Published On: Thu, Aug 25th, 2016

Nigeria’s Christian Body Condemns John Kerry’s Meetings, Says It’s Discriminatory, Personal, Divisive

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By Sadiq Umar – The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has condemned the meetings of the United States’ Secretary of State, John Kerry with the Sultan and the 19 northern State Governors, describing it as “discriminatory, personal and divisive.”

John Kerry in Sokoto

The Christian umbrella body said the meeting by Mr. Kerry with Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar lll, who is the leader of Islam faith in Nigeria and the 19 northern governors, smacks lack of respect for the ethno-religious diversity of the country.

The President of CAN, Rev. Supo Ayokunle who spoke to journalists on Thursday, accused the U.S of favouring Muslims in Nigeria at the detriment of Christians community, asking it to stop interfering in the internal affairs of Nigeria.

“Why did he meet with 19 states governors, without southern governors, is Nigeria (sic) for the north alone, why did you go to the north alone?” he queried.

Adding that, “There is 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,” Rev. Ayokunle declared.

He said the meeting with only northern governors and Sultan corroborated the claims that the Barack Obama administration openly supported the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general elections.

The CAN President also accused the Buhari government of selective persecution of Christians, citing recent cases of attacks against persons of Christian faith

“On the government’s selective persecution of Christians mostly by the Department of State Service (DSS) and the Nigerian Police, it was obvious the administration was anti-Christians.”

“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, he pointed out.

“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.”

He urged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to as a matter of urgency intervene in the case of Joe Chinakwe who was arrested for naming his dog “Buhari,” arguing that, giving an animal human 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,” he added.

Mr. Kerry was on a two-day official visit to Nigeria on Monday and Tuesday where he met with President Buhari in Abuja, before traveling to Sokoto State.

While in Sokoto, Mr. Kerry met with the Sultan as well as the 19 northern state governors.

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