The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) – His Eminence, Most Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Okoh has on behalf of the association, congratulated the Primate of The Church of the Lord (Aladura) Worldwide, The Most Rev. (Dr.) Rufus Okikiola Ositelu, on his emergence as the President of the World Council of Churches (WCC) for Africa.
The President described Rufus Ositelu as a trailblazer, visionary leader, great ecumenist and mighty man of valour, full of the Holy Spirit, and abundant in Grace. Stating that his experience and track-record all through the years in ecumenism is a confidence that the Church leader will definitely take the ecumenical body in Africa to the next level.
His statement reads:
The news of your emergence as the President of the World Council of Churches (WCC) for Africa, and indeed the first Nigerian and African to occupy that exalted position since 1948 of its establishment, didn’t come to us as a surprise. This is due to the fact that we have known Your Holiness, not just as a mighty man of God but as a trailblazer, visionary leader, great ecumenist and mighty man of valour, full of the Holy Spirit, and abundant in Grace.
We are very confident that WCC is about to witness the undisputable hands of God in yet another apostolic dimension through your emergence. Your imperishable records as the 4th Primate of the Church of the Lord (TCL) Worldwide and former Vice-President of the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) are enviable testaments of the exceptional Grace of God on your life.
The Almighty God, who is the fountain of all wisdom will continue to refresh your mind, increase your anointing and grant you all spiritual and material blessings to function effectively in this new capacity. Let me assure you that as an Association, our thoughts and prayers are forever with you as you begin this new assignment. We are not in doubt that the Church of God in Nigeria and indeed Africa will be proud of you.
Once again, I rejoice with Your Holiness, members of your immediate family and the Church of the Lord (Aladura) Worldwide on this historic milestone.
The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned in strong terms the gruesome murder of Rev. Fr. John Cheitnum Four days after his abduction and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the masterminds are arrested and prosecuted.
Cheitnum was the Chairman of CAN in Jema’a local government area and the Coordinating Chairman of the body for Southern Kaduna until his demise. He was kidnapped with Rev. Fr. Donatus Cleophas (who later escaped) on July 15, from the Rectory of Christ the King Parish, Yadin Garu in Lere local government area of Kaduna State.
To say the least, this is cruel, inhuman, deliberately provocative, barbarism and condemnable. Unfortunately, we have a government that has failed to protect the lives and property of citizens and yet it will not ensure that these terrorists pay a heavy price for their evil actions. Ours is a government that lacks political will to put these criminals where they rightly believe. Instead, they are being recycled in the pretext of de-radicalising programme.
We recall with sadness and a sense of despair how terrorists murdered Lawan Andimi, the chairman of CAN in Michika, Adamawa State. Till today, no one has been brought to justice for his gruesome murder. Instead, many Christians, including the clerics, are being abducted and killed while our security agencies look helpless.
This is unprecedented anywhere in the world. We don’t know when an end will come to these wicked acts and to worsen the situation, the same government that cannot protect us has failed to establish state police to compliment the obviously overstretched Federal Police. This is why many well meaning Nigerians, including some governors, are calling for self-defence to reduce the menace of insecurity challenges.
CAN commiserates with the immediate family of the slain Cheitnum, the Chancellor of the Diocese, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Okolo, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria and pray for divine consolation and comfort. It is our prayers that never again will Nigeria be governed by a government that will be treating criminals with kid gloves.
Signed: Barrister Joseph Bade Daramola (General Secretary, CAN)
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.
Barka Da Sallah.
Barrister Joseph Bade Daramola (General Secretary, CAN)
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has released a statement, strongly condemning the gruesome murder of talented Gospel singer, Mrs. Osinachi Nwachukwu, also lending a voice to totally condemn every form of domestic violence.
PRESS RELEASE: SAY NO TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – CAN CONDEMNS THE GRUESOME MURDER OF TALENTED GOSPEL MUSICIAN, MRS. OSINACHI NWACHUKWU IN ITS STRONGEST TERM
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is indeed worried about the growing rate of toxic masculinities among men and boys most especially the most recent death of the talented Gospel Musician, Mrs. Osinachi Nwachukwu who was allegedly sent to her early grave, on the 8th April, 2022 as a result of injury sustained from domestic violence. We are extremely sad that such bundle of talent and inspirational singer, who led spellbound worships had to complete her earthly pilgrimage on account of such assault from her supposed husband. This is indeed a trying moment in the body of Christ and we commiserate with her immediate family, her children and the body of Gospel Musicians in Nigeria.
