In a recent statement, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) called on the Federal Government to intervene on the clampdown on Nigerian churches.
The statement was issued in Abuja by Pastor Bayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant on Media and Communication of CAN.
“We call on the acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to intervene in all the clampdown on the Church in Nigeria after all, he is in the office primarily to represent the interest of the Christians.’’
CAN noted that Section 38 to 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, clearly stated that every Nigerian is entitled to freedom of thought, association and religion.
“Freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
“The Constitution also states unambiguously every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests:
“Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit there.’’
CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, noted that Christains have not recovered from the genocide carried out by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Southern Kaduna Christian community, Jigawa State Government began to pull down Churches with impunity.
He added that operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) invaded a hotel where Apostle Johnson Suleiman was lodged, insisting that he must surrender himself for arrest in Ekiti State.
“But for the timely intervention of the management of the hotel and other well-meaning Nigerians around, the invasion could have resulted into bloodshed as Suleiman was there with some MOPOL men and military officers.’’
“If there is an urgent need to interrogate him on any issue, it will be proper to extend a formal or informal invitation to him from the DSS rather than Gestapo approach.
“It should be noted that under Nigerian Laws, he is presumed innocent until a court of law proves otherwise.
“Have they extended the proposed obnoxious law that forbids religious preaching without the permission of the state governor down south too?”
Rev. Ayokunle noted that despite all promises made by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, none of the Fulani herdsmen who committed the genocide have been arrested.
He stated further that suspects who killed Christians in Kano and Abuja last year were even released eventually.
“It is high time the overzealous security agencies knew that Nigeria remained a secular state.
“Any attempt to turn the country into a refugee camp for Christians will not be acceptable and will be resisted with every lawful means.