Press Statement: The Brutal Murder Of Madam Fatima, Children Unacceptable – CAN

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned, in strong terms, the gruesome murder of Lady Fatima and her Four innocent children by some “unknown gunmen”, and demands for justice as it calls on security agencies to fish out those responsible for the wicked act in order to stop the senseless killings in the country. 

This criminality is totally unacceptable, unjustifiable and reprehensible to CAN and all right thinking people. We call on the security operatives to wake up to their responsibilities. The criminals are now operating with impunity while those who are expected to stop or apprehend them appear powerless. This cannot be the dream country of those who fought for her independence from the colonial masters. 

It is disheartening and unfortunate that nowhere is safe again in the country as killers, bandits, terrorists and kidnappers are on rampage in every nook and cranny of the country and all the government is able to do is to issue periodic statements condemning them without any decisive action to bring culprits to book. 

CAN calls on the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOBs) to stop these  criminalities in the pretext of fighting for independence. Are they fighting for a country for the dead or the living? They should know that their criminalities are not helping the case of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu. They should not turn the Southeast to a ‘No Man’s Land’ in the interest of the founding Fathers of this country who hailed from the zone. Their actions are not only giving the Ndigbo bad name but they are creating an atmosphere for Ethno-religious wars. Will a reasonable group be committing crimes like this?

We call on the political elites, religious  leaders and the traditional rulers of Ndigbo extraction to prevail on the violent groups in the Eastern part of the country to stop needless bloodshed and tension they are causing for economic prosperity and well-being of the region.

CAN commiserates with all the bereaved of the senseless killings especially the immediate family of lady Fatima and the recently murdered Honourable Member of Anambra State House to Assembly, Okechukwu Okoye. May God console and comfort them as He pours healing balm on their wounds in Jesus Christ name.

Signed

Pastor  Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant to the President of CAN, His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle – 25 May, 2022.

PRESS STATEMENT: DEBORAH’S KILLERS MUST BE BROUGHT TO BOOK

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) condemns in strong terms the gruesome murder of a Christian, 200 Level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education,  Sokoto, Deborah Samuel by some extremist fellow students on alleged blasphemy.

The unlawful and dastardly action of the perpetrators must not only be condemned by all right thinking people but the security operatives must fish them out, prosecute them as it is expected of them. It is the failure of the security agencies and the government to rise up to such criminalities in the past that gave birth to terrorists and bandits. And as long as the State fails to bring these beasts and criminals amidst us to book, so also the society will continue to be their killing fields
We acknowledge the swift reaction of His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar 111 who not only condemned the criminal and religious intolerant action but called on the security agencies to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is our expectation that the State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, would ensure that the matter is not swept under the carpet, as it was before.

We also call on all teachers and preachers of religious intolerance, extremism and terrorism to repent before the wrath of God descends on them if the State failed to bring them to book. They are agents of death amidst us.


We recall the provocative and demeaning advertisement of the Sterling Bank where the bank compared the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to “Agege bread”, up till now, nobody was attacked and even the CAN leadership has accepted the apology tendered by its Chief Executive, Abubakar Suleiman. Killing for any God in the name of blasphemy is ungodly, satanic, foolish, reprehensible and totally unacceptable. This is not a Stone Age and Nigeria is not a Banana Republic. Nigeria remains a non-religious State where no religion is supreme to the other.

We acknowledge and commend the restraint of the Christian students of the College who refused to embrace self-help and reprisal attacks on those who murdered their colleague. It is our prayers that those vampires in religious garments will not push the country to a religious war
This is why both the government and the security agencies must stop treating them with kid gloves. Enough is enough.
CAN commiserates with the family of Deborah and other bereaved. May God console and comfort them in Jesus Name.
 


Thanks to many other Nigerians who condemned this heinous crime. It was quite an unfortunate development in 21st century Nigeria.
Signed
 Joseph Bade Daramola, Esq
CAN’s General Secretary
13 May, 2022.