Domestic Violence which oftentimes is a Gender-Based-Violence (GBV) refers to a range of violations that happen within the domestic space. It is a broad term that encompasses intimate partner violence (IPV), a form of abuse that is perpetrated by a current or ex‐partner(s). Experience has shown that wherever we call home is oftentimes the space where physical, psychological and sexual abuse occurs. This is because home can be a place where dynamics of power can be distorted and subverted by those who abuse, often without scrutiny from anyone “outside” the couple, or the family unit.
As much as the Bible doesn’t support divorce and broken homes (Mathew 5: 31-32), we may need to emphasize that home may not always be a safe place to live for adults and children living in situations of domestic and familial violence. As religious actors and networks of faith-based organizations, we are called to work together for gender equality and justice, amidst global economic changes, rising nationalism, harsh economic realities and conflicts. We are living in perilous times; a period of changing global, regional, and national environment (Mathew 24: 36-44, 2nd Timothy 3: 1-5, 2nd Peter 3: 3-4).
The Christian Association of Nigeria is one of the very few organizations that has boldly and consistently declared a zero tolerance to Gender-Based-Violence through the platform of Male Champions for Gender Justice set up by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) to accelerate actions against all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) disproportionately affecting women and children. The CAN National President, His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle, was one of the appointed Promoters of the initiative in consideration of his irrevocable stand against domestic violence. Two other members of CAN were equally appointed as part of the 10-Member Steering Committee for Africa. Based on this declaration, CAN had to set up a Help Desk where issues of domestic violence can be reported from our National to Zonal and Local Government Secretariats. CAN does not and will never support domestic Violence.
Consequently, CAN established an Intervention/Advocacy Group known as MALE CHAMPIONS FOR GENDER JUSTICE whose membership is open to all those who profess the name of Christ. The group was formed in order to accelerate actions against all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) disproportionately affecting women and Children during and beyond COVID-19 pandemic (Genesis 2:24). It is expected that members carry advocacy campaign against sexual and domestic violence to schools, religious houses, social media, civil organizations e.t.c to preach against this inhuman treatment, and nip it in the bud because it is far easier to mold a child than to bend a man. CAN is committed to raising Godly men, husbands and leaders who will be good ambassadors of Christ in all facets of human endeavours (Ephesians 5:25-33). Board membership of the group are drawn from diverse fields of human professions such as Law, Health, Gender Based NGOs, Security, Guidance & Counselling, Academics and CAN Secretariat. We will continue to work within and between our faith communities to shape a world that is sustainable and where the human rights of all are respected. Our commitment to human rights is not an arbitrary cultural or ideological preference; it is rooted in deep religious and spiritual convictions. There can be no justice where God-given human rights are violated or where duty bearers fail to discharge their responsibilities.
Once again, we humbly appeal to church leaderships, Government/Non-Government Agencies, Civil Society Organizations, Traditional Institutions as well as immediate families of victims of Domestic Abuses to join hands with us in getting rid of this menace that is gradually eating deep into our societal fabric. We equally request the larger society to jettison all forms of religious/cultural stigmatizations and provide wise counsels to save our women from the scourge of domestic violence. We cannot continue to lose our young and vibrant women to abusive partners in the name of marriage. We enjoin all women passing through the slightest of this sub-human treatment to please speak up and report issues of domestic violence to relevant authorities before it gets out of control. A stitch in time saves nine.
May the soul of Mrs. Osinachi Nwachukwu rest in bosom of her creator and the Almighty God grant her beloved family, most especially the aged mother, the fortitude the bear her irreparable loss. We will ensure that there is no perversion of justice on this matter.
Signed On behalf of the CAN National President, His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle – Chief Promoter, Male Gender Champion for Nigeria.
Apostle ‘Biodun Sanyaolu – Assistant General Secretary, CAN & Male Gender Champion (AACC Nairobi)
Archbishop John Praise Daniel – Male Gender Champion (AACC Nairobi)
The attention of the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has been drawn to an ungodly, wicked, insensitive and deliberately provocative advertisement of the Sterling Bank comparing the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ to ‘Agege Bread’ amidst the Easter celebration.
