US Special Watch List and the CAN’s wild jubilation, by Charles Koye Okoye

Samson-Ayokunle-Reverend-and-President-of-CAN.jpg

Samson Ayokunle, President of CAN.

 

“How many religious leaders do we have in the US prisons just for committing minor frauds and misdemeanors? Whereas, here, religious leaders who committed rapes and exploited the vulnerable are pampered and feted, and remain untouchable since our government also obey the injunction, “touch not my anointed”.  Still, I am so surprised that CAN can roll out the drums to celebrate another feather to their red cap! Even when US was talking about RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE, and not Christian intolerance.”

 

The US said it has placed Nigeria on a Special Watch List for tolerating severe violations of religious freedom. While many other bodies and Nigerians are expressing surprise, CAN has already gone wild in jubilation.

First, the US didn’t list Nigeria for CHRISTIAN INTOLERANCE, but rather for RELIGIOUS intolerance.

Among other countries in this list are Russia, Cuba and Nicaragua.

But why are the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) already rolling out the drums as though they had struck gold?

In their song, they sing of how Buhari obviously wants to Islamize Nigeria; how it is that many of the people in detention today are Christians, and how the Nigerian Christian has become endangered specie. …and Charles Keye Okoye is a Nigerian Christian too.

But I wonder, whether CAN can truly look at Nigeria today, and look at this current admin and boldly claim that this admin has tried in anyway to systematically stop them from freely practicing their religion.

Truth is that this nation will burn down if Nigerian government even tries to put in place some of the regulations this same US has in place. Can the US tolerate the sort of noise population to which Nigerians are subjected, and our government is helpless because any action to control this, and save the rest of Nigerians from this hazard would be seen as attack on religion, and the said religious organizations would brace up for war rather than take a cue from what they see when they travel to the “saner” climes.

How many religious leaders do we have in the US prisons just for committing minor frauds and misdemeanors? Whereas, here, religious leaders who committed rapes and exploited the vulnerable are pampered and feted, and remain untouchable since our government also obey the injunction, “touch not my anointed”.

Still, I am so surprised that CAN can roll out the drums to celebrate another feather to their red cap! Even when US was talking about RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE, and not Christian intolerance.

In fact, the US expressly mentioned the incarceration of El-Zakzaky among the legacies of the systemic intolerance to religious freedom. They couldn’t mention any Christian leader languishing in Nigerian prsions. Still CAN can shamelessly stoke controversy and fan the embers of war with their Muslim counterpart with the claim that there are more Christians in detention currently. CAN must mean Dariye, Orji Uzo, Nyame; maybe all these guys should be released immediately since they are Christians.

Which victory is CAN celebrating with the listing by the US? According to the US, Nigeria had been in the list even before 2009, and should have been classified Country of Particular Concern (CPC) as at 2009. Hear USCIR “Continued systematic, ongoing ,
and egregious violations of freedom of religion
or belief in Nigeria should have earned the
country a place on the official CPC list since
2009 .”

So, Nigeria has been on this list since 2009, and we all know who was in power then. How come CAN never made a whimper about religious intolerance or Christian intolerance? How come they never got hold of the damming report of on Nigeria being on the watch list, and how come they didn’t roll out their drums to dance in wild jubilation? Hypocrisy of the highest order!

Both the US report and Amnesty’s judged Nigeria more with the killing of over 350 Shiites and the many others that were injured.

It talked about the killing and attacks by Boko Haram on BOTH the Christians and the Muslims, and of course mention specifically Plateau where some Muslim militia killed Christians.

They also mentions an instance where security agents were forcefully removing headscarfs from the heads of the female members of the Shia group.

In essence, this report dwelt more on actions meted to the Islamic religion (see comment box for full report by the Guardian). Sadly, whereas Islamic bodies are rejecting the inclusion of Nigeria in that list, CAN is dancing.

What is CAN celebrating? What can they really point at as the instances of intolerance against them? Boko Haram figured prominently in this report. Yes, they started with killing of Christians and burning of churches, but today, they have killed more Muslims and burnt higher number of mosques, and these facts were not lost on the US that issued the report, but CAN characteristically overlooked that.

Interestingly, in the entire report, there was no mention of Fulani herdsmen and their “attacks on Christians”. Probably, the US and Amnesty refused to see the herdsmen crises as religious war, but rather economic war between herders and farmers.

CAN is a Christian body, and its leadership should be Christ-like, being like Christ, they should be seen to be promoting peace and peaceful coexistence in the nation. Right now, CAN is doing exactly the opposite and has had no qualms promoting hate and misleading the gullible sheep under their care. They can do a self-assessment and see reasons to do better.

*Charles Kaye Okoye, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, and can be reached via charlesokoye8@gmail.com. 08034410520.

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