The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has rejected the attempt by the northern governors to regulate religious preaching in the north using traditional rulers, saying that it will not be practicable.
CAN also said that it is holding the federal government and the five state governments where violence erupted during the Boko Haram crisis which it said led to the behading of 11 Christians, including three Pastors and the burning of 20 churches.
Addressing a news conference in Kaduna yesterday evening, the Secretary of CAN in the area, Elder Saidu Dogo said that â€œthe fundamental issue that motivated the Boko Haram movement to unleash terror on innocent Nigerians is the quest for the total implementation of shariaâ€ in the country.
Also, the Kaduna state Secretary of CAN and Publicity Secretary of Northern CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab, in his own contribution said that Christians already have their own internal mechanism to regulate their own preachers.
Hayab said that no Catholic, Anglican or Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) can preach the gospel without being licensed to do so, adding that this was the situation in other churches.
According to him, traditional rulers or Emirs are not qualified to regulate religious preachings because it will create more problems than solutions.
â€œHow can a Muslim Emir or Christian traditional ruler regulate preaching in Christianity or Islam as the case may be?, he queried, pointing out that the 19 Northern Governors did not fully understand the implications of their intentions for Emirs to regulate religious preaching when they made their intentions known last weekâ€.
Earlier, Elder Dogo had said that â€œWe are addressing this Press Conference with a heavy heart as a result of the mindless killing of Christians and destruction of their churches in Maiduguri , the Borno state capital, by members of the Islamic fundamentalists known as â€œBoko Haramâ€
â€œSince the incident, some northern leaders including the federal and the Borno state government appear to be suppressing the facts of the violence as it affects Christians in Maiduguri and we feel it is imperative to tell the world about the callousness, the barbarism that the Islamic sect meted on Christians.
â€œThe Boko Haram sect went about wielding dangerous weapons and abducting Christians to the enclave of their leader, Mohammed Yusuf in the name of implementing Sharia in Nigeria. They were forcefully converted to Islam after they were tortured.
â€œThree pastors and eight other Christians who resisted the forceful conversion were beheaded on the order of the leader of the Islamic sect. while 20 churches were burnt to ashes by the fundamentalists.
â€œThe Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern States is holding the Federal Government and the five state governments where violence erupted responsible for the mayhem, especially the Borno state government.
â€œThe authorities in Borno state must be blamed for laxity in acting promptly on issues that has to do with security of lives and property. For instance, Monday July 20th, 2009, before the violence erupted CAN Borno state chapter had received informationÂ Â indicating that the leader of the Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf and his followers were brazing up for a show down.
â€œThe following day, the CAN officials in state alerted the appropriate security agencies, expressing their fears about the activities of the Islamic sect, but they were assured that the Christian community was not the target of the blood thirsty hoodlums.
â€œOn the 25th of July the governor of Borno state, Senator Modu Sheriff also came out to assure that the security of citizens were guaranteed and urged them to go about their normal duties.
â€œHowever, to our greatest surprise, on the 26 July, at about 11 pm, Christians and their churches were attacked by the Islamic fundamentalists as they set our churches and vehicles ablaze.
â€œThe Federal Government is equally aware of the existence of terrorists groups in the country as well. This is because long before now, the Director General of the State Security Services (SSS) had informed the nation of the existence of terrorist groups in the country. The Federal Government is aware of the existence and activities of these terrorists groups.
The Federal government and other relevant authorities were adequately informed about the activities of these people.
â€œWe also have had cause to alert the nation about the existent of these terrorist groups and their training grounds but the authorities did not take us seriously.
In fact, a prominent traditional ruler in the North who traveled to the United States denied that there are terrorists in Nigeria . Indeed this violence in Maiduguri , Bauchi, Kano and Potiskum has vindicated the SSS and CAN in the Northern states.
â€œCAN therefore demand that the Federal Government and the Borno state government to immediately rebuild the churches that were destroyed during the violence in Maiduguri.
â€œThe churches include: EYN Church , Wulari, Maiduguri, National Evangelical Mission , Wulari, Maiduguri, Celestial Church of Christ, Wulari, Maiduguri, Elijah Appostlic Church , Wulari, Maiduguri, Deeper Life Bible Church , Wulari, Maiduguri andÂ The Lordâ€™s Chosen Charismatic Revival ministry, Wulari, Maiduguri .
â€œOthers are Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Jajere, Maiduguri, Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Railway, Maiduguri, Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Old Maiduguri, Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Gamboru, Maiduguri, EYN Church , Jajere, Maiduguri, St. Michaelâ€™s Catholic Church, Railway, Maiduguri, Deeper Life Bible Church , Railway, Maiduguri and Assemblies of God Church , Railway, Maiduguri.
â€œThe rest are Redeem Christian Church of God, Railway, Maiduguri, Christ for All Nations Church , Railway, Maiduguri, Baptist Church , Railway, Maiduguri,Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Gamboru, Ngala, Catholic Church, Gamboru, Ngala and Anglican Church, Gamboru, Ngala .
â€œWe are extremely worried about these frequent attacks on Christians and their churches in the north and it is our prayer that this madness should be nipped in the bud before the younger generations who are watching this callous behaviour decide to take the laws in their hands.
â€œThe government must address this issue of Sharia which is being implemented in some of the northern states seriously. Since the introduction of Sharia the northern states have increasingly become a hotbed for religious and ethnic crises. Thousands of people have lost their lives in bloody religious crisis in the Northâ€¦
â€œFor instance, states like Kano , Zamfara and Sokoto, the fundamental rights of Christians were being violated by the Sharia enforcement committees known as â€œHisbaâ€. In Kano in particular, Christian have lost millions of naira as a result of the unconstitutional activities of this group established by the Kano state government
â€œBusinesses of Christians were being illegally destroyed in the name of Sharia implementation. Recently our Christian brothers from the South East resident in Kano raised an alarm over the persistent destruction of their businesses by the Sharia enforcement agents and had to appeal to governors of the South East to intervene in this harassment.
â€œThis is a dangerous trend and a serious threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria as nation.Â We must address the constitutionality of this Sharia once and for all.
â€œWe call on the National Assembly to act fast on this issue of Sharia before other fundamentalists plunge Nigeria into more serious trouble. Governments at all levels, especially the Federal Government must take the issue of security very seriously before this country explodes.
â€œWe do not want to believe that the leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf and his followers acted alone without the support of some powerful and influential forces that facilitated their acquisition of sophisticated arms.
â€œThe government should fish out those people and bring them to justice. Indeed the only way to end this bloodshed, in addition to ensuring adequate security and conducive social environment, is to bring the perpetrators of these violence to justice.
â€œWe appeal to all Christians to be their brothersâ€™ keepers, by assisting all those innocent people who have been displaced in Maiduguri with relief materials and food items. We call on Christians to continue to pray for peace and stability in Nigeriaâ€.