In case the management of the Sterling Bank is not aware, the resurrection of Jesus witnesses to the immense power of God Himself. To believe in the resurrection is to believe in God. If God exists, and if He created the universe and has power over it, then He has power to raise the dead. If He does not have such power, He is not worthy of our faith and worship. Only He who created life can resurrect it after death, only He can reverse the mystery that is death itself, and only He can remove the sting and gain the victory over the grave (1 Corinthians 15:54–55). In resurrecting Jesus from the grave, God reminds us of His absolute sovereignty over life and death.
In the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, God put our punishment on Christ so that we could be justified before Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). The resurrection of Jesus confirms that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice for sin on the cross and gives us access to a right relationship with Him.
The Empty tomb shows the supremacy of Jesus. Go to the grave of any other religious founder and his carcasses are still there being worship, but where Jesus was buried, it is boldly written; “He is no longer here, He has Risen”! That is what we are celebrating at Easter and for Sterling Bank to compare it with a loaf of bread is blasphemous and insensitive to the religion embraced by billions of people globally. The advertisement was provocative but we will refused to be provoked simply not only because it is not in our characters but it came from an uninformed mind of neither of the two leading religions in the country.
In the words of Pastor Adrian Rogers, “The resurrection is not merely important to the historic Christian faith; without it, there would be no Christianity. It is the singular doctrine that elevates Christianity above all other world religions.”
The purported apology did not come from a penitent heart. How can someone in his right mind described the risen Christ as a loaf of bread. That is insulting, ridiculous and a mockery of Jesus Christ. We advised Christians to be wary of the banks and other financial institutions they are patronizing.
We learnt that the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) has reportedly intervened in the matter with a view to impose some sanctions against Sterling Bank. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is waiting for the decision of the organization.
However, in the interim, we call for the immediate removal of the Chief Executive of Sterling Bank; Mr. Abubakar Suleiman with his Management whose actions have clearly shown their hostility and hatred for the Christian faith.
We call on all Christians not to take the law into their hands in seeking redress, but to let the relevant authorities handle the matter.
Signed: Joseph Bade Daramola Esq. (General Secretary, CAN)
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), His Eminence Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle brings to all Nigerians an Easter Message of Hope and faith in the Midst of Gloom.
NIGERIA WILL RISE AGAIN I bring congratulatory message to all Christians all over Nigeria and by extension to all Nigerians in the name of Jesus. The arrest of Jesus by evil men and the so-called religious leaders, his crucifixion and of course his burial were the greatest shocks in the life of his disciples. Though he told them several times that it was going to happen, considering his miraculous power, they thought nobody would be able to arrest, not to talk of crucifying him. They understood not the Scripture that Christ must suffer first before entering into his glory and be Lord over all. (Acts 24: 25-27)
Jesus remained three days in the grave as if He was not going to resurrect. However, on the third day, there was a great happening. There was an earthquake, the foundation of the earth was shaken and Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, the Lord of lords rose triumphantly from the dead. His resurrection brought smiles to the faces of his disciples and shame to his enemies.
Fellow Christians and fellow Nigerians, the situation in the country today, to say the truth, without an iota of politics looks very gloomy. There seems to be nothing to celebrate because of unimaginable insecurity. Despite the efforts of the government to arrest the situation, the scope of insecurity keeps expanding to our consternation. Coupled with insecurity are other challenges such as mass unemployment, industrial disharmony, especially that of Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), just to mention but a few. The prices of goods and services have risen in a way unprecedented in our country before and entrepreneurs are relocating to other countries that have better ease of doing business. Is there anything that calls for celebration in all these things we are facing? Yes, there is. Nothing is worse than death! If Jesus died and was buried, putting his disciples in the greatest state of disappointment and sorrow but afterwards rose from the dead, then, Nigeria is going to be great again.
This nation will rise from all the challenges we are facing and we Nigerians are going to rejoice and be proud of our nation again in the name of Jesus Christ. There is hope for a tree that is cut down but it’s root remains in the ground, at the scent of water, it will sprout again! (Job 14: 7-8)
My prayer to God is to fast-tract the resurrection of Nigeria from all her pains and challenges so that those of us who have tasted in the suffering in our nation might equally eat of the good of this nation in the name of Jesus Christ. I commend our security agencies for all they are doing at nipping the ugly situation of insecurity in the bud, especially for the supreme price some of them had paid. We seize this opportunity of Easter to pray for comfort for their families and urge the government to take good care of the people they left behind.
I plead with the Federal Government to work harder to bring reprieve to Nigerians from all these challenges very soon.
