The Christian Association of Nigeria has urged the government not to gag the people or arrest those who speak about its failures.
CAN noted that political leaders should learn to tolerate the criticism issued by citizens on government policies and programmes.
This was revealed by the CAN President, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, in a statement titled, “Political Leaders Should Learn to Tolerate Citizens’ Criticism of Policies and Programmes of Government.”
The statement reads in part, “We congratulate Nigerians in advance as we are enthusiastically looking forward to the independence anniversary of our dear country.
“On the heightened situation in the country with its attendant fear and tension, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) hereby admonishes those in political leadership of the nation to exercise caution in the way they treat observations of people and comments so as not to further plunge the nation into unnecessary crisis.”
The group also advised against inciting people against leaders, ethnic and religious groups.
“We urge Nigerians to be modest and factual in their comments and respect those who are leading us by giving honour to whom honour is due; however, that does not erode their rights and freedom of expression by speaking the truth always to those they elected into power without fear.
“We must avoid inciting people against leaders, ethnic and religious groups. We are only calling for restraints and balanced judgement. We must speak the truth always because it is the truth alone that can set free.
“In the same vein, we urge the government not to gag the people or see those who speak about the failures of government as enemies to be intimidated, hounded down like preys and arrested. This will only worsen the situation by widening the divide and fan embers of passion.
“It is being reported by the media recently that one Retired Navy Commodore Kunle Olawunmi has been invited by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) over comments he allegedly made on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily Breakfast programme last Wednesday.’ We thank God that it was a friendly chat as claimed by the Defence Headquarters.
“We urge the government to tolerate criticisms that are constructive as they would help in finding solutions to our problems, especially those that expose the ills in our society and the people behind our ordeals.
“This would help us get to the roots of our problems and solve them. We must promote peace, love and unity in all we say and do.
“We once again urge Nigerians to run away from spreading fake news because it is damaging and totally unhelpful.”