By Luminous Jannamike
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has described as shameful the decision of the federal government not to caution renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, over alleged religious profiling of military personnel combating bandits in parts of the country.
Recall that Gumi was reportedly quoted as saying: What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and non-Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite crisis.’
But, the apex Christian body expressed disappointment that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government was “afraid” to condemn Gumi allegations and investigate him unlike it did in the cases of some Christian leaders who have been caught in the web of controversial remarks related to the pervasive insecurity in the land since the administration began in 2015.
CAN’s General-Secretary, Barrister Joseph Daramola, said this in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday.
Daramola also said Nigeria’s unity was on trial, warning that if those running the country play the ostrich, there may be no hope of redemption.
CAN said: “We express our pain and disappointment in one Islamic leader, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi over his alleged profiling of military operatives recently while addressing some bandits in Tegina forest, a border town between Niger and Kaduna States.
“We call on Gumi to immediately withdraw the unpatriotic and divisive utterances credited to him in the interest of peace and unity of this country.
“If anyone said it was the Christian soldiers who are attacking armed bandits, that person does not wish this country well and he doesn’t want the war against terrorism and banditry to end in victory.
“This unreasonable outburst is not only demoralizing and a plot to divide the Nigerian military into two along religious lines, it equally derogatively portrays the non-Christian soldiers as being not committed to fighting criminality.
“Gumi’s so-called audio evidence cannot be taken seriously because audio evidence can be deliberately arranged to make a point.
“However, we still want to believe that Sheikh Gumi was quoted out of context. But if the remark credited to him were true, then, the unity and peace of the country are being threatened by the sentimental statement of this cleric. Such a grave allegation is evil, divisive, unpatriotic, ill-wind and reprehensible
“We have not heard the Presidency react to this dangerous statement as they are supposed to do, cautioning this cleric who has thrown caution to the wind.
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“President Muhammadu Buhari’s prolonged silence is tantamount to an endorsement of Gumi’s dangerous statement.
“If what Gumi reportedly said was attributed to a Christian leader, the security operatives would have invited him or declared him wanted and the Presidency would have publicly condemned that Christian leader.
“We recall how Apostle Johnson Suleiman, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, Prophet Isa El-Buba and of recent, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah’s statements were handled by security operatives and equally reacted to by the government. Do we truly have sacred cows in the country now?
“We are curious to know how Gumi was able to locate the whereabouts of the bandits when our security agencies are giving us the impression that they are invincible.
“If the terrorists can be located, what hinders the police and the military from arresting them and bringing them to book? Is anyone in government conniving with the terrorists so that this insecurity might continue?
“Now that bandits are being pampered, money is being made available to them and highly respected politicians and religious leaders are speaking for them, criminals are being emboldened to commit their unlawful actions with impunity.
“Nigeria’s unity is on trial and if those running the country are playing the ostrich, there may be no hope of redemption. May God save our nation.
“The country belongs to Muslims, Christians and the unbelievers and any attempt to divide us against one another by any cleric or through the over-zealous divisive actions of those in government may spell doom for all of us. CAN hereby calls for caution and restraint from all of us.”