— The demand for a religious balance in the nomination of the leaders of the 9th National Assembly by the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has been countered by the Muslim counterpart; the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA.
— The group also accused the CAN leadership of preaching hatred against Muslims, as well as disparity against Muslims in the past appointments.
In a statement released and signed by Salisu Shehu, the Deputy Secretary-General of the group, he described CAN’s call as “indecorous, ill-advised, ill-motivated and only aimed at polarising the country.”
He challenged the sincerity of CAN and suggested that based on its recent interventions in the nation’s political affairs, CAN should rather metamorphose into a political party.
In a statement released earlier by CAN, it stated that: “Although both the Senate and the House of Representatives have several principal officers, our focus here are the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. ”
“As it has been the practice since 1999, whenever the Senate President is a Christian, the Speaker of the House has always been a Muslim and vice- versa. And the same thing happens to their deputies.”
But the NSCIA group has responded by saying that it was surprised by CAN’s reference to Constitutional provisions to back its claim, asking whether the Constitution was not in use when Goodluck Jonathan, David Mark, Ike Ekweremadu and Justice Katsina Alu served in the same administration as President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President and Chief Justice respectively.
The statement reads in part; “Given the trajectory of the recent activities of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), like other informed groups and people in Nigeria, cannot but wonder whether CAN still remains a religious body or a political party in a religious garb. The Council is persuaded to believe the latter because of the Association’s posture as the counterfoil for and opposition to everything Islam and Muslims in this country.
“We cannot also but wonder whether Islamophobia has indeed not replaced the more important responsibility of giving direction to millions of our compatriots who are law-abiding citizens of the Christian faith. It is really benumbing that CAN appears to be giving credence and relevance to the rhetorical question asked centuries ago: “if gold rust, what should iron do?
NSCIA further traced evidences back to the leadership of the nation’s National Assembly prior to 1999, saying the chronicle has always shown imbalance to the detriment of Muslims.
According to the statement, the Muslim group said it welcomed the reference to constitutional provisions by its Christian counterpart, urging the federal government to conduct a census of all ministries, departments and agencies of government including higher institutions and see whether Muslims would constitute up to 30 per cent of principal officers.
NSCIA also condemned the composition of the National Peace Committee and the alleged disposition of many of its members against Islam and Muslims.
It accused the CAN leadership of preaching hatred against Muslims and advised the religious group to desist from causing confusion and divisions based on what it described as personal and selfish interest.
It also accused CAN leadership of mounting pressure on judges on the election petition appeal panels to tilt the scales of judgements in favour of Christian candidates, and advised the judges to be fair and firm in the execution of their tasks.
“It is hypocritical for CAN and its alter egos to claim to be on the side of justice by forming the ‘National Peace Committee’ which is not surprisingly dominated by Christian clergymen. The pretense of the ‘Peace Committee’ had been exposed by the various comments/actions of their prominent members. For instance, a member, prior to the last election, took a partisan posture masquerading as a good doer and incited the people of Southern Kaduna against the government while another member, despite his level of education, could not avail himself of historical facts but rather chose to spit the dummy that “the low turnout at the gubernatorial election was a loud protest against the outcome of the 2019 presidential polls”. All these are not surprising as it is on record that CAN itself had maliciously referred to President Muhammadu Buhari as a ‘bad product.’
“The NSCIA is also well-informed of the surreptitious pressure CAN is mounting on Christian judges serving in the various election petition tribunals across the country, under a pseudo-Christian organization, to ensure the victory of Christians and/or their sympathΥizers,” the statement read.