By Emeka Okafor
The National Coordinator, Christians Rights Group, Nigeria (CRGN), Pastor Tareri Avwomakpa, has cautioned the Director of Muslims Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof. Ishaq Akintola, to stop dividing Nigeria along religious lines.
It also warned the Muslims rights activist to stop the continued harassment of Christians while lawfully propagating their faith.
Avwomakpa, a lawyer, condemned in strong terms the recent comment by Prof Akintola urging authorities of the Nigerian Ports Authority to stop members of Christ Embassy Church from turning its premises to Christians camps.
Akintola, in the said report, alleged that distributing Christians handbills and leaflets at the premises NPA and train stations are plots to christianize the country.
But in a statement on Sunday, Pastor Avwomakpa, Coordinator of Christians Rights Group, Nigeria (CRGN) warned the MURIC boss exercise restraint and conduct himself and his organisation within the rule of law in his desire to advance the cause of of Islam in Nigeria.
The CRGN Coordinator maintained that the action of those being accused by the Muslims activist was lawful under section 38 of the Nigeria Constitution which guarantees freedom to propagate one’s religion.
“Mr. Ishaq Akintola should desist from further insulting the sensibilities of Christians and other well-meaning Nigerians.
“From the inception of the President Muhamadu Buhari’s administration in 2015 Mr Ishaq Akintola has made several publications that have deepened the religious divides between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.
“He has by his comments advocated the advancement of jihad in the form of appointing only Muslims as heads of government agencies as well as violent killings of occupants of Christian communities and taking over their lands in several villages in the North East, North Central, and other hitherto peaceful parts of Nigerian which the jihadists could not conquer before independence”, the statement read.
Avwomakpa, a senior pastor with Christ Missionaries Crusaders Church in Delta State, called on the Federal Government to interrogate the Muslim cleric in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s
61st Independence Day speech that his administration would go after all leaders who instigate violence by their utterances.
“If the president and his handlers were sincere to the Nigerian people, the MURIC Director and the likes of Sheik Gumi, the Islamic cleric should have been cautioned and dealt with by today.
“Unfortunately the government has continued to maintain double standards in addressing these issues. The practice today is that when Muslim leaders make inflammatory statements or issue direct threats leading to the death of christians the government and its security agencies keep mute.
“However when christians rise up to condemn the killings and venture to retaliate such cruel killings, the government springs up to condemn us counter-attack and deployed the military who have often been accused of religious biases.
“The the DSS suddenly rises up to invite and interrogate christian leaders for speaking up against such killings. You cannot run a divisive government in a multi ethno-religious nation like Nigeria and expect the people to live in peace and harmony. Nobody has a monopoly on violence.
“This accounts for the different uprisings in nigeria today. The likes of Mr Ishaq Akintola should have long been arrested and prosecuted for making decisive and inflammatory remarks which have caused setback to the unity of Nigeria.
“Noticeably, political leaders and military dictators of the Muslim faith who have had opportunity to lead Nigeria have continually acted in contravention of the terms agreed upon by the founding fathers and the colonial masters as bases for a United Nigeria in the process leading to the attainment of Independence on 1st October, 1960.
Assuming that the MURIC Director be taken seriously in his outbursts that sharing Christians handbills in public transport facilities is an agenda to christianize Nigeria, may I remind him that it is unconstitutional to print Islamic Arabic inscription in the Nigerian currency.
“He should be reminded that it is also unconstitutional to have Islamic Arabic inscriptions in the logo of the Nigerian Army. It is unconstitutional to register Nigeria as a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference using state funds.
“It is unlawful for a Governor to deploy state funds to build mosques and to finance the breaking of fast during Ramadan. It is unconstitutional and a threat to the unity of Nigeria to implement Sharia law beside Sharia personal law in any part of Nigeria.
“It is unlawful for Muslims to vacate their offices and shot government’s institutions during working hours to attend prayers. Nigerian Christians have suffered enough of the harassment and killings. The MURIC Director and his sponsors should put a end to their actions and let sleeping dog lie”, Avwomakpa added.