CAN To Osinbajo: Your Silence Despite Attack On Christians Unacceptable

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The Christian Association of Nigeria has expressed concern over the continuous persecution of its members, particularly pastors, and demanded that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo should intervene in the clampdown on churches because “his studied silence is no longer golden.”

While threatening to resist any attempt to turn Nigeria to a refugee camp for Christians, CAN in strong terms condemned the harassment of Apostle Johnson Suleiman of Omega Fire Ministries by the Department of State Services in Ekiti State, and other Christians.

The position of CAN was contained in a statement issued on behalf of its President, Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, by his Special Assistant (Media and Communication), Adebayo Oladeji, in Abuja.

CAN also raised the alarm that Apostle Suleiman “has become a refugee in Ekiti as security men are said to be searching every nook and cranny of the state with a view to arresting him.”

CAN said, “It is high time the overzealous security agencies knew that Nigeria remains a secular state and any attempt to turn the country into a refugee camp for Christians will not be acceptable and will be resisted with every lawful means.

“We call on the Acting President, Professor 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 and his studied silence is no longer golden.

“Why we have yet to recover from the genocide in Southern Kaduna by the murderous Fulani herdsmen and its attendant consequences, the Jigawa State Government began the pulling down of our churches with impunity.

“As if that was not enough, some operatives from the DSS reportedly invaded a hotel in Ekiti on Tuesday where Apostle Johnson Suleiman and his team who were in the state capital for a crusade were lodging.

“According to what we heard, they insisted on remaining in the hotel until Apostle Johnson Suleiman surrendered himself for arrest. 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 the minister of God was there with some MOPOL men and officers. Apostle Suleiman has become a refugee in Ekiti State as security operatives are said to be searching every nook and cranny of the state with a view to arresting him.”

According to CAN, if there is an urgent need to interrogate Apostle Suleiman on any issue, it would only have been proper to extend a formal or informal invitation to him by the DSS, rather than the Gestapo approach used in the attempt to arrest him.

CAN wondered if the DSS had extended the proposed “obnoxious” law which forbids religious preaching without the permission of the state government being spearheaded by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State.

CAN said, “Treating ministers of God and our members as common criminals is unacceptable to CAN. Enough is enough! Despite all the promises made by Governor Nasir el-Rufai, none of those who were responsible for the killings of our members in the Southern Kaduna has been brought to book. Instead, the police have been releasing those who were arrested for the killing of our members in Kano and Kubwa (Abuja) while our leaders are being subjected to untold hardship for just no cause.

“The last time we checked, Sections 38-41 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) state clearly that every Nigerian is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including 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 states unambiguously that 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.”