The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, has come under verbal attack from some Muslim groups for his Christmas message deemed controversial.
In the message titled: “A Nation in search of vindication”, the clergyman highlighted some challenges facing the country and how the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has not lived up to expectations.
“Against the backdrop of our endless woes, ours has become a nation wrapped in desolation. The prospects of a failed state stare us in the face: endless bloodletting, a collapsing economy, social anomie, domestic and community violence, kidnappings, armed robberies etc. Ours has become a house of horror with fear stalking our homes, highways, cities, hamlets and entire communities. The middle grounds of optimism have continued to shift and many genuinely ask, what have we done to the gods? Does Nigeria have a future? Where can we find hope? Like the Psalmist, we ask; from where shall come our help? (Ps.121:1),” he said in part.
He again accused Mr Buhari of nepotism and “institutionalising northern hegemony against national interests.”
“President Buhari deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him to what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second class status. He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion. Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it.”
Mr Kukah’s message has been met with criticisms from Mr Buhari’s supporters.
However, in a January 6 statement issued by its Secretary General, Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, Jama’atu Nasril Islam, a Muslim group, described Mr Kukah’s message as “irresponsible and seditious”.
The group said, although the message is disguised as a political hogwash to deceive the innocent, “there is no doubt that it was a poisoned arrow fired at the heart of Islam and Muslims in Nigeria, hence the need for this intervention.”
“The Bishop statement was a prepared address considering the occasion and the audience, one cannot but agree that it was a calculated attempt to insult Islam which is typical of him. His veiled insinuation that Muslims have a pool of violence to draw from, is disgusting, disheartening, as well as condemnable.”
It said despite the status of Sokoto to the Muslims and Islamic history, “Mr Kukah was warmly welcomed, accepted, accommodated and accorded respect deserving of his position as a religious leader.”
“Across the length and breadth of the Northern Nigeria, Kukah has friends and associates among the Muslim society. Without fear of any contradiction, he is most accepted and accommodated Christian clergy to the leaders of the Muslims in the north. They accorded him all the support he needed, despite some reservations from some quarters about his tendencies to bite the fingers that feed him,” the group said.
“Inspite of the liberality, congeniality and the camaraderie extended to Bishop Kukah in Sokoto and all over the Muslim north, he throws all sense of decorum and common sense to the wind and fired invective salvos on the Muslims and Islam without any justification. By this and his several similar inane attacks against Islam and the Muslims, the Bishop has lost the friendship and the hospitality of the entire Muslim populace. How can the Muslims ever trust a man who smiles at their faces in the day and holds a dagger against them in the night? How can the Muslims continue to be hospitable to the one who proves to be ingrate many times over? How can the Muslims be comfortable in associating with a bitterly vindictive person disguised in the garb of religious clergy?”
Similarly, the Ummah Movement with its headquarters at the National Islamic Centre (NIC), Zaria, expressed shock and disappointment over Mr Kukah’s message.
It said Mr Kukah should have since resigned from the Abdulsalam Abubakar led National Peace Committee (NPC).
The movement’s position was contained in a statement signed by its leader, Muhammad Muhammad. The statement was released on Sunday.
The group said it had earlier restrained from commenting on Mr Kukah’s sermon “with the hope that he will offer genuine apology”.
“Unfortunately, the only response from him proved his peevishness on deciding to be on the wrong side of history. The NIC therefore, is left with no option than to call for the immediate resignation of the Bishop from the Peace Committee, in view of his blatant anti-Muslim partisanship as displayed in his treasonable Christmas message.
“Bishop Kukah has lost whatever remains of respect from the generality of Muslims as observed by the Jama’atu Nasril Islam in its reaction and he has therefore become a liability to the NPC.”
The group said Mr Kukah “should be replaced with someone more objective, accommodative and level headed.”
“Indeed we call on the National security agencies to question Bishop Kukah on his incitement to a coup, persistent and deliberate stirring of communal conflict and slanderous targeting of the majority Muslim population of Nigeria along with their faith.”
The group blamed Mr Kukah for Nigeria featuring on the U.S. blacklist for religious intolerance.
“His misleading portrayal, along with other short sighted Christian leaders, of their flock as “oppressed” provided the false data used by the United States State Department to “blacklist” Nigerian over its “religious intolerance” (whatever that means, it sounds ominous). It is most unfortunate and unpatriotic that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) promotes this fake data. We condemn in totality this labelling by the USA and some UK Parliamentarians and reject it outright.”
Mr Kukah has denied attacking the Presidency or any religion in a previous report.
“I have no iota of grudge with President Muhammadu Buhari, but what I strictly and categorically said was that using religion as a tool for playing politics is unacceptable and would not be accepted,” Mr Kukah said.
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