PRESS CONFERENCE: UNFOLDING AGENDA AGAINST CHRISTIANITY IN NIGERIA
Kingdomnewsng.com, Jan 15 2014 | 02:07pm
ISSUES OF THE MOMENT:
UNFOLDING AGENDA AGAINST CHRISTIANITY IN NIGERIA
I am compelled, as a Christian and as the president of the Christian Welfare Initiative (CWI), and also as the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), South West Zone, to draw the attention of the entire citizenry of this country, as well as other nations in the world, to the growing threat to the lives and properties of Christians in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
We affirm that Nigeria is a secular society in which all the citizens have free right to live, work, and express their faith according to their individual convictions. If the secularity of Nigeria has in any way been reviewed or modified, we are not aware. The Constitution of Nigeria guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and the right to worship God according to individual conviction.
We are however disturbed, and very alarmed, at the rate and consistency with which Christians are being slaughtered in northern Nigeria, in a manner similar to the genocide in Rwanda. The brutality, cruelty and inhuman manner in which Nigerian Christians are being systematically and consistently slaughtered by individuals claiming to be adherents of the Islamic faith has reached an alarming proportion that we are compelled to speak out. THIS IS INHUMAN!
In the northern parts of the country, these individuals and groups of individuals have been operating for years with reckless impunity and without regard to law and order, or respect to the right of other Nigerians to live and express their faith in God according to their choice.
To mention but a few of such instances:
$1. On 10th March, 2010, Islamic terrorists slaughtered 501 Christians in the village of Dogo Nahawa, Jos.
$2. On 7th July, 2012, Fulani Islamic terrorists slaughtered 67 Christians around 7.00 a.m. in Wase, Riyom Local Government, Plateau State.
$3. On 14th May, 2013, Rev. Faye Pama, the Secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria in Borno State, was shot and killed by members of the Boko Haram inside his house in Maiduguri.
$4. On 6th July, 2013, Boko Haram militants attacked Government Secondary School, Mamudo, Yobe state and killed over 42 students as they slept in the dormitory.
$5. Again on Sunday 29th September, 2013, Boko Haram insurgents attacked College of Agriculture in Gujba, Yobe state and killed over 40 students as they slept in the dormitory.
$6. In Nasarawa state, over 90 Christians were killed by Fulani herdsmen in 2013 in various attacks in Doma and Lafia Local Governments.
$7. On 10th November, 2013, over 36 Christians were killed in the Agatu Local Government Area of Benue state while over 6,000 Christians were displaced.
As Boko Haram causes mayhem all over the North killing Christians and destroying Christian properties, the Fulani herdsmen are on rampage all over the nation killing people at will, with a high concentration of their atrocities in the Middle Belt. The Fulani herdsmen are fast becoming notorious as harbinger of destruction wherever they lead their cattle to, in the Middle Belt, South West and in the South East. It is quite amazing that these Fulani herdsmen are yet to be convicted of mass murder.
It equally disheartening that even moderate Muslims that do not seem to support these agents of death and destruction are also targeted and killed by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group. It is very unfortunate that innocent students are also massacred by these terrorists. While attacks have been reported against moderate Muslims that do not support these insurgents, it is clear to the whole world that the main target of these terrorist attacks by both Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen are the Christians in Nigeria.
While some mischievous elements in the media have attempted portraying these killings as ethnic or socio-economic related clashes, clashes, the patterns of the attacks confirm that it is a religious war, patterned after the Islamic Jihad. According to the World Watch List, “The majority of the incidents of conflicts that have been reported in the international media as ‘clashes’ between Muslims and Christians in actual fact have been one-sided violence against Christians.”
As a result of these crises, thousands of Christian men, women and children have been murdered, thousands of children have become orphans, thousands of women are widowed, thousands of children are fatherless, while innumerable Christian men and women have been maimed and mutilated. It is unbelievable that in this age and period, human beings could descend to such level of inhuman barbarity and cruelty while claiming divine mandate.
Nigerian citizens have been hacked to death with machete, their throats have been slit with knives like rams, their heads have been severed from their necks with the saw carpenters use on wood, the barrel of AK 47 has been placed on their nose before being fired, the stomach of pregnant women were ripped open with knives, they have been burnt alive, and all manners of unprintable atrocities have been committed by some Nigerian citizens against other Nigerian citizens all in the name of expanding a religion.
