CAN accuses Justice Kutigi of religious bias

CAN says Idris Kutigi should have made a CAN delegate a co-chairman in Committee on religion.

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has accused the Chairman of the National Conference, Idris Kutigi, of religious bias against Christians in the appointment of chairmen of committees.

CAN’s protest was made known on Tuesday in a press statement by its Director on National Affairs, Sunny Oibe.

CAN specifically complained about the composition of the committee of religion saying Mr. Kutigi ensured that the leadership of the committees “favours Muslims in Nigeria”.

“He is from Niger State and the Committee on Religion should be a sensitive committee,” CAN said in the statement.

It also said the chairman “has decided to scatter the Christians in the confab and now brought Nurudeen Lemu, the son of Sheikh Lemu, who is also from Niger State to chair the committee and did not pick any delegate representing the Christian Association of Nigeria”.

The CAN added that a supposed Christian in the committee, Jonathan Obaje, representing the Diaspora in the confab has been given express permission by Mr. Kutigi to travel overseas for holiday.

“He is not even in Nigeria at present and does not represent CAN; the delegate is not around and Christians will be affected during voting,” they said.

They said Bishop Felix Ajakaiye who was named co-Chairman in the committee is representing Ekiti State and not CAN.

“In that case, we have already lost and the ratio will now be 12
members for Muslims and 6 for Christians

“To us in CAN, Justice Kutigi is working out a script to undermine the interest of the Christians in the confab. Ordinarily, the Christians who have been on the receiving end from the members of the
Boko Haram Islamic sect in the North should be a co-chairman in the Committee on Religion

“But what Kutigi did was to pick a Muslim from the North as chairman and a Christian from the South West (Ajakaiye) who has little or no knowledge of what is happening in the North as co-chairman,” CAN said.

It said the interest of Christians in this case, will not be adequately protected.

It said already, the confab is a stage-managed conference, because even though President Goodluck Jonathan has a good intention, “there is a problem in allowing Kutigi to be chairman”.

“So Christians in Nigeria are not happy and we don’t expect that a man who is highly placed like Justice Kutigi would allow his religion to override national interest,” the statement said.

Speaking further, CAN said “So we are asking the Vice Chairman of that Conference, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi what he is doing there? It may also interest Nigerians to note that none of the delegates sent by CAN were allowed to head any committee in the confab; this is unfortunate.

Where is the transparency? Where is the equity and fairness? “

CAN said although it has no problem with the nomination of Mr. Ajakaiye, it sees his choice as a mischief by Mr. Kutigi.

“Ajakaiye is a Christian from the South West but to us, a Christian from the North and CAN delegate who knows how Christians are being slaughtered on daily basis by Boko Haram should be the co-chairman of
the committee.

“But Kutigi refused because he is carrying out an Islamic agenda. These are the same people who claimed that Jonathan skewed the conference to favour the Christians. But the truth has now been revealed that Kutigi is the person who skewed the committee to undermine the Christians,” they said.

CAN said what it needs is equal representation in the confab.

“If Muslims are 12, Christians must be 12 in the religious committee. We demand that the man in Diaspora should be replaced because he doesn’t know what is going on in this country. We want a Christian from the North to be a co-chair.

“Anything short of that means that Kutigi is biased and playing an Islamic agenda against Christians in this country. We are therefore doubting his credibility to pilot the affairs of the good conference put together by the Jonathan’s administration”.

The members of the Committee on Religion as obtained from the Conference Secretariat are Nuruddeen Lemu -chairman; Bishop Felix Femi Ajakaiye, co-chairman; Shetu Alfa, Bishop Joseph Bagobiri, Hadija Dije Dattijo, Obini Ekpe, Pastor Bosun Emmanuel and Layi Erinosho.

Others are Muzzammil Hanga, Andrew Haruna, Obiora Ike, Godswill Iyoke, Munzali Jibril, Talatu Nasir, Mamman Nasir, Jonathan Obaje, Is-haq Oloyede and Amina Omoti.

Confab secretariat reacts

When contacted, the spokesperson of the conference, Akpandem James, said “Is Bishop Ajakaiye not a Christian? Somebody is a Christian and because he is not a CAN delegate he shouldn’t be co-chairman? Look, CAN is just an association and it is not every Christian that is a member. Not all churches in Nigeria are members of CAN. Must somebody come from Borno or Yobe State before heading a committee on religion?

“We had few people representing CAN and is that a group that should dictate what to do? The committee is made up of Christians and Muslims, whether you are a member of CAN or Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria. Are there no other members of NSCIA? People are just looking for trouble where there’s none,” he said.

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