The new president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle, during an interview with Punch, warned President Muhammadu Buhari not to treat Christians as fools by giving any particular religious group more preference above the other.
The CAN president called on the president to maintain religious balance so as not to open the door for lawlessness. He said:
“I want to advise the present government to maintain balance and keep close to the constitution, irrespective of the religious belief of those in government. They should respect the constitution of Nigeria; if the government breaks the constitution of Nigeria on religion alone, they have already opened the door for lawlessness in the society.”
Samson Ayokunle made it clear that the only way to ensure peace in the country was for religious leaders to desist from talking about peace in the open while they go into their closet to teach violence.
He stressed that religion is for correction, mutual love and for peace, adding that wrong indoctrination was the bane of Nigeria’s religious violence.
Ayokunle advised Islamic religious leaders to call their followers to order as the actions of some of them were bringing dishonour to their faith. Hear him:
“They (children) are bringing disgrace to the religion of Islam; we have existed together for many years without this type of development, so it is the duty of the Islamic leaders in Nigeria to look for those who are radicalising their children and turning them into murderers and be able to apprehend them and hand them over to the government or speak to them to teach what is right.
“To say that they are not Muslims is so embarrassing. So, who are they? Are they Christians? Are they pagans? If they are pagans, why do they owe allegiance to the Quran? Do pagans hold Quran or owe allegiance to it?”
Talking about reports alleging the plot by the present government to Islamise Nigeria the president said:
“We have been talking of the Organisation of Islamic Countries. Does the government of Nigeria have the right to take the country into the OIC? Is it in keeping with the spirit of the constitution? When you continue to push people, the limit is to push them to the wall. If you have been telling people to move and they move to the wall and you are still telling them to move, where do you want them to move to? The government of Nigeria should not take things for granted and think that Christians are fools; it will be seen to be promoting one religion above the other or favouring one religion to the detriment of the other. Whenever we see that, we are going to tell them to be very careful and we are going to speak out. Who you are going to worship is a fundamental right of every individual and the government is there to protect that, not to force one religion on the other”.
Speaking on the case of the Christian man who was attacked by some over-zealous youths in Kaduna because he was eating during Ramadan, Dr. Samson Ayokunle described it as an act of religious intolerance saying:
“Somebody was going to eat in the afternoon; he was not a Muslim. What right do you have to go and stab that person in a law-abiding society? When you are not from the bush, you are not a beast, how can you just behave like that? What is Nigeria becoming in the name of religion?
“So these are the things we must all rise to condemn. Since nobody has monopoly to guns and violence, we should not continue to provoke people.”