Once again, I wish you happy Easter. May Hallelujah be your song forever in Jesus’ name.
Rev. Dr Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle President, Christian Association of Nigeria & Co-Chairman, Nigeria Inter Religious Council
The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has described the menace of insecurity challenges occasioned by the criminal activities of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers in the country as the biggest threat to the next year general election.
The CAN President, His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle made this assertion on Tuesday evening in an interactive session which some Christian leaders had with the European Union Delegation led by the EU Chief Election Observer, Ms. Maria Arena who are on a mission to the country from 1-5 March in preparation for the coming general election observation.
The EU Delegation wanted to know the position of the Association on the preparation of all the stakeholders – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies and the political parties.
Dr. Ayokunle who also doubles as the Co-Chairman of the Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) explained that the security situation in the country might not allow the general election to be credible, free and fair if the voters are not allowed to go out to exercise their inalienable rights because of fear of being harmed or kidnapped or killed.
“We call on the Federal Government and the security agencies to wake up to the security challenges in the country where terrorists, bandits and kidnappers are operating with impunity and nowhere is safe and secure again. If the trend continues, many voters may not participate and the outcome of the election may not be credible,” the CAN President said.
He observed that the government appears to be struggling to nip the ugly situation in the bud, their present effort is far from being enough. We have been strugglingwith this situation now for the past thirteen years, yet, we are still where we are!
He also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be apolitical in the assignment and asked the members of the commission who are card carrying members of the ruling party to step down or be flushed out in order to avoid compromised election results.
Ayokunle tasked INEC to borrow a leaf from its counterpart in Gambia where their recently conducted elections were far better than Nigeria’s elections. All election observers, including All Africa Conference of Churches’ delegation that he led there adjudged the election to be credible.
According to him, ‘Gambia’s elections were more credible, free and fair. It was also free from security harassment and there was a level playing field for all the parties involved.’ ‘We are supposed to be doing better because we have more resources and more capacity than Gambian.’
The CAN President who disclosed that CAN has no candidate for the office of the President however reiterated the position of the Association on the need to have a Christian President as the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari who is a Muslim and would have spent eight years in office by the time he is handing over to the next president.
According to him, “Although Nigeria is practicing democracy but because of our peculiarities which include multicultural, multi-tribal, and multi-religious nature, ours should be a ‘home grown democracy’ where every divide should be given a sense of belonging. Even if the constitution is silent on the six geopolitical zones rotational representation, the political parties should be wise enough to make use of it in sharing the leadership positions. We have warned all political parties against fielding either Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian Presidential candidates. Since President Muhammadu Buhari is a Muslim from the North, in the interest of equity, fairness, social justice and cohesion, the next President should be a Christian from the South”.
After the interactions, the leader of the delegation, Ms Maria Arena thanked the leadership of CAN for honouring their invitation and promised to be carrying the Association along in their assignments.
Meanwhile, the CAN President, Rev. Dr Samson Ayokunle has advised all churches in Nigeria to make the first week of March a WEEK OF SOUL WINNING. He urged all churches under the umbrella of the Association to be using the week as a period of soul winning so that bloodletting and all other crimes might reduce. He urged Christians to share their faith, their testimonies and spread the gospel of God’s love and mercy to all who have not known the Lord through Jesus Christ. preach the Kingdom of God to the world.
I rejoice with all Christians in Nigeria and of course all over the world at this season of Christmas, the season when God became man to live among us in order to redeem us from all our sins and eternal death. My prayer is that nothing would steal from your joy of this season in the name of Jesus Christ. (John 1: 14)
Let us remember that the devil is a deceiver and what we are passing through presently in Nigeria might not be what would cause us to rejoice! Of course, what we are currently passing through may not give anybody hope of tomorrow humanly speaking unless those in power are more decisive and God intervenes for us. We are experiencing insecurity everywhere, most especially, the kidnapping, wanton killings and destructions of facilities here and there by the criminals in our midst, the insurgency in the northeast, the northwest and the north central of Nigeria, just to mention a few are terrible things of great concern. They do not give us joy at all humanly speaking. However, we need to remember that part of the purposes of the birth of Jesus Christ is to give hope to the hopeless and deliver us from sin and those who hate us. He came to set the captives free.
The Bible says in 1Peter 1: 3-4 thus:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,”
Peter’s letter really was to a people who were hopeless, otherwise, he wouldn’t have attached hope in Christ to his message.
