The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is deliberately planning to shut out Christians in the country from voting in the 2015 general elections.
The President of CAN, Ayo Oritsejafor, who stated this at the association’s national executive council meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, said he was suspicious of a sinister motive by the Commission following its poor handling of the distribution of the permanent voters’ cards.
He, however, warned that Christians would resist such a plan if the Commission was truly harbouring it just as he appealed to faithful to register and vote in other to participate in governance.
Mr. Oritsejafor did however not substantiate his claims. He did not say exactly how the electoral body is shutting out Christians and how it is failing to issue them cards.
He only said, “I want to say passionately to Nigerians, go and get your voters’ cards. I want to appeal to INEC to double up. Our people must register and have their voters’ cards.
“I hope INEC is not doing something deliberate here in order to prevent Christians from voting. I hope Professor Attahiru Jega can hear me. We must all vote and vote wisely.”
The clergyman also warned the Boko Haram sect to end their terrorist activities in the North East region, adding that the association was ready to meet senior Muslim clerics with a view to ending the insurgency and unprovoked attack on Christians and churches.
He demanded that fifth columnists among security agencies, which allegedly are sabotaging government’s war against insurgency, should be fished out and dismissed.
According to him, the nation’s territories that had been taken over by the dreaded Boko Haram sect are predominantly populated by Christians who he said were no longer safe.
Mr. Oritsejafor restated that the insurgents were waging a religious war against Christians, adding that he had remained a critic of the satanic activities of the group.
“What is happening in the North-east is unacceptable,” he said.
“What is happening there is unacceptable to us. Christians are the main victims. We are not saying that other people are not affected. But Christians are the ones affected more. All the places where Boko Haram has foisted their flags are dominated by Christians.”
“They have taken over Mubi in Adamawa state which is dominated by Christians. Somebody will now tell me this is not religion. Who is fooling who? Nigerians should accept that we have a problem,” the leader of Christian community in Nigeria stated.
Again, Mr. Oritsejafor did not provide facts and figures to back his claim that adherents of a particular religion have been more on the receiving end of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The CAN president however called on Nigerians to pray to God to put an end to the mindless killings.
He said he would not join other Nigerians who had created names for themselves by constantly criticising the military, but would continue to ask the leadership of the military to fish out saboteurs if the war against terror must be won.
He said, “All well meaning Nigerians must pray and continue to pray. We must pray. I will not join those condemning our security agencies. They are Nigerians. Women are losing their husbands and children are losing their fathers. I want to challenge the military. They can do better. They must continue to fish out those sabotaging their efforts. Those people should be expelled. They are in all the security agencies.
“No matter the intention you have, if you have people working against you, you will not succeed. There are too many people in the system working against the system. Why should these kind of things be happening? Innocent people are being killed. It’s too much. Enough is enough,” Mr. Oritsejafor told the audience.
Mr. Oritsejafor also reminded the Federal Government and other Nigerians of the need to adopt new approach in the war against Boko Haram, noting that the use of force alone could not end the insurgent activities.
According to him, “Even though I have said the military must continue to work harder, guns and bullets alone will not save this problem. Boko Haram is an ideology. Let us not run away from it. You do not defeat an ideology with guns and bullets. You defeat an ideology with a superior ideology. Boko Haram will not listen to me.
“I want to make an appeal to our Muslim clerics and Muslim political leaders to come together and see how they can help us solve this problem. They have the solution. There are some muslim scholars Boko Haram members respect. To a large extent, that is the only way out.
“As members of CAN, we are ready to meet with them. I believe in progressive dialogue. This is my strong appeal. I want to appeal to those at the grassroots. This connects to the leaders. The leaders should talk to those at the grassroots. They should give reliable intelligence to our security agents. Please, do not harbour these people. They are not fighting for you. Expose them.
While noting that there were journalists at the meeting, the cleric asked them to pass the message to the relevant authorities.
He said Nigerians would like to have a better country where everyone was equal and have respect for the constitution.
In fact, we want one constitution where everyone will follow. Those saying Boko Haram is not religious are deceiving themselves.
“We want a Nigeria where everyone is safe. We want a Nigerian where a man is not judged by his religion. That is the Nigeria we all want. If we want one united Nigeria, we must all pay the price for it.”
Mr. Oritsejafor called on the international community to assist Nigeria and its people to surmount the current challenges.
He said, “I believe as bad as the situation is, with God, all things are possible. I know that there is God. He will not forsake us. We have restrained our people so much and we will continue to restrain them. But I beg Nigerians to not let this continue. These are dangerous and serious times.
“I was reading a report from a priest in Borno of how churches have been destroyed. I wonder why the international community is not saying anything. Is this not human rights violation? We call on government, NEMA, NGOs, the international community. We need help. Our people are dying. Come and help us.”