The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC called out Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah to resign from the General Abdul Salaam-led National Peace Committee. This call was made through a statement signed by the director of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
Recall that Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah had in his Christmas day message to Nigerians stated that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government owes Nigerians an explanation over the killings of innocent people in the country.
He maintained that the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to address the nation’s problems, and that the administration policies have worsened the country’s socio-economic and political condition.
“The spilling of blood across the country must be related to a more sinister plot that is beyond the people’s comprehension”, he said.
In his view, the North has not been spared by the socio-economic and political woes that have enveloped the nation, as the region has been the worst for it.
He lamented that, “against the backdrop of our endless woes, ours has become a nation wrapped in desolation. The prospects of a failed state stares us in the face with endless bloodletting, a collapsing economy, social anomie, domestic and community violence, kidnappings and armed robberies, among others.”
On handling of the deplorable security situation and economic woes in Nigeria Kukah said: “Ours has become a house of horror, with fear stalking our homes, highways, cities, hamlets and entire communities.
“The middle grounds of optimism have continued to shift and many genuinely ask, what have we done to the gods? Does Nigeria have a future? Where can we find hope? Like the Psalmist, we ask; from where shall come our help?
“Whatever the temptations to despair, we cannot give up. When the Psalmist asked where help shall come from, he answered that it will come from the Lord. Therefore, like Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, we Priests must stand before the mercy seat of God and plead the cause of our great country. Like Abraham, we must plead for the Lord to save our nation, because we have more than ten righteous men.”
“These are trying but life changing moments in the history of our nation. Politics and economics alone will not resolve our problems.
In a reaction to Kukah’s Christmas day message, , Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture urged religious leaders in the country to refrain from stoking the embers of hatred and disunity, warning that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences.
MURIC has also reacted to these statements, MURIC asked the Bishop kuKah to recuse himself from the Abdul Salaam-led Peace Committee, arguing that his pronouncements are inconsistent with the Bishop’s status particularly as the secretary of Nigeria’s Peace Committee.
“How did such a belligerent combatant emerge as the secretary of Nigeria’s Peace Committee? What good can come from a man who is filled with hate and bias for a large section of the country?
He calls for a coup against a democratically elected government. He stigmatized Islam as a violent religion. He derides the North. We demand that Kukah should honourably recuse himself from the Peace Committee. Failure to do so will have a devastating effect of discrediting that committee.
It will mean that the committee was set up in the first place for a partisan purpose.
“This is because many see Bishop Kukah as the de facto leader of the Committee. The Peace Committee must clarify some issues surrounding its formation and modus operandi. Whose idea was the whole thing from the beginning? Where is the committee’s secretariat? Is it true that the whole committee was Kukah’s initiative ab initio? Is it also true that its secretariat is headed and managed by the director of the Kukah Center? If that is so, General Abdulsalam must have been persuaded to come on board and serve as the chairman just to give legitimacy and credibility to the idea.
“This Peace Committee has a credibility crisis on its hands unless it can remove Kukah as secretary and as a member if the bishop fails to recuse himself. Nigerian Muslims no longer have any confidence in the Peace Committee. It may as well disband while the members go home to sleep.
“This is the honourable thing for the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese to do in view of the humongous allegation levelled against him. A national peace committee needs wide acceptance from the general populace in order to function effectively. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the true situation on the ground at present.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that the secretary of any organization is its livewire. He keeps their records and writes their reports. A man who is heavily biased against one faith cannot be trusted to prepare a fair report on interfaith issues. That position is too sensitive to be left in the office of a firebrand missionary known for his emotional outbursts.
“The silence of the Peace Committee since the Kukah controversy began is also disturbing. A peace committee whose secretary comes out with blazing guns firing from all cylinders at a section of the country and calls for a coup while its members keep mute gives cause for concern. It gives the impression that the secretary is holding members of the committee to ransom. He calls the shots. Afterall, any statement to be issued by the committee, ceteris paribus, is expected to be prepared by the same secretary. Here comes the hard nut.
“Nigerian Muslims have no confidence in the Peace Committee as long as Kukah remains its secretary and member. He has failed to remain neutral. His bias against Muslims has been openly displayed. Rev. Fr. Kukah should recuse himself, otherwise, the committee has to disband.
“This has become necessary in view of the jaundiced position taken by the Catholic mission yesterday in an official statement. Nigerian Catholics declared their full backing of the preposterous pronouncements of Bishop Kukah. In that situation, it is no longer acceptable to leave the destiny of the Peace Committee in the hands of the Catholic Bishop.
“The question must be asked: who is the secretary of the Peace Committee? Kukah or the Catholic Diocese? A situation whereby Kukah issues a highly combustible statement and the Nigerian Catholic Mission backs him calls for caution.
“MURIC suggests an immediate review of the composition and operation of the Peace Committee. The secretariat of the Peace Committee must be moved out of the Kukah Centre. A neutral place must be found. In addition, a neutral person who is not head or official of any religious group or a person known for making volatile statements must be made head of its secretariat. The Peace Committee may also consider coopting a co-chairman who must be a Christian since the current chairman is a Muslim. This will engender balance.
“We call on the Chairman and members of the Peace Committee to take these suggestions seriously in order to retain the respect it currently enjoys. A stitch in time saves nine. Immediate consultations and proper advice will save the committee from any embarrassment in future,” MURIC’s statement read in part.