PRESS STATEMENT: CAN On The Visit Of The Prosecutor Of The International Criminal Court To Nigeria

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has released a Press Statement on the recent visit of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mr Karim Khan to Nigeria.

In the statement signed by the CAN President, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle; The General Secretary, Barr. Joseph Bade Daramola, and the National Director (Legal & Public Affairs), Barr. Mrs. Comfort Otera Chigbue; pressing issues were raised in respect to Christian victims of religious violence in Nigeria, expressed concerns about the proceedings to date, and engagement with the Prosecutor.

Find full text of the PRESS STATEMENT here:

PRESS STATEMENT: Christian Association Of Nigeria (CAN) On The Visit Of The Prosecutor Of The International Criminal Court to Nigeria

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is profoundly disturbed about the recent visit of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mr Karim Khan QC, to Nigeria last week. We wrote to Mr Khan twice last year, attempting to engage with his office on behalf of Christian victims of religious violence in Nigeria and expressing concerns about the proceedings to date. To this day, we have not had any response. Mr Khan failed to make any contact with us before, during or after his visit to Abuja. To our consternation, we found out about his visit in the media. It appears that this Prosecutor engages in political games and is unwilling to engage with victims of atrocity, let alone Christian ones. He has disrespected victims, and we are obliged to speak out about this.

The Government of Nigeria has not issued a formal statement about the visit but Mr Khan issued a statement about his visit on 22 April 2022  (//www.icc-cpi.int/news/icc-prosecutor-mr-karim-aa-khan-qc-concludes-first-official-visit-nigeria) We therefore address ourselves to this, and will make seven brief observations.

  1. At the International Criminal Court, the situation of Nigeria has since 11 December 2020 been in limbo between the closing of the Preliminary Examination stage and the making of a request for leave to open an investigation. There is a great deal of explaining to be done for this state of affairs. Yet, Mr Khan only met with members of the government of Nigeria, and seems not to have discussed this. We note that at least one of the individuals that he met has been identified to the Prosecutor’s office as a potential candidate for prosecution. Mr Khan is clearly playing a political game, and is prioritizing relations with the government of Nigeria. CAN is dismayed that the word ‘victim’ only appeared twice in his statement, and both times they were in bland stock-phrases. This is no accident, it reveals that this Prosecutor is not interested in standing up for victims of atrocity, but is trying to unburden himself of the Nigeria situation. We note the peculiarity of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court declaring, in the Nigerian context, that ‘As I have repeatedly stated, the meaningful realization of the vision set out in the Statute can only be achieved by deepening cooperation and by finding common ground wherever possible, even in difficult circumstances’.
  • Mr Khan’s predecessor took ten years (November 2010 – December 2020) to decide that she should seek leave from the Pre Trial-Chamber to open an investigation into Nigeria. The excuse she gave for this long delay was that this was due to ‘the priority given by my Office in supporting the Nigerian authorities in investigating and prosecuting these crimes domestically’. In the final months of her tenure, the-then Prosecutor finally gave up and determined that the Nigerian authorities had been ‘inactive’ in relation to their Complementarity responsibilities and she was forced to seek leave to open an investigation: ‘because of the absence of relevant proceedings or, where proceedings are asserted to have been conducted, the information available did not demonstrate any tangible, concrete, and progressive steps by the authorities to address allegations against members of the NSF’. This was on 11 December 2020. On 20 April 2022, nearly a year after his appointment, we have the spectacle of Mr Khan showing up in Nigeria trying to revive his predecessor’s failed attempts to get Nigeria to meet its Complementarity obligations. Two Prosecutors of the International Criminal Court have now been colluding with the government of Nigeria to use the principle of Complementarity to evade their own responsibilities in the face of international crimes, and to deny justice to the victims of religious and other violence in Nigeria.
  • Mr Khan’s statement tells us nothing about what he and his Office have done on Nigeria since December 2020, possibly because they have done absolutely nothing. Where is the application to the Pre Trial Chamber to open an investigation? How is it that Mr Khan has been willing to leap-frog the situations of the Philippines and Venezuela over Nigeria, applying for leave to the Court’s judges to open investigations? These situations came under the Prosecutor’s radar years after Nigeria went into Preliminary Examination. How it is that Ukraine has jumped the queue too? Why is the matter of ‘capacity constraints’ and ‘operational capacity due to overextended resources’ (referred to in the Prosecutor’s statement of 11 December 2020) only applicable to Nigeria, and not the Philippines, Venezuela and Ukraine? What is going on here?