My message to all Nigerians is to remain hopeful in Christ Jesus and rejoice in hope no matter what the situation we are passing through may be. Our Father God can turn all situations around in Christ Jesus because as God, he can do all things. He is our Way-maker and he would make way for us in the name of Jesus.
I urge you to receive Jesus as the Lord over your life today, share the message of the saving power of Jesus with others who do not know him and show love in a practical way to someone around you. Let us through the love of Christ embrace one another irrespective of religious, ethnic and political differences. Let us be reconciled to God and to one another. Let all the killings, the kidnapping of our fellow brothers and sisters and all other acts of wickedness stop because God is going to judge these acts on the day of judgement.
At this season of Christmas, I plead with those at the corridor of power to use it to bring relief and joy to the citizens of this country. It is the good you have done now that people would remember tomorrow. Please, let us lessen the pains of Nigerians by paying more attention to their well-being in the prompt payment of workers salaries and pensions to the pensioners. Let all things be done to reduce the high cost of things in the market and let enabling environment be created for employment of our youths who are roaming the streets having no job.
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I plead with all Nigerians not to let off their guards on Covid-19 protocols. The world has entered the fourth phase of the pandemic and it is spreading faster than other phases. Please, wherever you go, especially in public places such as markets and churches, wear your masks and keep all the safety protocols.
I pray that none of us would die untimely in the mighty name of Jesus.
Once again, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy and very prosperous New Year 2022 in Jesus’ name.
Rev. Dr. Samson ‘Supo Ayokunle
President, Christian Association of Nigeria &
Co-Chairman, Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC)
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked the security agencies in the country to leave no stone unturned in their protection of all churches in Zamfara State in order to prevent the terrorists from carrying out their threats against Christians.
The State Police Command has reportedly confirmed that a threat letter was sent to the Christians in the state asking them to stop worship and to close down churches or risk their violent attacks. We also learnt that it was the Police that even informed the state chapter of the Association about the threat.
We know that all kidnappings and other criminalities being perpetrated in the North western part of the country are the handiwork of terrorists who either migrated from the North-East or those who were released under the purported rehabilitation programme of the Federal government. Now that a Federal High Court has labelled those criminals terrorists, we call on the Police, the military authorities and other security agencies to rise up to the challenge of the terrorists who have turned kidnapping into the biggest business venture in the geopolitical zone.
The way and manner by which our security agencies have been handling those criminals is totally unacceptable, reprehensible and unprecedented. Criminals are criminals irrespective of their religious, political and ethnic affiliations and they should be treated as just. We also call on the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police to Investigate those who are speaking for the terrorists with a view to unmasking their sponsors and beneficiaries of their criminalities.
The leadership of the national Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in our recent visit to Sokoto and Kebbi states was alarmed, surprised and shocked by the record of those criminals who are killing and kidnapping with impunity in the area as if there was a pact between them and the security agencies. Now that both the leaderships of Christianity and Islam in the country are working together on how to stop their criminalities in the North-West, they are now trying to introduce divisive ways by declaring war against Christians and churches in the zone especially in Zamfara State where they are gradually turning into their strongholds. We have no problem with Islam or with our Muslim brothers and sisters but with the handful fanatics and their financiers who have declared war against Christianity. We appeal to all peace loving Muslims to speak against those who are painting Islam what is not.
We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to sanction any Commissioner of Police or Zonal Police Commanders and the Director of State Security Services wherever kidnappers operate in the country henceforth. This will go a long way in reducing the menace as we are approaching the Yuletide season. We have never had it this bad. We also call on the Federal government to refund all the ransom paid for the release of those who were abducted in the last five years. We reiterate our quest for the State Police in order to reduce the security burden on the Federal government controlled Police. The Police has been overwhelmed with the menace of insecurity in the country. President Buhari should also direct the Police to arraign all suspected kidnappers, bandits and terrorists in their custody with a view to stopping those who are perpetrating the atrocities. Failure to do this will force the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to ask our members to embrace the principle of self-defence wherever the security agencies appeared compromised.
Up till today, the perpetrators of the genocide in the Southern Kaduna are still walking freely despite the killings of hundreds of our members. We cannot be reduced to refugees in the country that belongs to us again.
Finally, we call on all Christians and peace loving Muslims to pray against their threats and for our security agencies to be able to stop all criminalities in the country. Enough is enough.
Signed Barr Joseph Bade Daramola, CAN’s General Secretary. 1 December, 2021.
