“His reference to a people who possess ‘a pool of violence to draw from’ no doubt is a reference to those he has always characterized with violence – the Muslims. This is a serious provocation. He even has the guts to say the killings we are witnessing in Nigeria are part of a grand religious design! Religious? Who are the victims of the killings? What religion do they profess? Is it not a fact that over 90 per cent of those being killed are Muslims?” Prof Isa Muhammad asked Kukah.
A Muslim group based in Sokoto, Muslim Solidarity Forum, has called on the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Kukah, to tender an unreserved apology to the entire Muslim Ummah over his recent “malicious comments” against Islam or quietly and quickly leave the state.
Addressing newsmen on Tuesday, the acting chairman of the Forum, Professor Isa Muhammad Maishanu, reportedly stated that Kukah’s statements were capable of breaking the age-long peaceful coexistence among the religious faithful in the country.
Professor Isa Muhammad said, “Our intention at Muslim Solidarity Forum is not to hold brief for the President, as he has those who are paid to do that; rather our concern is the image and reputation of Muslims, which Mr Kukah finds pleasure in attacking without an iota of caution, and by referring to him [the president] as a Muslim, that automatically brings all Muslims into the issue.
According to the report, Professor Isa Muhammad Maishanu believed Kukah’s statement was seriously provocative.
“His reference to a people who possess ‘a pool of violence to draw from’ no doubt is a reference to those he has always characterized with violence – the Muslims. This is a serious provocation,” Isa Muhammad Maishanu maintained.
“He even has the guts to say the killings we are witnessing in Nigeria are part of a grand religious design! Religious? Who are the victims of the killings?
“What religion do they profess? Is it not a fact that over 90 per cent of those being killed are Muslims?
“Who is behind the so-called design?” he asked.
“These callous statements are unbecoming of someone who parades himself as secretary to the National Peace Committee and a member of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC).
“As such, we call on Kukah to immediately stop his malicious vituperations against Islam and Muslims and tender unreserved apology to the Muslim Ummah or else quickly and quietly leave the seat of the Caliphate, as he is trying to break the age-long peaceful coexistence between the predominantly Muslim population and their Christian guests.”
The forum added that “The sensible and objective world knows the truth!
“We wonder how Kukah, who lives peacefully and comfortably in the heart of the Sokoto Caliphate, can make such a callous and senseless statement.” Isa Muhammad Maishanu stated.
Bishop Kukah had since denied calling for a coup.
Bishop Kukah had, in the Christmas message, accused the Nigerian President of nepotism, saying there could have been a coup if a non-Northern Muslim was the president and had done a quarter of what the president had done, although he did not explain how nepotism came into the activities of Buhari-led government and what are those things the Northerner in power had done to warrant his statement.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, however described the Kukah’s statement as an attempt to stoke the embers of hatred, sectarian strife and national disunity, while the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) termed it as “reckless, inflammatory and unguarded.”
But addressing newsmen, Kukah caused more provocations by his alleged attempt to twist his use of English Language when he said: “If you call for a coup, it means it is something that is not here. It is something that will happen in the future. So is grammar.
“So if I call for it, it means it is not ready. But if I say had it been so, so and so it would have, the tenses are completely different and I may be probably wrong, if you know better, let me know.
“So it is unfair for any journalist or newspapers to say that I called for a military coup,” he stated.
To the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), the more Kukah tries to twist in denial, the higher the angers are aggravated. That informed its description of the Sokoto Diocese bishop as a first ‘class blackmailer’ for claiming in his Christmas message that there would have been a coup had a Southerner occupied the Nigerian seat of power and referring to Islam as violent religion.
Despite denial that he called for coup against the Buhari’s government, Kukah, who did not mention what he said about Islam until after the Sokoto Islamic group on Tuesday gave him a matching order to apologise or quietly leave the state, MURIC called on him to recuse himself from the General Abdul Salaam-led Peace Committee.
The call was made by the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, in a press statement circulated on Wednesday, 30th December, 2020 when it he said, “It will be recalled that Bishop Mathew Hasan Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese indirectly called for a coup and referred to Islam as a violent religion about four days ago. We strongly believe that those pronouncements are inconsistent with the bishop’s status particularly as the secretary of Nigeria’s Peace Committee.
“How did such a belligerent combatant emerge as the secretary of Nigeria’s Peace Committee? What good can come from a man who is filled with hate and bias for a large section of the country? He calls for a coup against a democratically elected government. He stigmatized Islam as a violent religion. He derides the North. We demand that Kukah should honourably recuse himself from the Peace Committee. Failure to do so will have a devastating effect of discrediting that committee. It will mean that the committee was set up in the first place for a partisan purpose.
“This is because many see Bishop Kukah as the de facto leader of the Committee. The Peace Committee must clarify some issues surrounding its formation and modus operandi. Whose idea was the whole thing from the beginning? Where is the committee’s secretariat? Is it true that the whole committee was Kukah’s initiative ab initio? Is it also true that its secretariat is headed and managed by the director of the Kukah Center? If that is so, General Abdulsalam must have been persuaded to come on board and serve as the chairman just to give legitimacy and credibility to the idea.
“This Peace Committee has a credibility crisis on its hands unless it can remove Kukah as secretary and as a member if the bishop fails to recuse himself. Nigerian Muslims no longer have any confidence in the Peace Committee. It may as well disband while the members go home to sleep.
“This is the honourable thing for the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese to do in view of the humongous allegation levelled against him. A national peace committee needs wide acceptance from the general populace in order to function effectively. Unfortunately this does not appear to be the true situation on ground at present.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that the secretary of any organization is its livewire. He keeps their records and writes their reports. A man who is heavily biased against one faith cannot be trusted to prepare a fair report on interfaith issues. That position is too sensitive to be left in the office of a firebrand missionary known for his emotional outbursts.
“The silence of the Peace Committee since the Kukah controversy began is also disturbing. A peace committee whose secretary comes out with blazing guns firing from all cylinders at a section of the country and calls for a coup while its members keep mute gives cause for concern. It gives the impression that the secretary is holding members of the committee to ransom. He calls the shots. After all, any statement to be issued by the committee, ceteris paribus, is expected to be prepared by the same secretary. Here comes the hard nut.
“Nigerian Muslims have no confidence in the Peace Committee as long as Kukah remains its secretary and member. He has failed to remain neutral. His bias against Muslims has been openly displayed. Rev. Fr. Kukah should recuse himself, otherwise the committee has to disband.
“This has become necessary in view of the jaundiced position taken by the Catholic mission yesterday in an official statement. Nigerian Catholics declared their full backing of the preposterous pronouncements of Bishop Kukah. In that situation, it is no longer acceptable to leave the destiny of the Peace Committee in the hands of the Catholic Bishop.
“The question must be asked: who is the secretary of the Peace Committee? Kukah or the Catholic Diocese? A situation whereby Kukah issues a highly combustible statement and the Nigerian Catholic Mission backs him calls for caution.
“MURIC suggests immediate review of the composition and operation of the Peace Committee. The secretariat of the Peace Committee must be moved out of the Kukah Centre. A neutral place must be found. In addition, a neutral person who is not head or official of any religious group or a person known for making volatile statements must be made head of its secretariat. The Peace Committee may also consider coopting a co-chairman who must be a Christian since the current chairman is a Muslim. This will engender balance.
“We call on the Chairman and members of the Peace Committee to take these suggestions seriously in order to retain the respect it currently enjoys. A stitch in time saves nine. Immediate consultations and proper advice will save the committee from any embarrassment in future.”