By Bolaji O. Akinyemi.
Let me begin with a congratulatory message to His Eminence, Archbishop Daniel Chukwudumebi Okoh, the newly elected President of the Christian Association of Nigeria. Sir, this call is not one of a tea party. Your Presidency is coming at a most challenging time of the Church of Jesus Christ in Nigeria, when the rod of persecution is laid on her back. There is an attack dog organization you need not bother yourself and office about. Threatened by your emergence as the President, they are already barking out lies which is their stock in trade.
I will here respond to Ishaq Akintola and his MURIC with regard to their claim that Islamic terror groups have killed more Muslims than Christians in Nigeria.
Propaganda is a necessary tool in political interests and advancement and I must admit that the partnership of the unofficial Islamic party of Nigeria, APC with her Muslim/Muslim ticket and Muslim Rights Concern led by alarmist Ishaq Akintola in our political space, are both creating inroad for the Islamic State Agitators who neither APC nor MURIC can deny that they are Muslims like them!
MURIC, in her latest alarm mongering says 32,000 Nigerian Muslims have been Killed. This was in a bid to counter US Lawmakers on Christian Persecution in Nigeria.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has revealed that 32,000 Muslims were killed within three years in Nigeria. MURIC however failed to tell the world that the killings were done by men of their faith in their quest for an Islamic State. Something like “Islamic Republic of Nigeria“. That line must have excited Tinubu, Shettima, Akintola, Gumi, Kabiru Sokoto and others for whom kuje prison was broken to beef up war against our sovereign state!
Director of the organisation, Ishaq Akintola, made the claim on Thursday at a media briefing in Lagos in reaction to the request by five US senators for Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, to re-designate Nigeria as a country of particular concern (CPC). MURIC however has not made any comments about the Islamic State Jihadists’ attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, nor have we been told the number of Muslims that were killed inside the church at Owo!
Citing the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state and the lynching of Deborah Samuel, a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, the senators wrote to Blinken, saying there is no “demonstrable improvement in the country’s religious freedom conditions”.
Speaking on Thursday, Akintola accused the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of claiming that only Christians are being killed in Nigeria and lobbying US politicians until the five senators wrote to Blinken. I will like to agree with Akintola in the sense that some Muslims killed themselves in many of the attacks that we have witnessed, detonating body explosive vests to kill themselves and others with them in the process. MURIC should however provide us with statistics of Muslims who took their own lives and that of others with them!
He said the claim that the Federal Government is failing to protect the religious freedom of Christian citizens is a “shameless attempt to upturn the facts of history”, adding that millions of Muslims have faced harassment in southern Nigeria. I am shocked at the twist of narrative from killings to harassment. MURIC seems to be justifying killings of Christians in northern Nigeria for what it calls the “harassment” of their brethren in southern Nigeria. Akintola’s thinking and that of his organization is not different from the reason given by Fulani marauders in Kaduna to Nasir El-Rufai. They “reasonably” stated that the people who elected the Governor as the Chief Security Officer with the primary responsibility of protecting their lives and property are being killed for killing their cows!
“Boko Haram in particular have killed, maimed and displaced more Muslims than Christians, more Muslim clerics and more Muslim traditional rulers have been killed or kidnapped than Christians,” Akintola was quoted to have said.
He added that: “more Muslim majority states are under siege by these terrorists than Christian majority states while more Nigerian Muslims have been impoverished by insecurity than Christians. Insecurity in Nigeria has had greater impact on Muslims more than Christians but our Christian neighbours are standing history on its head.”
Akintola and MURIC can’t be far from the truth, but what they failed to realize is that Islam, in its purest form can only be “practiced” by the Arabs and Fulani. Maybe the desire to see the practice of Islam by the pure Fulani tribes for whom the religion is meant is the reason ‘unpure’ Muslims of indigenous northern tribes in Sokoto, Kastina and Zamfara are being killed!
The statement by MURIC reads further: “The US should not encourage Nigerian Christians who are entangled in a cobweb of entitlement syndrome. Christian leaders are taking advantage of the precarious security situation in Nigeria which has been compounded by the Libya factor.”
