An Islamic group has slammed Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, for his Christmas Day “attack” on the Muhammadu Buhari government.
Kukah had, in a December 25 message, said the Buhari government was leading Nigeria into darkness. The Christian cleric said Buhari would have lost the support of Nigerians in the north if he was a president from the country’s south.
But Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) Kukah over the message, adding that it was a veiled attack on Muslims.
The JNI, in a statement signed by Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, Secretary-General, and issued to journalists in Kaduna on Wednesday, described Kukah’s message as a veiled attack on Muslims and Islam and “an irresponsible and seditious Christmas message”.
“Though the message is disguised as political hogwash to deceive the innocent, there is no doubt that it was a poisoned arrow fired at the heart of Islam and Muslims in Nigeria, hence the need for this intervention,” JNI secretary-general Khalid Abubakat Aliyu said in a statement issued in Kaduna on Wednesday.
JNI said Kukah’s statement was a prepared address considering the occasion and the audience, “one cannot but agree that it was a calculated attempt to insult Islam which is typical of him. His veiled insinuation that Muslims have a pool of violence to draw from, is disgusting, disheartening, as well as condemnable.”
JNI argued that responsibly, Christmas homilies should come with messages of hope, unity, mercy, the forgiveness of the Supreme Being, and resilience through prayers, especially in this trying time.
“The bishop’s message was however a clear deviation from the well-established norm across the globe,” JNI said.
“Kukah is the bishop of the Sokoto Diocese located at the seat of the caliphate and the heart of Islam and Islamic scholarship, culture, and practices in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Despite the status of Sokoto to the Muslims and Islamic history, Bishop Kukah was warmly welcomed, accepted, accommodated, and accorded respect deserving of his position as a religious leader.
“Across the length and breadth of Northern Nigeria, Kukah has friends and associates among the Muslim society.
“Without fear of any contradiction, he is most accepted and accommodated Christian clergy to the leaders of the Muslims in the north.
“They accorded him all the support he needed, despite some reservations from some quarters about his tendencies to bite the fingers that feed him.
“Despite the liberality, congeniality, and the camaraderie extended to Bishop Kukah in Sokoto and all over the Muslim north, he throws all sense of decorum and common sense to the wind and fired invective salvos on the Muslims and Islam without any justification.
“By this and his several similar inane attacks against Islam and the Muslims, the bishop has lost the friendship and the hospitality of the entire Muslim populace. How can the Muslims ever trust a man who smiles at their faces in the day and holds a dagger against them in the night? How can the Muslims continue to be hospitable to the one who proves to be ingrate many times over? How can the Muslims be comfortable in associating with a bitterly vindictive person disguised in the garb of religious clergy?”
The organisation described Kukah’s message as a veiled attack on Islam, made to look like an attack on President Buhari.
“The bishop cannot pretend to be attacking President Buhari and end up punching Islam and the Muslims,” JNI said.
“We will never accept to be used as a punching bag of the vindictive bishop. It is mind-boggling to imagine why Bishop Kukah is always keen on pushing at the National fault lines; religion, tribe, and north-south divide?
“His fiery and equally violent inciting speech at the burial of the late Governor Yakowa of Kaduna State is still fresh in our memories.
“That speech which was aimed at electrifying the atmosphere drew the eerie of many reasonable Nigerians across religious and regional divides.
“The late Abubakar Gimba of blessed memory wrote thus: However, the atmospherics of his speech at Yakowa’s burial sounded differently.
“The many references to religious bigots, dubious religious manipulations, members of the nefarious mafia whose selfishness hindered the development of Kaduna State in particular and the north in general, one of the worst shows of selfishness by an unproductive and selfish cabal who have deployed religion to hide their goal, and those who have projected Islam as a basis for power, created the condition that now threatens the foundation of our society, are all tailored for, and directly targeted at Muslims, to make them fit for the gallows of culpability, and painting them as unquestionable candidates for the hangman’s noose.
“In my great respect for the bishop, I still do not believe he would come down from his episcopal ladder to the level of the young dentist of India. Yet, I see this erudite clergyman, whose wisdom I admire, in a double attire: beneath the adornment of his clericals.
“The above depicted the bishop as a person with the habit of inciting violence, an action that is clearly against his calling as priest as his fellow Christian Dr Uche Diala puts it in his article. The priest, especially the Catholic priest and indeed the high priest as the bishop represents is an eternal conciliator and reconciliation. A messenger of peace. His words must always portray to engender love, peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, and unity.
“The priest must always be seen to be on the side of the truth, never to take sides, except to side the downtrodden, weak, and helpless. He must speak truth to power just like Christ did but must not play to the gallery or be tempted to become populist.
“Bishop Kukah should not take Muslims kindness for timidity or foolishness. In being accommodative and kind, the Muslims are adhering to the teaching of the glorious Quran that even in times of war the Muslims should offer assistance to those who seek their protection. Quran chapter 9 verse 6 is categorical on this.
“And if one of the Mushrikun (disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the Word of Allah (the Quran), and then escort him to where he can be secure, that is because they are men who know not. Quran 9:6.
“The Muslims kind nature should not be taken for granted, because our Prophet (Peace be upon him) has warned that a Muslim should not allow himself to be ridiculed where he said believer should not be stung twice in the same hole (Hadith).
“Kukah and his likes who enjoys the pleasure of denigrating Islam and Muslims at any slightest opportunity should have lowered their gourd, to have some peace of mind because the spark which Islam kindles can never be extinguished. Authorities more ferocious, more organized, and more persistent than Kukah, have all tried to denigrate Islam but alas Islam and Muslims have remained consistently triumphant – Alhamdulillah.
“Vituperations such as Kukah’s is what is making Islam waxing stronger globally, that today it is the fastest-growing religion, the world over. Can’t the Kukah and his cohorts ponder over this? Can’t they see that despite ganging, blackmailing, stigmatisation, and excessive campaign of calumny against Islam, the religion is making waves into areas where other ideologies and beliefs are rejected?
“To this end, we call on all Muslims to continue to remain calm in the face of these provocations to deny conflict entrepreneurs disguised as clergies the avenue to market their stock.
“Muslims are enjoined to continuously uphold the teachings of Islam, especially in regards to accommodativeness, conviviality, and hospitality. Let’s continue to relate well with our peace-loving Christian neighbors and colleagues regardless of the vituperations of some misguided elements among them.
“We beseech Allah to protect us, secure our environments and make peace to reign and radiate right from our hearts till it encompasses all aspects of our lives and our societies.”