Press Statement: The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has said that the Association is at a loss on the data or statistics used by the US government in arriving at delisting Nigeria from the list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ on the issue of freedom of religion.
The US government did not contact us when they were listing Nigeria among the countries of ‘Particular Concern’ on religious freedom, neither did they seek our opinion before removing Nigeria from the list. If they had done, we would have been able to compare the statistics then and now on the issue of freedom of religion in Nigeria. Whatever may be the data they used, our prayer is that Nigeria would be a country where no religious group is discriminated against or persecuted and that our government would see to it that all religiously biased policies are discontinued with.
Christians had faced and are still facing persecution from ISWAP and the Boko Haram Islamic Group till today as before. These are the people who said their agenda was to wipe away Christianity from Nigeria and to plant Islam as the only religion from the North down to the Atlantic Ocean in the South. That agenda with the killing of Christians has not stopped till today and Nigerians are living witnesses.
The bandits have joined other militant Islamic groups to be ferociously attacking churches, killing worshippers and kidnapping for ransom. The herdsmen are equally doing their havoc. We have lost many people and places of worship to their assault, especially in the Northcentral part of the country and the Northeast. Though, the madness has grown now and those who are not Christians are being attacked, killed and kidnapped, this is because these criminal acts have become lucrative business and it is whoever you can kidnap for money! If the government had responded appropriately when this criminal madness began and subdued these evil groups immediately, we wouldn’t be where we are now!
We have been shouting at the top of our voice in Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), almost in vain, that government policies should be religiously neutral enough so that no religious group would be seen as being favoured or discriminated against. For example, for almost a year ago now, some of our churches are finding it difficult with the Ministry of Interior to get new marriage certificate booklet after they had exhausted the ones they were using. Some had applied for new supply as far back as January this year without any response from Ministry of Interior till now. This means that such churches licensed to conduct wedding were denied the right to do so for no cogent reason from the government!It is not only in Nigeria that churches are allowed to conduct wedding once they were licensed to do so. Why are the churches being denied the right to do so now in Nigeria? If there is nothing to hide by the government and it is not a subtle religious discrimination, why didn’t the ministry in a written form or verbally explain to the churches that needed new marriage certificate booklet why the supply is delayed?
We are seizing this opportunity to appeal to the Ministry of Interior to put its acts together and allow the licensed churches to collect the marriage certificate booklets from the local government registries nearest to them without further delay and cost.
All right thinking people would continue to ask the US government to let the world know what has changed on the issue of religious freedom and persecution the Christians are facing between the time they placed the country in the list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ and now! CAN in particular would like to know! This is because all those factors that put Nigeria on CPC list for the first time in 2020 are still there.
For example, many states in the North are yet to reverse the policy which denies Christians the Certificate of Occupancy to build churches in their own country. Equally, some, if not many states in the North do not allow Christian students to study Christian Religious Studies in the public schools because it is not made available in their curriculum. In a similar vein, Christian students had and are still complaining that they are denied admission to government owned universities in the North to study courses like Law and Medicine, among others. Christian students such as Leah Sharibu and students kidnapped from Bethel Baptist High School were left with the kidnappers without any purposeful rescue mission organised for them.
The relatives and churches of the kidnapped people were forced and are being forced to pay ransom worth millions of Naira to secure their people or children! Up till now , the Federal Government refused to see banditry as terrorism and has therefore refused to label them as terrorists. For whose good is this? Is it because the bandits are close to those in government or because of religious consideration?
Similarly, ISWAP and other Islamic terrorists that surrendered or were captured were not allowed to face the wrath of the law but rather, unlike other criminals are being slated for a programme of de-radicalization or rehabilitation! These are people who had sent many people to early graves! Is this action of government fair to the people they killed and the rest of us whom these people traumatized and put in sadness over our property or relatives they killed? Why were the armed robbers not de-radicalized? What becomes of our criminal justice system if this kind of anomaly is allowed to stay?
Up till today, our government is still funding the membership of Nigeria in all the International Islamic organisations like OIC and its allies without being part of any international Christian organization.
Once again, we urge the US government to help us by allowing us to know what has changed between the time our country was put in the list of ‘countries of particular concern’ and now.
Let me conclude by saying that we are trying to bring some of the issues of religious persecution or discrimination up at our Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) meeting so as to douse religious tension and foster harmonious relationship between religious adherents in Nigeria. Please be praying for us for success along this line.
His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).