In the states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Plateau, Benue, Bauchi, Kogi, Niger, Nassarawa, Taraba, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, individuals and groups of individuals, claiming Islamic injunction, have been routinely killing, bombing, maiming and mutilating Christians. Properties of Christians are being destroyed and their places of worship as well as business locations are routinely burnt and destroyed. The situation reached a crescendo that the Federal Government was compelled to impose a State of Emergency in the states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa on 14th May, 2013. Despite the State of Emergency, the Islamic terrorists did not relent in their attacks.
According to 2013 World Watch List report, 66% of Christians killed globally, were Nigerian Christians killed in Nigeria.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THIS DISTRESS?
As distressing as the present scenario in the nation is, what is more distressing is the valid information that the bloodshed we are witnessing today is the culmination of a carefully planned agenda to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state and Africa as an Islamic continent. Members of the Boko Haram clearly announce that their objective is to Islamize Nigeria.
We are aware that a meeting was held many years ago to strategize on Islamizing Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. We are also aware that eradication of Christian groups resistant to Islamic conversion was advocated in a conference held in Abuja in 1989 by the Islam in Africa Organization. That Islamic agenda is unfolding before our eyes today.
We wish to use this medium to alert Christians in Nigeria, particularly in the South West, that there is an Islamic Agenda that has been launched against Nigeria, and the trend of events seems to point in the direction of the South West as the next battle ground. There seems to be a gradual plot to make Islam the dominant religion in the South West. We cannot understand why the political party that is currently ruling in the South West fielded mostly Muslims as its governorship candidates. 80% of the governors of this political party in the South West are Muslims. It is a gross imbalance that must be redressed without delay.
To add to our apprehension, the governor of Osun State, Governor Aregbesola, has commenced taking decisions and introducing policies that are clearly anti-Christian. Osun state under Governor Aregbesola is not hiding its intolerance and disdain for the Christian faith. Recently, as a direct result of his policies, a Christian secondary school in Osun state was invaded by Muslims and the Principal of the Baptist school was nearly beaten into a state of coma. It is by a stroke of divine intervention that the Principal did not die. To date, we are yet to witness the prosecution of the Muslims who perpetrated that dastardly act.
Christians in Nigeria should be warned not to underestimate the unfolding Islamic Agenda in the country. Historically, nations like Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, and so on, were Christian nations before they were overran by Islam. Not only were they overrun by Islam, their culture and governance was taken over by Arabs. If a nation like Turkey could be Islamized, Christians in Nigeria should not assume that the Islamization Agenda is an idle threat.
It is pertinent to advise Christians in the South West, who have concluded that the South West is immune to such attacks, that they should study carefully what is unfolding in Osun State. Developments in Osun state clearly confirm that there is cause for concern.
We wish to state clearly that those of us who are Christians in Nigeria, SHALL NOT RENOUNCE CHRISTIANITY, AND NEITHER SHALL WE CONVERT TO ISLAM. We are Christians by choice, and we choose to remain Christians.
We are persuaded that no human being needs to be forced or coerced to accept a gift. A gift that comes with a sword as an alternative is a questionable gift. It is a suspicious gift. Every gift speaks for itself and forceful persuasion becomes unnecessary. Any faith that is a gift and a blessing does not require forceful coercion to make people accept it.
Nigeria belongs to every Nigerian and we advocate peaceful coexistence of all the various groups in the nation. Whoever wishes to be a Muslim should remain a Muslim and whoever wishes to remain a Christian should remain a Christian. Each man should live according to the convictions of his heart without intimidation or oppression from any other group.
POLITICS OF RELIGION
In the midst of the present crisis, it is disturbing to observe the creeping emergence of politics of religion in Nigeria. It is becoming worrisome that religion is gradually becoming the defining factor in politics in the country.
We are also disturbed by the consistent intensity with which Muslim politicians seek to destabilize the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. We clearly remember that before his election, certain Muslim politicians threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable for him should he exercise his constitutional right of seeking election as the President of Nigeria. Events that have unfolded after his election, starting with the Post-Election Violence in 2011, prove that it was not an idle threat. We appeal to our fellow Muslim citizens that are determined to cause problem in the nation, that Nigeria belongs to both Christians and Muslims. Every Nigerian has the constitutional right to seek elective office and no one should be harassed or intimidated for doing so.
In addition, we are observing the emergence of political gatherings with conflicting signals about its religious intent. As Christians, we welcome an all-inclusive political party that will protect the interests of all the citizens of this country, irrespective of tribe, religion, or social status. The unfortunate religious persecution in the northern parts of Nigeria is an eye-opener and calls for caution in establishing political associations. The current imbalance in the religious structure in the North of Nigeria that is gradually being replicated in the South West demands serious attention by all leaders of the church in Nigeria.
