The attention of the Directorate of publicity of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has been drawn to some inflammatory statements made in the euphoria of being re-elected President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), by pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, in Nigerian press.
One of such statements is an unprintable assault publicity hauled at the person of a high ranking member of the NSCIA, His Royal Highness the Etsu Nupe, whom the CAN President derided in his vainglorious attempt to label the highly revered monarch as an abductor in reference to a 24 year old woman who voluntarily embraced Islam and came into protective custody of the royal highness, through a judicial process against the avowed threat of her father.
Even when the woman had addressed the press severally on the matter in which she explained how she embraced Islam and even concluded that no deprivation of such a protective custody could force her renounce (ISLAM) her newly found faith, Pastor Oritsejafor still when ahead to publicly make a mountain out the a molehill on the issue as if religious is not a matter of choice.
Another issue on which the CAN President made an unwarranted jibe concerns the person of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who had meticulously educated Nigerians on the currently global Islamic banking to the satisfaction of many people including some well-educated and understanding Christians who are not mischievous. Whereas Nigerians, across religious lines appreciates the value of Islamic banking, Oritsejafor kept fanning an ember of discord on it by claiming that Islamic banking was targeted at Nigeria Christians. He seems to have forgotten that the whole idea of Islamic Banking in Nigeria was initiated as a matter of policy by Lamido’s predecessor in office, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo (a Christian), and that the operating officer in charge of that window is Tunde Lemo also a Christian both of whom are alive and in Nigeria today. If Islamic Banking is aimed at Christianity in Nigeria against which religion is it aimed in Europe, America and Asia where it is, being championed by Christian, Buddhists and Hindus? For those who can clearly read between the lines, the issue here seems to go beyond Islamic Banking.
Despite the obvious fact that, as far as the Pastor is concern , it is a crime for the Governor of CBN not to be a Christian, one would not expect a sincere religious leader to concoct lies and misrepresent a general fiscal policy being implemented in many countries as a design against Churches in Nigeria.
We are surprised by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor’s continual jibes against Islam and Muslim leaders with the aim of heating up the polity thereby aggravating religious tension in the country. We nevertheless, understand it all to be his own method of leadership which is why we have all the while kept silent despite his relentless provocations. Nevertheless, such silence must not be taken for timidity.
But for wanting to let Nigerian public know the true facts of the matter, this response would not have been necessary. At least, it is well known to most Nigerians that NSCIA does not make frivolous public statements because frivolity is not in its character. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is respectable religious body and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has often accorded it such respect but it is our candid opinion that any honourable person who lives in a glass house must not throw stones.
By and large, we regard the unwarranted utterances of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor as his personal opinion and not those of the respected CAN because both religious apex bodies (NSCIA and CAN) had closely interacted with mutual respect for quite some time before now. We therefore implore Christian elders and other well-meaning Nigerians as well as the Federal Government to prevail on Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor to stop using CAN as a shield for his public hateful utterances against Islam and Muslim leaders.
We are bewildered by the posture of Pastor Oritsejafor as a de facto Federal Government when he addressed the National Committee on Dialogue and Peace a few days ago. In furtherance of his war-mongering posture, he appropriated the powers of the Government to accept or reject recommendations of Government Committees even before such report is written.
We appeal to all persons of goodwill or prevail on CAN President to stop his demonization of Muslim personalities and the obvious manipulation of public machinery for sectional, personal and divisive ends. We also urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to put halt to the current Christianisation of public Institutions and policies in the interest of our multi religious Nation.
MUHMMAD KABIR KASSIM
AG. DIRECTOR OF PUBLICITY NSCIA