For years now, our Christian community has borne the brunt of the religious violence in this country. We have, in a communication that was ignored by the Prosecutor, pointed out flaws in the approach taken by his predecessor in relation to Nigeria. These flaws are the result of profound misunderstanding of the role of religion in the violence that has engulfed this country. In the time that the two Prosecutors of the International Criminal Court have been leisurely considering the Nigeria situation (November 2010 to the present), a conservative assessment of the number of Christians who have lost their lives because of their religious identity would be more than 25,000. [The number of Christians killed for their faith recorded by World Watch Research in 2013 was 612, in 2014 it was 2484, in 2015 it jumped to 4028, in 2016 it dropped to 695, in 2017 it rose to 2000, in 2018 it rose again to 3731, in 2019 it was 1350, in 2020 it jumped again to 3910 and then again in 2021 to 4650.] There is no way to count the numbers of Nigerian Christians who have been wounded, abused and traumatized, let alone the massive property destruction and forced displacement of Christians from their homelands. Of course Muslims and other communities have been affected too, and they also must not be ignored in the Prosecutor’s apparent attempt to wash his hands of Nigeria. But CAN is an umbrella organization representing all the Christian denominations in this country; we are only mandated to address the disproportionately victimized and persecuted Christians of this country. Mr Khan’s statement indicates that like his predecessor, he will not take with any seriousness the matter of the persecution of Nigerian Christians. We will continue to challenge vigorously.

  • Mr Khan’s statement indicates a willingness to consider the Sahel-wide problem of Islamist terrorism. We have seen that the Islamist violence in Nigeria is indeed linked to what is going on in other countries, and there is a snowball effect going on. Our beloved country really is on the precipice. However, Mr Khan cannot suggest that the wider Sahel situation be referred to the Court by the Security Council when in Nigeria he and his Office ignore the religious mayhem being unleashed by armed Fulani herdsmen and Islamist bandits, and minimize the nature and scale of the religious persecution of Christians committed by Boko Haram. And of course, it is ironic that Mr Khan and his Office appear to have resources for a Security Council referral of the Sahel situation, but not for Nigeria.
  • The statement makes vague references to a formal agreement that the government of Nigeria and the Office of the Prosecutor are discussing. What is this about? Why are they not being open and transparent?
  • With all due respect to Mr Khan, his statement and conduct since coming to office present him as a Prosecutor seeking to shirk his responsibilities for investigating and prosecuting international crimes in Nigeria. He comes across as trying to avoid providing a modicum of satisfaction to the thousands upon thousands of victims in our country’s long running tragedy of murder and mayhem, exacerbated by governmental indifference, negligence and possibly even complicity.

In spite of our deep disappointment, CAN is committed to the search for justice and redress for the persecuted and brutalized Christians of Nigeria. We continue to be willing to engage with Mr Khan and his Office.

Provocative Easter Advert: ‘We have forgiven you’ – CAN Tells Sterling Bank, CEO

The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has forgiven Sterling Bank and its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman over the provocative Easter greeting advertised by the Bank where it compared the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to ‘Agege Bread.’

CAN in a statement signed by the General Secretary, Barrister Joseph Daramola, acknowledged that they have written an acceptable and genuine apology letter dated  20 April, 2022 to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) personally signed by the Chief Executive Officer, Abubakar Suleiman.