Undoubtedly, the unbalanced control of the political machinery by a religion in the northern parts of Nigeria is at the bedrock of the current religious intolerance that is plaguing the region. To have such structure replicated at any other zone in the country should be of grave concern to every Nigerian.
Therefore, at the Christian Welfare Initiative (CWI) and the Christians Association of Nigeria, (CAN), South West, we recommend as follows:
$1· Christians all over Nigeria and in the South West in particular, should embark on prayer and fasting from 14th January – 14th February, 2014 for the church in Nigeria and for the nation. Prayers should be mobilized that every conspiracy that has been conceived against Christians in Nigeria shall fail. We are aware that some denominations are already running prayer and fasting program. We simply request that prayers for the church and for the issues raised in this press conference should be included in their prayers.
$2· Christians all over Nigeria should pray fervently that the religious carnage in the North of Nigeria shall be eliminated rather than it being replicated in other parts of the nation.
$3· We call on Nigeria's President, the Inspector General of Police and the Governors of the states where mass murders are being committed to come up with effective and proactive policing strategies to ensure that no Nigerian Citizen or village becomes a soft target for the harbingers of terror. The use of technology, (Drones and CCTV) for surveillance and rapid response purposes by Security agents should be employed.
$4· We wish to inform our Muslim relatives in the South West that any Islamic violence in Yoruba land portends grave danger, not only to the Christians, but also to the Muslims. Sometime in 2013, when the terrorists from the North attempted to blow up the 3rd Mainland Bridge in Lagos, they did not make plans to evacuate Muslims from the impending disaster. If they had succeeded, they would have killed both Christians and Muslims. As we see in the North, Boko Haram is killing both Christians and Muslims. Therefore, Muslims in the South West should join the clarion call that the secularity of the South West must be maintained. No Yoruba man or woman will profit from any Islamization Agenda in the South West. For our sake and for the sake of our descendants, we must maintain the delicate balance of our society so that Yorubaland does not become the next Syria, Iraq, or Somalia. It is a common saying with our people that “we shall not adopt insanity with religion”. What is going on in the North of Nigeria must be prevented from taking place in the South West.
$5· Christians in the South West must raise their voices and demand that the next governor of Lagos State in 2015 must be a genuine Christian. After 16 years of Muslim governors, it is only fair, that the next governor should be a Christian. This is in keeping with the secular nature of the nation and maintains the delicate balance in our society.
$6· We are equally concerned about the gradual Islamization of the civil service structure in states where the Governor is a Muslim. There is a visible lopsided appointment of Directors, Permanent Secretaries, and heads of Parastatals in favor of Muslims. This is the scenario in the 12 Sharia states in northern Nigeria and it is disturbing that it is being replicated in the South West. It must be reversed immediately, in the best interest of our people.
$7· Competent Christians who are called by God into politics and governance are urged to come forth and vie for political offices in the land. The reluctance of Christians to get involved in politics and governance is no longer in the best interest of the church.
$8· We wish to call on the Federal Government to ensure the payment of compensation to Christian victims of the various Islamic persecutions in the northern parts of the country. A credible channel to disburse the compensation should be established by the government to ensure that genuine victims of these attacks are adequately compensated.
$9· Leaders of the various Christian denominations/ministries are encouraged to meet and deliberate on the various issues that are affecting both the church and the nation. We shall soon be inviting Leaders of the various Christian denominations/ministries to a meeting to deliberate on the various issues that are affecting both the church and the nation, we appeal this invitation should be taken seriously. We are at a crucial stage in the history of this nation and Godly leadership is required to enable the nation overcome the present challenges.
$10· We are also urging Christians all over the nation to ensure that they register and ensure that they exercise their constitutional right of voting at the next elections for candidates that will primarily, ensure the secularity of the Nigerian state as well as promote righteousness in governance. This nation was conceived as a secular state that will provide equal opportunities for all the citizens irrespective of the tribe or religious affiliation.
Finally, we wish to assure every citizen of Nigeria that Christians are committed to peaceful coexistence and we urge every citizen of Nigeria to adopt the same attitude. We affirm the secularity of the Nigerian state and it must remain so.
Archbishop Magnus Atilade
President, Christian Welfare Initiative (CWI)
Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), South-West Zone