Revisiting The Commendable Position Of The National Christian Elders Forum Over The Plight Of Nigerian Christians

 

….as more 18 Christians of Benue kindred slaughtered by Fulani Jihadists and nine others battling to stay aliv

Serious concerns over continuing massacre of thousands of members of the Christian Faith and loss of thousands of houses including churches and Christian schools in their hundreds on annual basis in Northern Nigeria as well as silence and inaction of those in the position of authority and the umbrella body of the Nigerian Christians (CAN) are continuously mounting within and beyond the borders of Nigeria.

Intersociety had on Sunday, 31st March 2019 released a special statement, noting that “no fewer than 425 Christian lives were lost to Government protected Killer Fulani Herdsmen with destruction of over 200 houses including dozens of churches between the Eve of Jan and end of March 2019”. For more details, read it here: http://intersociety-ng.org/component/k2/item/437-christian-deaths-in-2018

As if these were not enough, no fewer than 18 Christians belonging to kindred in Ayilamo Community, Tombo Ward in Logo Council of Benue State were in the night of Saturday, 30th March 2019 slaughtered by Killer Fulani Herdsmen with nine others critically injured and presently lying half dead in an undisclosed hospital in Benue State. The Saturday night attack on Christians of the Community took place barely 48hrs after it lost five Christians to same Fulani Jihadists in the night of Thursday, 28th March 2019. The Community also came under several attacks in 2018 leading to death of 76 Christians in a single attack.

Names of the five Christian dead victims of the first attack in the Community on 28th March 2019 included Aondo Gbagaagaver, Laaga and Wuese Wuakor and Ortyom Ingyutu.  In the returned attacks carried out barely 48hrs later on 30th March 2019, killing eighteen persons and injuring nine others, names of the 18 Christian dead victims included Mlahaga Agbel, Orseel Tyokula, Ashe Baka, Akilga Mvandaga, Mekpe Uzel, Vulnube Komdum, Saamoyal Mkom and Iferwua Agbel.

The latest attacks would not have been reported or heard anywhere in the media but for Mr. Francis Akiiga, an indigene of the Community and survivor of 2018 attacks, who exclusively disclosed this on Sunday, 31st March 2019 to the Elombah News Online in Abuja. He had run into a friend who is a senior staff of the Elombah News Online in Abuja. Such speaks volume of several cases of anti Christian massacres that usually go unreported in Nigeria.

Intersociety had in the referenced special statement singled out the National leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria for condemnation for “swimming in the blood of thousands of their slaughtered Faith members and smiling to the bank with bloody brown envelopes routinely received from the official protectors of the masterminds of the anti Christian butchery in Nigeria”. Intersociety also renewed its call for scrapping of CAN and formation of a new, purposeful and proactive central Christian body in Nigeria.

However, it gladdens the heart of Intersociety to note the bold step taken by the National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, which publicly distanced itself from the recent “congratulatory visit” of Rev Samson Olasupo Ayokunle led CAN national executives to the President of Nigeria. Such unholy visits usually attract “fat cash gifts” or “brown envelopes” to members of the CAN entourage; usually leading to squabbles or struggles over whom to be enlisted or sharing formulas for the “fat cash envelopes”.

Read here: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/05/trouble-in-the-house-of-god-buharis-cash-gift-divides-can/ (Trouble in the House of God: Buhari’s Cash Gifts Divide CAN)

Such questionable visits have also become a routine and ritualized, to the extent that the National leadership of CAN now visits Aso Rock more than it visits the Christian communities and churches affected by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen attacks. Noted and commended, too, is the NCEF’s disclosure that the Catholic Church in Nigeria represented by its Bishops Conference and Catholic Secretariat boycotted or distanced itself from the CAN’s Aso Rock’s “presidential poll victory and Xian plight inaction visit”.

Having read and analyzed the public position of the National Christian Elders Forum, contained in its dated statement of Saturday, 30th March 2019 and signed by its Chairman, Solomon Asemota, SAN; Intersociety is strong solidarity with the NCEF’s statement and irrefutable facts clearly stated therein. The NCEF’s statement may not have been well publicized; owing to “coordinated conspiracy of silence and inaction” under complaint as well as “certain vested interests”; which is why we have resolved to reproduce the statement in full as originally issued and dated.     

CAN President running CAN as an Appendage of APC"..........National Christian Elders Forum NCEF”

“PRESS RELEASE

NOT ON OUR BEHALF, CAN PRESIDENT, NOT ON OUR BEHALF

The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) was shocked to read in the news that the President of CAN, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, with some CAN Officials and Christian leaders paid a “congratulatory” visit to President Muhammadu Buhari on his purported victory in the 2019 General Elections. The NCEF wishes to state clearly that such visit is “sub judice” as the determination of who won the 2019 General Election is still in Court. It is therefore premature and presumptuous for anyone to congratulate President Buhari for “winning” an election that is contested in Court.