Really! If our security situation is compounded by Libya, MURIC and Akintola ought to know that our government is compounded by “Afghanistanism” and the threat of his brethren in Islam to kidnap the patron of Miyetti Allah, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and transform Nigeria to the Islamic Republic of Nigeria should be his concern. How can he conveniently look away from their determination to capture and flog the Governor who brought tax payers’ money to them in their enclaves outside the country?
Akintola challenged the US senators to provide the source of their claim that 4,000 Christians were killed in Nigeria as at 2021, adding that Christian leaders are simply capitalising on the enormity of the security challenges facing Nigeria. What a professorial submission!
The terror attacks unleashed by Islamic terrorists with attendant social crises of 18,000,000 orphans and 15,000,000 out of school children can’t produce 4,000 christian deaths but can produce 32,000 Muslim deaths when those perpetrating the killings are Muslims!
“But the fact remains that 90% of the victims of Boko Haram and ISWAP are Muslims and the operations of these terrorist groups are mainly restricted to the North where Muslims are the majority. Therefore, Muslims constitute majority of the victims of violence in Nigeria. No data can dispute that even if it is from a satellite operating on Jupiter,” he said.
Akintola will find it convenient to stick to the nomenclature ISWAP, but a full expression of Islamic State West Africa Province will unravel the mischievous manipulation of facts that has become the stock in trade of Akintola and his propaganda agency of Islamic State.
“Boko Haram killed 37,500 persons from 2015 to 2018. Of this figure, 32,000 were Muslims, while 5,500 were Christians. This means that 85% of those killed were Muslims. Mosques have been bombed or burned. Imams, Shaykhs and emirs have been abducted and killed. But CAN still wants to deceive the world by claiming that it is Christians alone who are being killed in Nigeria. CAN has lost all credibility.”
CAN indeed has lost credibility if it is now defined in the context of Nigeria, for example the “INTEGRITY” that brought APC and Buhari to power. MURIC’s credibility is like APC exchange rate promise, that 1 naira will be equal to 1 dollar. 1 Christian killed by Islamic Jihadists now equal 1000 imaginary Islamic faithful!
“The reason killing of Christians appear more pronounced is due to difference in burial culture. Nigerian Christians display bodies of their victims and may even delay their burial for days, if not months, while Muslims bury their victims almost immediately without any fuss. It is photo trick and camera magic that egg on emotions.”
It is safe to say that MURIC is excited that their Muslims brethren killed by the sect of Islamic Boko Haram, ISWAP and co are buried without fuss.
“Terrorists are destroying mosques and killing the Muslim worshippers inside in their hundreds. Yet Nigerian Christian leaders say only churches are being attacked. It is absolutely absurd and incomprehensible.”
What an ambiguity of claim. Akintola should list the number of mosques attacked and numbers of muslims involved.
The MURIC director also said there have been reports of Christians launching what he called “premeditated and well-coordinated attacks on Muslims on several occasions” and mentioned several examples including attacks on Fulani herders in the south-east. MURIC failed to reprimand the Federal Government, he claimed Christians are wrongly accused, of not doing enough to improve security to unravel the mysterious unknown gun men that are on the loose in the South East. Until this duty is done by the government, it will be okay to assume that what is going on in the South East may be a new kind of Muslim brotherhood!
He, however, said there are still good Christians in Nigeria and appealed to them to “disregard CAN’s false allegations and incitements”. Now you can see what I mean when I stated that Akintola and MURIC are paid political propagandists. In his words, good christians in Nigeria should disregard Christian Association of Nigeria and then believe MUSLIM RIGHTS CONCERN?
He added, “It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that CAN is a lying cartel. If CAN has lied more than once, it can lie again”.
Alleging that CAN has lied before without stating the particular lie or lies is preposterous! MURIC and Islamic terrorist group may be members of different sect, but they are members of the same family of faith as Muslims. The issue for which Akintola is turning his anger at CAN is their family affair.
CAN must come to terms with the activities of persons like Akintola and groups like MURIC and take example from Late Archbishop Benson Idahosa who said to one of our past Muslim military Head of State, “if Nigeria can’t be built together it can be burnt together”. CAN can’t be striving to see the nation built while watching helplessly as others destroy our efforts. We should choose to build or burn it together. Now is the time for that choice!