THE Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday expressed displeasure at what it perceived as the silence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over alleged attacks on Christians in parts of the country. It cited the Southern Kaduna killings which it branded genocide ,and the botched attempt by security operatives to arrest the founder of Omega Fire Ministries, Johnson Suleman, in Akure on Tuesday.
The association in a statement asked Osinbajo to “intervene in all the clampdown on the Church in Nigeria after all, he is in the office primarily to represent the interest of the Christians and his studied silence is no longer golden.” It vowed to resist “any attempt to turn the country into a refugee camp for Christians.”
CAN deplored government’s failure to address cases of blasphemy killings in the north and mentioned repeated cases of released suspects, without further arrests by the security operatives. It said:“The Police have been releasing those who were arrested for the killing of our members in Kano and Kubwa (Abuja) while our leaders are being subjected to untold hardship for no just cause.
“It is high time the overzealous security agencies knew that Nigeria remains a secular state and any attempt to turn the country into a refugee camp for Christians will not be acceptable and will be resisted with every lawful means.” On the aborted attempt to arrest Suleman,CAN said: “Apostle Suleman has become a refugee in Ekiti state as security operatives are said to be searching every nook and cranny of the state with a view to arresting him. “If there is an urgent need to interrogate Apostle Suleman on any issue, it would only have been proper to extend a formal or informal invitation to him from the SSS rather than Gestapo approach used in the attempt to arrest him.
It should be noted that under Nigerian Laws, he is presumed innocent until a court of law proves otherwise. Or have they extended the proposed obnoxious law that forbids religious preaching without the permission of the state governor down south too? “Treating Ministers of God and our members as common criminals is unacceptable to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
Enough is enough.” CAN described the utterances of the pastor as a “mere expression of his fundamental right, which every Nigerian is entitled to,” adding:“The last time we checked, Sections 38-41 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states clearly that every Nigerian is ‘entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.’ “The Constitution states unambiguously that ‘Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference’.
“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests. “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit there …,” it said in the statement signed by the special assistant on media and communication to the CAN President, Bayo Oladeji. Suleman had denied suggestions by the security agency that he was inciting Christians against Muslims. He said his position is that Christians should not fold their arms when and if attempts are made by anyone to attack them in their churches.