Frontline Nigerian government critic and a former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode has given a strong warning to the Muslim Forum saying any attack on Bishop Hassan Kukah would spiral out of control and beyond anyone’s expectation if not properly managed.
Fani-Kayode blasts those fuelling the criticisms against the Sokoto cleric and asking him to leave Sokoto state, describing them as an enemy of Nigeria and undermining the great work done by the Sultan of Sokoto in ensuring harmonious co-existence am long Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.
In an essay obtained by Vanguard on his social media page, Fani-Kayode noted that if the issue is not properly handled, it might result in a serious religious crisis which will further stretch the Nigerian government’s capacity to deal with.
The essay reads in part:
“It is most disconcerting when a handful of mischievous, reckless dangerous and hopelessly misguided religious zealots and ethnic bigots that ought to know better issue threats and give quit notices and ultimatums to leading members of the Christian community like Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.”
“This is disappointing and unacceptable and, if not handled properly, has the potential of leading to a major religious conflagration and crisis. I say this because Kukah is deeply loved by millions from all over the country and the Christian community rever and adore him.
The Muslim Solidarity Forum is seeking to undermine the great work that the Sultan of Sokoto has achieved in creating peace in the Caliphate between Christians and Muslims over the last few years.”
“I oppose those Muslims that issue quit notices and threats against Christians and their fellow Nigerians just as I am against any Christian or Christian group that issue quit notices and threats or give ultimatums to members of the Muslim community. We must all learn to get on with one another and avoid any inflammatory language or unnecessary confrontations.
“I say this because Nigeria belongs to us all. No-one has the right to tell another to leave his territory simply because he delivered a sermon which sought to highlight the failings and dangers of the Buhari government. As a matter of fact, no-one has the right to ask his fellow Nigerian to leave his territory for ANY reason.
“Bishop Kukah made a lot of sense in his homily and he spoke for millions. For anyone to now describe it as an attack or insult on Islam is dishonest, disingenuous and deceitful.
“For them to go a step further and threaten him and say he must apologise or leave Sokoto is not only highly provocative but also extremely reckless and dangerous. And the truth is that those that have threatened him are playing with fire.
“Let me be clear, nothing must happen to Kukah because if it does the consequences will be grave, horrendous, calamitous, catastrophic, devastating and unimaginable and the entire country would not only be set on fire but would also explode into a thousand pieces.
No-one wants that and no-one prays for it but if Kukah is harmed or killed Nigeria may not survive it.’
“I do not wish or hope for such a terrible thing to happen and I pray it does not but that is the sad and bitter truth. We must endeavour to ensure that such an apocalyptic scenario never unfolds in our nation by always preaching peace, restraint and understanding and always insisting on non-violence and mutual respect.”
“The truth is that Christians are fed up with being treated like the whipping boy and second class citizens in their own country and we demand to be accorded the same respect that we offer and accord to the Muslims.
“That is the only way to guarantee peace because no one faith has the monopoly of violence. When you keep pushing a man to the wall and spitting in his face, one day he will stand up, call your bluff, say “enough is enough”, damn the consequences and defend himself.
“We must all calm down before it is too late. We must seek to ease the tension and take a deep breath before the whole matter degenerates any further. We must all choose the path of peace, love and mutual understanding.
“We must not allow the extremist on either side of the religious, ethnic and political divide to push us any further apart.
We must make it clear to our Muslim brothers that an attack on Buhari is not an attack on Islam and neither does Buhari represent Islam. He represents only himself and his sinking, incompetent, wicked and evil Government.
“I call on the revered and respected leader of the Muslim community in Nigeria, His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto, a man for whom I have the deepest affection and whom I hold in very high esteem, to call those that are issuing these threats against Kukah to order and to counsel them to desist from doing so.
I call on him to continue to provide the voice of wisdom, love, restraint, mutual understanding and peace that he has provided over the last few years and that we so desperately need today.
Most important of all I call on Bishop Kukah to remain courageous and strong and not allow himself to be intimidated and I call on the Christian community in Nigeria to maintain the peace and to reach out to our Muslim brothers with love and understanding.
The most important thing for us to do in Nigeria today is to ensure that we do not let ethnicity and religion divide us any further.
Mutual respect is important and we must build bridges of understanding, trust and love between Christians and Muslims and between northerners, Middle Belters and southerners.
Permit me to share the Bishop’s exact words. In a Christmas day sermon titled ‘A Nation In Search Of Vindication,’ he said,
“Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what the President has done by his nepotism and got away with it. There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war.”
“Kukah hit the nail on the head. It is no wonder that the Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum have risen up in his defence and publicly commended him for his insight and courage. I am also glad that the Catholic Church and the northern wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have backed him too.
It is a Government that has consistently ignored the admonitions and warnings and closed its ears to the counsel of moderate voices in the core Muslim North led by His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and the likes of forward-thinking, bridge-building and progressive northern leaders like Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state and many others who do not share in the ideology of this government.
“I stand by every word that I have written and permit me to add the following.”
“The sheer depravity and high level of psychosis, paranoia, delusion, insanity, and deceit of the Buhari administration is best reflected by the asinine response that, the Minister of Information, offered to Bishop Kukah in which he accused the cleric of wanting to destabilise the country.”
“Since then some reckless and misguided sponsored groups have called for the arrest and detention of Kukah. They have also insulted and condemned him and threatened his life.”
Be warned that if Kukah is harmed, injured, maimed or killed Nigeria may not survive the mayhem that may befall her.
‘If any of the above happens to him the Biblical ‘east wind of destruction’ will be unleashed and no-one will be able to stop it.”
“I pray that the Government and its surrogates maintain the peace and that they do not do anything to provoke a reaction that they will not be in a position to contain.”
The anger and frustration in the land today is unprecedented and the people are looking for the slightest reason to take to the streets. Few would survive it if they did.
“The blood of Kukah must NOT be spilt, he must NOT be killed, he must NOT be kidnapped and he must NOT be arrested or detained otherwise the consequences will be unfathomable and unimaginable.”
A word is enough for the wise.
Permit me to end this contribution with the following. On January 13th I tweeted,
“Bishop Hassan Kukah did not attack Islam and has nothing to apologise about. He has always sought for religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims. Those that demand that he “must apologise” or “leave Sokoto” must mind their utterances and keep the peace. If anyone can provide me with a video of Kukah calling for violence against Muslims or inciting people against Islam I will give him one million naira”.