The statement reads:

“As a result of this development, CAN has resolved to forgive Sterling Bank and its Chief Executive. We always remember that  ‘to err is human and to forgive is divine.’

In taking this step, we are following the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ who asked God to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross unjustly and has taught us to forgive always.”

We hereby call on all Christians in the country to join us in forgiving the Sterling Bank and its management. Those who are considering stopping patronizing the bank as a result of the blunder should stop the process but instead continue doing business with the bank.”

“We appeal to corporate institutions especially the banks to be more sensitive,  considerate and professional in handling their public messages. Whatever that can cause religious crises in the country should be avoided at all costs, both by the government and the business sector. 

“We appreciate our youths who heeded our directive and refused to be dragged into the streets to protest against the bank as being touted in some quarters.

Finally, we acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the well meaning Nigerians who intervened in the matter. May the blessings of Peacemakers be their portion in Jesus’ name,”

As contained in the statement.

CAN Calls For 3 Days Prayers For Nigeria

The President, Christian Association Of Nigeria (CAN) – His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle requests all Church Leaders, through your various Churches to organize a Solemn Assembly to pray for Nigeria on the 13th, 14th and 15th of May, 2022.
We are to passionately call upon the Lord to:

  1. Show Nigeria mercy and divinely intervene in all affairs of our nation, especially economic, political and security matters so that the nation my not violently collapse.
     
  2. That God would speak to our leaders to take the right steps in addressing the dangerous situations into which we have put ourselves.
  3. That our political leaders will not set the nation on fire or tear it apart by their insensitive political actions which failed to take our complexities into consideration as we approach 2023 elections.
  4. That God would continue to be with the electoral umpire, INEC, to stand firm without iota of partiality in making sure that elections are free and fair.
     
  5. That God should judge anyone out-rightly, who, out of selfishness is planning to create chaos in the forthcoming elections no matter how highly placed in the nation.
     
  6. That the electorates would come out and vote the right people into power, those who will make promises and fulfill them. 
     
  7. That daily blood shedding of innocent people and other violent acts in Nigeria should be put to an end by our government and for divine intervention.
     
  8. That the Lord should show us mercy as a nation concerning the blood of innocent people already shed in this nation, that is calling upon God for vengeance.
     
  9. That God would cause the terrorists, the gunmen, the bandits, the kidnappers and other violent people in our midst to abandon their evil ways and give this nation respite.
     
  10. That God would give the military upper hand in subduing the terrorists and other violent people causing mayhem in our nation and that He would divinely fight for Nigeria against these evil people and their financiers. 
     
  11. That our generation would experience a new Nigeria where there are equity, justice and people irrespective of ethnic group, religion or political affiliation.
     
    The Prayer is expected to hold simultaneously on all denominations, as we jointly seek the face of God concerning Nigeria.

CAN Rejoices With Sultan, Muslims at Sallah

The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) rejoices with Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the entire Muslims as they celebrate this year Eid-el-Fitr.

CAN congratulates our Muslims, brothers and sisters on the end of the Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the month during which Muslims around the world fast from dawn to sunset.

Since the month, among other things, aims to purify the soul and bring the individual closer to God, we urge you all to abide with the teaching and the principles of Ramadan in your daily activities.

We know that it is those who fight and kill on religion basis that are largely responsible for the unending killings and abductions in the country. It is these pseudo-Muslims who are slaughtering fellow human beings and who burn down worship and market places, all in the name of God who is peace personified. We are praying for their repentance.

The CAN leadership will not cease having dialogues on peace  and unity with the leadership of NSCIA at the forum provided for us by the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC).

In the same vein, we call on the Federal government to reconsider the de-radicalizing and rehabilitating of the arrested and the surrendered terrorists simply because it seems the programme considered laudable is becoming counterproductive.

Once again, CAN rejoices with our Muslim counterparts and we pray that their prayers and restraints during the month will not be in vain.

Happy Eid-el-Fitr.

Barka Da Sallah.

Signed

Barrister Joseph Bade Daramola (General Secretary, CAN)