The NCEF wishes to state that the congratulatory visit to Aso Villa by CAN could not be in the interest of Nigerian Christians who daily bear the agony of thousands of their brethren being killed, maimed, displaced and marginalized in the Jihad launched in the northern parts of the country. It is well known the indifference of the Buhari Administration to the murder of Christians all over the country. This indifference has led many, including foreign observers, to conclude that the Buhari Administration is complicit in the genocide that is taking place in Nigeria.

The action of the CAN President, Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, is a further confirmation of all the protests and petitions of NCEF in 2018 querying the faithfulness of Dr. Ayokunle to Christ and to His Church. In its 2018 Report titled FACTORS HINDERING CHRISTIAN POLITICAL CONSENSUS FOR 2019 ELECTION, the NCEF provided irrefutable facts that Rev. Ayokunle deliberately frustrated Christian political consensus in a country in which religion has become a major factor in politics. With this ill-advised congratulatory visit to President Buhari, it should be clear to every Christian of good conscience that Rev. Ayokunle is running CAN as an appendage of APC which has proven by its religiously popularism biased appointments and policies that it is primarily a religious party that is to the disadvantage of Christians whom Rev. Ayokunle claims to be representing.

It would be recalled that during the Elections, Rev. Ayokunle presumptuously deployed a 1,000 man CAN Election Observers team to monitor the Elections nationwide. The action was presumptuous since CAN does not have the Constitutional responsibility of engaging politics. Christian leaders deliberately established Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) for this purpose in 2001 as the socio-political arm of the Church. Nonetheless, after observing the Elections, the 1,000 man CAN Election Observers is yet to release its Report before CAN rushed to congratulate one of the contestants. Since all the other Observers have since released their Reports, where is the Report of the CAN Observers Team?

NCEF noticed that a notable arm of the Church, the Catholic Church, did not join the delegation that went to congratulate President Buhari. This would be consistent with the Communiqué issued by the Catholic Church expressing concern about the Elections and advising that dissatisfied individuals should seek recourse in court of law. This in the view of NCEF is how a Christian body should respond to issues of this nature.

NCEF is making these points for record purposes so that in years to come, if any further evil befalls Christianity in Nigeria, no one would claim ignorance of the issues that led to the emasculation of the Church. As Christian Elders, we affirm that it was ill advised and ill motivated for anyone claiming to represent the Body of Christ to rush to congratulate President Buhari pending the determination of the suit in Court.

Presently, Christians are mourning over 200 people murdered in Kajuru and Adara in southern Kaduna. There are increasing reports of Clergy routinely kidnapped and murdered in Middle Belt and parts of the North. These are in addition to genocide in Benue, Taraba, Plateau, and other parts of southern Kaduna. So far, no arrest has been made and no one has been prosecuted. Therefore, for any Christian leader to go and shake the hand of the man who has done nothing to stop the genocide is morally and spiritually reprehensible.

In addition to the concerns expressed above, it should be remembered that we all witnessed the debacles during the campaigns for the 2019 Elections as well as the violent conduct of the Elections. We witnessed the widespread application of “inconclusive” Elections where the opposition party had upper hand. We saw with regret the way Kano, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Lagos, Taraba, Bayelsa, and Plateau states Election, amongst others, were handled. The campaign debate and Presidential interview exposed the competence and capability of the candidates and Nigerians spoke through their votes and expressed their preference. Therefore, the will of the people must not be subverted. It is wrong for anyone, or any group of people, to seek to use CAN to legitimize an illegality. That congratulatory visit, we insist, was not on behalf of Nigerian Christians.

Fortunately for the NCEF, in making this clarification, no one can accuse the Christian Elders of religious bigotry or ethnic discrimination since both front runners are Muslims from the North and of the same ethnic stock. In the same vein, no one could say that NCEF is holding brief for any political party since NCEF neither supported any political party nor adopted any candidate during the elections. The interest of NCEF is that Democracy should be permitted to flourish and prevail in Nigeria. As President Goodluck Jonathan demonstrated in 2015, the will of the people must not be subverted. We are no longer in the era of Military coup in which individual(s) can impose themselves as rulers over the nation. This is Democracy and the will of the people must not be subverted. Any attempt to kill democracy by a President who subverts the very process that brought him to power under the instrumentality of stealth and conventional jihad must be resisted and rejected.

NCEF aligns itself with the stand of the ethnic nationalities in South West, South East, South South and Middle Belt Zones that the Judiciary should perform its rightful oversight and ensure that the rightful winner of the 2019 Elections is sworn into office in May 29, 2019. If the Judiciary, for whatever reason, is unable to take a stand and defend the will of the people then Nigeria would have destroyed Democracy and signed on as a fascist state.

Now is the time for every man of good conscience to rise and speak. It is no use waiting for an illegality to be stamped upon the country before people would start complaining. Government should not be permitted to become illegitimate in Nigeria. This is the time to stand up and speak out. In this season, silence is not golden”.

“God bless Nigeria.

Solomon Asemota, SAN
Chairman
NCEF
30th March, 2019”

Signed:

For: For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)

 

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chair of the Board

(B.Sc., CSS, M.Sc., PCR)

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Mobile Line: +2348174090052

 

Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., (LLB, BL)

Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program

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Chidinma Udegbunam, Esq., (LLB, BL)

Head, Campaign & Publicity

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