The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has distanced itself from clergymen who visited President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that they are supporters of the president and not members of the religious organisation.
On Thursday, a handful of clerics under the aegis of Arewa Pastors Peace Initiative, Nigeria (APPIN) paid Buhari a visit at the presidential villa, Abuja, where among other form of supports, backed the president re-election bid in 2019.
During the visit, the Pastors, who professed their satisfaction of Buhari leadership of the country, told the president of the existence of a list of Pastors on the payroll of the opposition, which explain the Islamization tag placed on the current administration.
But reacting to the development, CAN President, Rev (Dr.) Ayokunle Olusupo, disowned the clergymen, who he said their organisation are not known to the apex Christian body and as such, could not have spoken for people of the faith.
Speaking through a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the leader of Christian faiths in Nigeria, expressed disappointment that people who claimed to be Pastors could have an audience with the president without a mention of Leah Sharibu.
Miss Sharibu was one of the students kidnapped by Boko Haram from a school in Dapchi, Yobe state, in February, but while her colleagues were released after negotiation with the government, the insurgent group refused to let her go after she refused to denounce her faith.
“CAN does not know any of them and their organisation is even alien to the Association and fortunately enough they did not claim to be part of CAN,” Oladeji noted in the statement. We are happy that the Northern Christian Association of Nigeria (Northern CAN) has also disowned them.
“We are totally disappointed that a group of people who claimed to be Pastors will be visiting the President without asking for the freedom of Leah Sharibu and over 100 Chibok girls who are languishing in the captivity of the Boko Haram terrorists, whose only crime is their religion.”
Downplaying the visit of the clergymen to that of supporters of Buhari, CAN pointed that rather than asking the president to stop killings in parts of the country dominated by Christians, “they were so concern with the 2019 election that they forgot to tell the President that the primary duty of any serious government is to provide security to the governed irrespective of their religious and ethnic affiliations.”
CAN, however, challenged the clergymen to disclose lists of ‘Pastors’ on the payroll of opposition, vowing that the religious body will not be deterred by polarisation attempts and blackmailing of its leaders from speaking out in defence of people who shared the faith.
“We are waiting for the list of the pastors whom they know that are on the pay roll list of the opposition who are allegedly guilty of hate speech,” CAN dared the clergymen to disclose the list they claimed to possess.
“We all know how those who engaged in such an ungodly exercise in the Bible ended up.
“The Christian Association of Nigeria will not be discouraged by the activities of those whose agenda include but not limited to polarisation of the Association and blackmailing its leadership.
“We cannot turn the blind eye to the ordeal of our brothers and sisters anywhere in the country. Those who are not concerned about the violence in the country are also free to associate and express their views while Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church is on the throne to reward loyalty and judge the betrayals sooner or later.
“CAN as an organisation is apolitical and we always ask our members to pray for President Buhari and other political office holders in the country to rule with the fear of God.”