when a Muslim transits from practicing Islam as religion to the extreme and intolerant Islamism especially when a Sultanate already exists in Nigeria. In a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and secular society like Nigeria, such discriminatory ideology breeds nothing but intolerance, hate, and destruction as we witness today.
Islamist ideology was imported into Nigeria by the late Sheik Gumi and it kicked off in Nigeria in 1975 with the overthrow of General Yakubu Gowon. Since then, there have been surreptitious moves to transmute Nigeria into a Sharia governed nation. The present distress is part of the sinister agenda to change the national ideology of Nigeria from Liberal Democracy into Sharia ideology and the country into an Islamic State.
The Jihadists operate in two ways:
- Violent Jihad e.g. Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Al Shabab, and all the others.
- Civilization Jihad (Stealth Jihad)
The Stealth Jihad is the conversation form of the agitation that rationalizes the destruction of the violent jihadists and uses dialogue to lull unsuspecting societies and individuals into slumber and a false sense of security while the violent jihadists continue to plan and operate unabated. This clarification is necessary because a lot of unsuspecting Christians, and even moderate Muslims, are apologist for the Jihadists not fully realizing that they have become victims of Stealth Jihad. In the language of the Islamists, this is “Taqiyya”, or approved deception in the course of fighting Jihad.
NIGERIA IS A DEMOCRACY
Nigeria obtained independence on the basis that Liberal Democracy shall be the National Ideology of the country. Presently, Nigeria practices the USA Presidential system of government. The founding fathers of the nation rightly concluded that an all-inclusive ideology like democracy is required for a multi-cultural and secular society like Nigeria. The nation is meant to uphold the Constitution as the source of legislation in order to guarantee Justice, Equality and Fairness. Unfortunately, Islamists in Nigeria are progressively undermining the Constitution and subtly transforming Sharia into the National Ideology and the source of legislation. Careful observers can detect consistent violations of the Constitution by the Buhari Administration. The practice is not a mistake; it is by design.
We are calling on international community, to join us in defense of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Even though the present document is flawed and in urgent need of replacement, it still remains the source of legislation in the country which must not be compromised in any way.
Nigeria is a Democracy. Nigeria shall remain a DEMOCRACY.
HARASSMENT OF CHRISTIAN LEADERS BY SSS
In the past few weeks, there has been an escalation of intimidation of Christian leaders in the country by the State Security Service (SSS). A notable episode was the attempted abduction of Apostle Johnson Suleiman which was foiled by the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
Shortly after, the SSS pounced on the Trustees of the CAN Trust Fund and sought to subject them to intimidation and harassment over a video clip mobilizing Christian support for Christian victims of religious insurgency in northern Nigeria. But for the timely intervention of CAN, no one knows what the SSS had in mind for these distinguished and eminent Nigerians.
We wish to state that the State Security Service (SSS), and all the other Security units are established to protect Nigerians and not to promote Jihad. These Security Units, most of which are now headed by Muslims from the North, exhibit outrageous discrimination and high-handedness against Christians and Christian communities in a condemnable manner that is unbecoming of their profession and oath of office.
We recall the murder of Shiites in Kaduna, the murder of IPOB supporters in Aba and Onitsha, as well as the wanton murder in Port Harcourt of some Nigerians celebrating the victory of Mr. Donald Trump as the President of USA. All these are rather troubling signals that the Nigerian Security Units are becoming adversaries of the very people they are hired and paid to protect.
ABDUCTION OF CHRISTIAN GIRLS
Habiba Ishaku, 14 years old, from Wawa Kaza in Kankara Local Government Area, Katsina State disappeared on the 16th of August 2016 from her home where she lived with her parents. Soon after her disappearance, Jamilu Lawal sent emissaries to her parents proposing to marry her. These emissaries confirmed, to Habiba’s parents, that she was in the custody of Jamilu. Her parents declined the request and demanded the immediate release of their daughter who is still in the Secondary School, and whose ambition was to further her education.
