Saturday, 21 May 2005

Christian Association of Nigeria condemns call for Jihad: Statement from the President-In-Council

Christian Association of Nigeria condemns call for Jihad: Statement from the President-In-Council

The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has issued a strong-worded statement condemning recent calls for a jihad. The statement also took a critical look at the forthcoming population census in Nigeria.
The Statement:
At the request of the National Executive Committee and in accordance with the Constitution of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the President-In-Council met under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and deliberated on some urgent national matters as they affect the Christian Community in Nigeria and hereby issues the following statement:
“Every Kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. (Matthew 2:25)”.
From our perspective we know that there are many common factors such as: domineering attitude, intolerance, religious bigotry, selfishness, greed, corruption, ethnicity, marginalization, suppression and oppression of the masses that often lead to divisions in any kingdom or nation.
In our country, using religion to cause disaffection among the citizenry has often led to unnecessary and avoidable bloodshed. The incessant call for Jihad in this country by misguided fellows is in itself a clear indication that those people do not think that anyone else has a right to be a citizen of this country except they and they alone. They see Nigeria as their exclusive preserve. The Jihad propagandists do not see any justification for our continued co-existence as one people under God.
One would have thought that following the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914 and the attainment of the Independence in 1960, intertribal, sectional and religious wars had come to an end. It is most unfortunate that 45 years as a Nation, some nefarious disgruntled elements are still calling for religious war in Nigeria, which in the end does no one any good – except the loss of precious life and property.
Our concern in CAN today is to work with other stakeholders, to ensure a sustainable democracy, good governance, to bring the monster of corruption to its knees, and to work for even development of our father land in atmosphere of peace and tranquility. While we are praying and working towards these ideals and goals, others seem bent on bringing Nigeria to ruins.
Furthermore, as it seems that the Federal Government is trying to correct some of the imbalances in our body-politic of the past, these diabolic elements who want to plunge Nigeria into a religious war have consistently equated government with the Church.
They have chosen not to see anything good in any action of the Federal Government. Hence, the call for jihad is becoming louder with the passing of each day.
They behave as if they have exclusive preserve and monopoly of aggression and violence. No; they don’t. The saving grace so far, is that the Christian leadership have only managed to restrain the militant groups in various churches in the country, but now they tell us that their patience is running out.
Nigeria is by the grace of God a huge melting pot for the over one hundred and thirty million people coming from diverse backgrounds and happen to profess different religious beliefs and faiths. They have different orientations and they bring different talents and skills which, they employ for the common good of our fatherland.
It is therefore not right; nor is it reasonable or wise for anyone group to ever think of imposing its own ideology, faith or religion upon the entire nation.
In this context, we wish to commend those Moslem leaders who believe and are working for peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians irrespective of religious and ethnic backgrounds. We have reasons to believe that those who are calling for a jihad are not speaking for all Nigerian Moslems, since the call is emanating from a particular section of the country.
We must remind the nation that Christians have always been at the receiving end each time a call for jihad is made. In our short history, Christians are known to have been massacred, their property destroyed and their churches razed in Kafanchan, Zaria, Kaduna, Bauchi, Jos and Kano, several times.
At no point has the Church ever initiated any of these crises. Its not because of cowardice or lack of knowledge of what to do, but because our religion expects us to love our neighbours as ourselves and to be at peace with all people so much so that when we are smacked on the left cheek we turn the right cheek.
But now we warn, let no one take this for granted any longer because, there is a limit to which you can push a people. Christians have been pushed to the wall in this country and we are making it clear that Christians have no other place to call their own except this same country, Nigeria.
We advise that if the people do not believe in the unity and common destiny of Nigeria, they can sponsor a bill in the National Assembly for a peaceful disintegration of Nigeria or argue their case at the on going CONFAB and let us part ways in peace rather than through bloodshed. ‘He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword…’
We call on Law enforcement Agents to carry out their Constitutional responsibility without fear or favour. They should arrest promptly and bring to justice those who make irresponsible calls for the destruction of our fatherland.
However, should the police fail in this regard, the Christian community in Nigeria will have no other option than to do whatever is deems necessary in every possible way to defend herself.
Given their enormous political implications, issues of population size, population characteristics, population growth rate and geographical distribution are fundamental. Therefore every effort should be made to ensure the conduct of an accurate, credible (avoid counting by proxy) and acceptable census this year throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The usefulness of the statistics gathered will be severely curtailed if such vital aspects as age and sex composition, ethnic diversity and religious characteristics of our population are left out as it is being proposed by some. We believe that the nation will greatly benefit from an accurate and analysis of the nations population, especially as we struggle to plan for balanced and sustainable development.
The Christian Association of Nigeria is fully aware that the NPC is being persuaded by some religious interests to ignore these areas of concern. We also know that the new draft of enumeration forms have excluded these vital statistical data. We call on the NPC to correct this anomaly immediately.
We wish to state categorically that it is critical and of fundamental importance to us as a major player in the affairs of Nigeria, and to all well meaning Nigerians that these key elements of the Census should and must not be left out. It is time to correct all the illusions imposed upon us by previous dubious census figures.

Members of the President-In-Council
Christian Association of Nigeria

1. The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, CON

2. Vice President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
Bishop Mike Okonkwo

3. President, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN)
Archbishop John Onaiyekan, CON

4. National President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN)
Pastor Ayo Ortisejiefor

5. International President, ECWA/TEKAN
Professor C. Olowola

6. Acting President, Organization of African Instituted Churches
Bishop Daniel C. Okoh

7. General Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
Engr. S.L.S Salifu