Boko Haram amnesty: CAN carpets JNI over comment on Oritsejafor, others

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*Says Onaiyekan, Kukah, Unongo can’t speak for Christians

By CALEB AYANSINA

ABUJA—THE Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has frowned at utterances of the Ja’amatu Nasril Islam (JNI) that tagged CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, and his executive council as enemies of Nigeria over their stand on amnesty for the Boko Haram sect.
The Islamic body, recently in a press conference in Kaduna, wondered if “they (CAN) were appointed special advisers to the President on the perpetration of insecurity?” even when some Christian leaders like John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Bishop Matthew Kukah as well as Paul Unongo have thrown their weight behind the amnesty for the sect.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, General Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa Asake, said although Cardinal Onaiyekan and Bishop Kukah were respected Catholic leaders, they could not speak for Nigerian Christians neither could they speak for CAN.

Asake said: “The two men do not have any moral or institutional authority to speak for Nigerian Christians. Their position remains very unpopular among the persecuted church in the North. Only CAN is vested with such powers, notwithstanding the constitutional rights of the two men to air their opinions on any national issues.

“Therefore, Cardinal Onaiyekan and Bishop Kukah do not speak for Nigerian Christians, not even for CAN in any of the 19 Northern states. What they are saying is their personal opinion that does not take into consideration the plight of the victims.”

CAN further expressed surprise that JNI ascribed the title of ‘Pastor’ to Mr. Paul Unongo, insisting that “Unongo does not represent any segment of Christianity because he is not one, agreed he is a well-known son of the Middle Belt.”

Asake maintained that Boko Haram insurgency was a creation of the northern leaders and JNI believed to have strong link with the sect, therefore, the Islamic body must find its way of curbing the menace.

He said: “But JNI should hear this: the Boko Haram insurgency is a snake on their (JNI) thatched roof. It is the Magida, the landlord and his tenant who can device the most effective way of dealing with it.

“Asking the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the Boko Haram members amounts to calling the government to come and kill the snake with a torch. The JNI must begin to query the change in its value system; a system that now makes them spokesperson of a murderous and blood thirsty group without being sensitive to the victims of the sect, a system that allows for the slaughtering of human beings like cows without any remorse.

“CAN will not fail to point out that the present clamour for amnesty to the Boko Haram members by the Sultan and his cohorts is a strategy to drive home the message of reaping from where they did not show. It is a strategy to get a better deal for those they have improvised for years. By canvassing for amnesty to blood-thirsty, Islamic fundamentalists who have killed without provocation, the JNI is promoting the culture of crass impunity that desecrates the sanctity of human life.

“The earlier it (JNI) retraces its steps and begins to fish out the fundamentalists among them the better for our dear country.”

Asake called on President Jonathan “to as a matter of urgency to dismiss the whole idea of amnesty for an unrepentant group, because it would be a panacea for confusion in the country”, adding that issue of victims of the sect should be taken with seriousness before any step taken further.

The cleric urged Christians to pray while making effort to defend themselves, “since Boko Haram does not see anything wrong with their style of Jihad against the Church, all we can do now is to pray, while making efforts to defend ourselves and communities.”

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