*It’s morally and spiritually reprehensible
*Christian Elders Forum accuses Ayokunle of reducing CAN to an appendage of APC
By Ngozi Ekhator
The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) being piloted by a former Minister of Defence, Lt-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) and Solomon Asemota (SAN), has faulted the “congratulatory” visit of the Christian Association of Nigeria to President Muhammadu Buhari on his purported victory in the 2019 general elections, describing it as “morally and spiritually reprehensible.”
The organisation specifically alleged that from “the ill-advised congratulatory visit to President Buhari”, which said amounted to subjudice, it should be clear to every Christian of good conscience that the President of CAN, Rev. Sampson Ayokunle “is running CAN as an appendage of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“NCEF is making these points for record purposes so that in years to come, if any further evil befalls Christianity in Nigeria, no one would claim ignorance of the issues that led to the emasculation of the Church. As Christian Elders, we affirm that it was ill-advised and ill-motivated for anyone claiming to represent the Body of Christ to rush to congratulate President Buhari pending the determination of the suit in Court”, the elders affirmed.
According to the elders, the action of the CAN President, Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, was a further confirmation of all their protests and petitions in 2018 querying his faithfulness to Christ and to His Church.
NCEF in a statement by Asemota (who is its chairman) entitled: “Not on our behalf, CAN President, Not on our behalf”, obtained by journalists in Abuja, said such visit was “subjudice” as the determination of who won the 2019 general election “is still in Court.”
Apart from Danjuma and Asemota, other members of NCEF included Prof. Joseph Otubu, Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (retd), Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Dr. (Mrs) Kate Okpareke, Dr. Ayo Abifarin, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd), Elder Moses Ihonde, Elder Nat Okoro and Elder Matthew Owojaiye.
Other members included Justice Kalajine Anigbogu (retd), Elder Shyngle Wigwe, DIG P. L. Dabup, Sir John W. Bagu, Dr. Saleh Hussaini, Elder Mike Orobator, Justice James Ogebe, JSC (retd), Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief Debo Omotosho, Dame Priscilla Kuye, Dr. S. D. Gani, Mrs. Osaretin Demuren, Prof. Yussuf Turaki; late former General Secretary of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake and Bosun Emmanuel (Secretary).
The statement reads: “It is therefore premature and presumptuous for anyone to congratulate President Buhari for “winning” an election that is contested in Court. The NCEF wishes to state that the congratulatory visit to Aso Villa by CAN could not be in the interest of Nigerian Christians who daily bear the agony of thousands of their brethren being killed, maimed, displaced and marginalized in the Jihad launched in the northern parts of the country.
“It is well known the indifference of the Buhari Administration to the murder of Christians all over the country. This indifference has led many, including foreign observers, to conclude that the Buhari administration is complicit in the genocide that is taking place in Nigeria.”
The elders recalled that in the 2018 report of NCEF entitled: “Factors hindering Christian Political Consensus for 2019 election”, the organisation provided irrefutable facts that Ayokunle deliberately frustrated Christian political consensus in a country in which religion has become a major factor in politics.
Asemota said, “With this ill-advised congratulatory visit to President Buhari, it should be clear to every Christian of good conscience that Rev. Ayokunle is running CAN as an appendage of APC which has proven by its religiously popularism biased appointments and policies that it is primarily a religious party that is to the disadvantage of Christians whom Rev. Ayokunle claims to be representing.
“It would be recalled that during the elections, Ayokunle presumptuously deployed a 1,000-man CAN election observers team to monitor the elections nationwide. The action was presumptuous since CAN does not have the constitutional responsibility of engaging in politics. Christian leaders deliberately established Christian Social Movement of Nigeria for this purpose in 2001 as the socio-political arm of the Church.
“Nonetheless, after observing the elections, the 1,000 man CAN election observers is yet to release its report before CAN rushed to congratulate one of the contestants. Since all the other observers have since released their reports, where is the report of the CAN observers team?
“NCEF noticed that a notable arm of the Church, the Catholic Church, did not join the delegation that went to congratulate President Buhari. This would be consistent with the communique issued by the Catholic Church expressing concern about the elections and advising that dissatisfied individuals should seek recourse in court of law. This in the view of NCEF is how a Christian body should respond to issues of this nature.
“Presently, Christians are mourning over 200 people murdered in Kajuru and Adara in southern Kaduna. There are increasing reports of clergy routinely kidnapped and murdered in Middle Belt and parts of the North. These are in addition to genocide in Benue, Taraba, Plateau, and other parts of southern Kaduna.
“So far, no arrest has been made and no one has been prosecuted. Therefore, for any Christian leader to go and shake the hand of the man who has done nothing to stop the genocide is morally and spiritually reprehensible.
“In addition to the concerns expressed above, it should be remembered that we all witnessed the debacles during the campaigns for the 2019 elections as well as the violent conduct of the elections. We witnessed the widespread application of “inconclusive” elections where the opposition party had upper hand.
“We saw with regret the way Kano, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Lagos, Taraba, Bayelsa, and Plateau states elections, amongst others, were handled. The campaign debate and Presidential interview exposed the competence and capability of the candidates and Nigerians spoke through their votes and expressed their preference.
“Therefore, the will of the people must not be subverted. It is wrong for anyone, or any group of people, to seek to use CAN to legitimize an illegality. That congratulatory visit, we insist, was not on behalf of Nigerian Christians.
“Fortunately for the NCEF, in making this clarification, no one can accuse the Christian elders of religious bigotry or ethnic discrimination since both front runners are Muslims from the North and of the same ethnic stock. In the same vein, no one could say that NCEF is holding brief for any political party since NCEF neither supported any political party nor adopted any candidate during the elections.
“The interest of NCEF is that democracy should be permitted to flourish and prevail in Nigeria. As President Goodluck Jonathan demonstrated in 2015, the will of the people must not be subverted. We are no longer in the era of military coup in which individual(s) can impose themselves as rulers over the nation.
“This is democracy and the will of the people must not be subverted. Any attempt to kill democracy by a President who subverts the very process that brought him to power under the instrumentality of stealth and conventional jihad must be resisted and rejected.
“NCEF aligns itself with the stand of the ethnic nationalities in South West, South East, South South and Middle Belt Zones that the Judiciary should perform its rightful oversight and ensure that the rightful winner of the 2019 election is sworn into office in May 29, 2019.
“If the Judiciary, for whatever reason, is unable to take a stand and defend the will of the people then Nigeria would have destroyed democracy and signed on as a fascist state.
“Now is the time for every man of good conscience to rise and speak. It is no use waiting for an illegality to be stamped upon the country before people would start complaining. Government should not be permitted to become illegitimate in Nigeria. This is the time to stand up and speak out. In this season, silence is not golden.”