Till date, Habiba is yet to be released and is still in the house of her abductor, Jamilu Lawal, who, according to our findings, has been married to her. We find it curious that when Habiba’s parents solicited for the release of their daughter from the Emir of Katsina, they were told that she is now a convert of Islam and that, by Islamic injunction she could be married out to any person having seen her menstrual cycle. The Emir therefore informed the parents that they no longer have a voice in the matter as he has given out Habiba to Jamilu in marriage, being the father of all Muslims in his emirate. It is our view that the action of the Emir is tantamount to institutionalizing criminality and marriage by brute force contrary to all civilized norms and Section 35 of the Constitution which guarantees Habiba’s liberty; and Section 38 which guarantees her liberty to a religion of choice which cannot be taken away, as a minor, without the consent of her parents.
It is sad to note that all parties that went to court to secure the release of Habiba have withdrawn their cases. Habiba herself wrote to the court dissociating herself from the lawsuit by claiming that she was 18 years old. We wonder how a 14 year old girl in 2016 can suddenly grow to 18 years in 2017. This is clearly a case of intimidation and oppression.
We cited this case to underscore the criminality in the abduction of underage Christian girls in northern Nigeria and their forceful marriage to Muslim men. This barbaric and backward practice in the 21st Century must stop. It is a violation of the fundamental human rights of these girls and disregard to the Constitution.
Christians in Nigeria still demand the release of Habiba as well as that of the other abducted Christian girls forcefully married to Muslims. It is unfair, unjust, and criminal.
THE NEED FOR CHANGE
A society will prosper and be in peace if Justice, Equality, and Fairness are pursued and practiced. Any society that does otherwise, will inherit nothing but chaos, confusion and destruction. Nigeria is a great country, endowed with both human and mineral resources. What is lacking in the country is genuine mutual acceptance and respect.
There are two key factors responsible for much of the violence emanating from the northern parts of the country:
- The Doctrine of Hate preached in many Mosques and Madrassas
- The Supremacist ideology
As followers of Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace, The Christian Association of Nigeria pleads with all Nigerian Citizens, instead of hate, let there be love, and instead of a feeling of supremacy, let there be humility. The Bible teaches, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Philippians 2: 3-4)
- Every appointment by the Federal Government that violates the Federal Character Principle should be nullified. If there is no equality, there can be no peace. Every appointment must reflect Constitutional balance. Of particular interest are the Security and Educational sectors. The current sectional and discriminatory appointments, coupled with the insecurity that accompanied it, has confirmed the wisdom of the Constitution that there must be Federal Character in appointments.
- There should be an immediate nationwide arrest and prosecution of members of the Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. Both the sponsors and the perpetrators should be brought to justice and judgment.
- There should be an immediate implementation of the Report of the 2014 National Conference. Christians in Nigeria constitute over 50% of the population and we demand the implementation of the Confab Report.
- Nigeria requires the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal the wounds in the nation and set forth a basis for national reconciliation.
- Nigeria requires the setting up of a Constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution for the nation that would address the yearnings and the aspirations of the ethnic nationalities.
- The clarion call in the nation is for restructuring. We identify with this call and urge that immediate steps should commence to restructure Nigeria so that true fiscal Federalism can be practiced for the benefit of all Nigerians.
- The Security Services and, in particular, the SSS, should desist from harassing and intimidating Christian leaders in the country. The Intelligence Services are meant to protect Nigerians and not to act in the promotion of Jihad. The SSS should apologize for harassing the Trustees of the CAN Trust Fund as well as Apostle Johnson Suleiman.
- We recommend that the Federal Government should either set up or empower an Agency that will address cases of abduction of underage girls forced into marriage. This is the 21st Century. While the rest of the world is marching forward, Nigeria should not be marching backwards.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen for your kind attention.
God bless Nigeria.
Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, PhD
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
March 28, 2017