The Christian Association of Nigeria has described the attack by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs on the hijab crisis and appointment of Appeal Court Justices as evasive.
NSCIA recently attacked CAN for opposing the nomination of 13 Northerners/ Muslims out of the 20 jurists listed as Court of Appeal Justices.
It said the Christian body has not only shown morbid hatred for Islam and its adherents but has always adopted scurrilous propaganda as a strategy to cause undue tension in the country.
But in a statement on Sunday by Joseph Bade Daramola, its General Secretary, CAN fired back, noting that the Judiciary was the appendage of NSCIA under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, especially throughout his first term.
It also alleged that members of the Islamic council were in charge of affairs.
It said: “Our attention has been drawn to a press statement issued by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) where the Council used vulgar, immature language and unprintable words to describe the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in its bid to justify the obvious lopsided appointments of the Federal Government in favour of its members. The Council was smart by half when it picked an example of just one arm of government without addressing the totality of fundamental questions on all the arms of government.
“The NSCIA evaded those troubling issues that are well known not only to Nigerians but members of the international community; those knotty issues that have pushed our country on the edge of the precipice.
“By doing so, NSCIA has unwittingly exposed itself as a promoter of bad governance, divisiveness and injustice in Nigeria under the Buhari administration.
“Why did the Council remain evasive on the big issue of the Court of Appeal? Interestingly, there was never a time when CAN ever attacked or made a veiled reference to NSCIA over the obvious lopsided appointments in the country.
“CAN’s concern has always been directed at the Federal Government as a concerned non-governmental group but NSCIA as an underdog of government rather took it upon itself to speak for the government. We wish the Council had allowed the government to speak for itself.
“We all know how they removed Justice Walter Onnoghen from office without following due process. But for the critical section of the polity including the likes of Col. Umar Dangiwa, the incumbent President of the Court of Appeal would have been denied her succession privilege and right. We didn’t see NSCIA on the list.
“Is it falsehood or character assassination that the Security Council of the country has remained an appendage of NSCIA under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari?
“The Constitutional position is that all of us, Christians and Muslims are stakeholders in this country, and votes were not collated on the basis of religion.
“So for the government to bend or lean towards Muslims in its appointment of Security Chiefs is unconstitutional and doesn’t take into consideration the varied interests of other ethnic and religious groups.”
According to CAN, the Muslim North has a tradition of focusing on pushing a religious agenda in a multi-ethnic society like Nigeria at the expense of developmental issues.
It said, "Up till today, it is those things that cannot bring development in education that the NSCIA members are still fighting for such as the wearing of hijab in schools started by Christians and are still largely being maintained by them. Will a girl wearing hijab be more brilliant in school than the rest of her counterparts? They have forgotten that till today, we are not mounting pressure on the government to introduce the Christian culture to the Islamic schools."
The CAN insisted that Nigerian government under Buhari has favoured only one religion, saying, "NSCIA claims that it “would not allow the serial falsehood of CAN and its propensity for character assassination of people on the basis of their religious identity to stand because truth is irrefragable.”
"We demand answer for the following:
Is it falsehood or character assassination that the Security Council of the country has remained an appendage of NSCIA under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari? The Constitutional position is that all of us, Christians and Moslems are stakeholders in this country, and votes were not collated on the basis of religion. So for the government to bend or lean towards Muslims in its appointment of Security Chiefs is unconstitutional and doesn't take into consideration the varied interests of other ethnic and religious groups. That is why those who oversee the security architecture are failing because those who are responsible for the killings, banditry and kidnapping in the country share same faith with them.
"Whereas, if the monopoly is broken even as widely canvassed by eminent political and opinion leaders of Islamic faith, surely the prevailing ugly security situation in the country would have been a thing of the past, or at worst reduced to the barest minimum. But a situation where hunters and robbers draw from the same source can never yield any good result!
"We dare either the Federal Government or its self-appointed spokespersons, NSCIA, to publish names, state of origins and religions of the appointments by President Buhari into the following offices since 2015 to date: Ministers of Defence, Police Affairs and Interior, the National Security Advisers (NSA), the Inspectors-General of Police, Director-Generals of the Security Service, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA); Chairmen, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); the Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA); the Comptrollers-Generals, Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Correctional Service, Federal Fire Service, and Commandant-General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC). Out of all these, maybe only one or two are Christians and from the South!
"Others are the Accountant-General of the Federation, all heads of the agencies and parastatals. The whole world will then know the agent of falsehood and character assassination between CAN and NSCIA. The grand plan of subtle Islamization is to make a Muslim the head of every key board, committee, parastatal and put Christians under without much influence in the decision-making process in the establishment (irrespective of their number).
"Cases of this abound severally. This observation of the Christian Association of Nigeria has been recently strengthened by the ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria’ of the US Department of State. In the report, it was stated that, ‘traditional relationships were used to pressure government officials to favor particular ethnic groups in the distribution of important positions and other patronage.’"
The Christian body also noted that the North, which it says has a history of focusing on Islamic/Arabic education was now complaining about Christians occupying some positions that western education had earned them.
It said, "We need to go back to history to understand why in the early years of the emergence of our country as a nation, more Christians were eligible for employment into the public service.
"Where were the members of NSCIA in the 1800s when Western Education was brought to this part of our world and Christians in the Northern and Southern parts of the country were sending their children to schools? Were they not sending theirs to Arabic and Q’uranic schools? Was it Arabic or Qur’anic studies that they would use to get appointment to government offices and the courts? Were they not opposing self-rule initially when the Southerners moved the motion for it because they were not prepared educationally for it?"