By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) has called for the arrest and prosecution of the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah for treasonable felony.
However, in swift reaction, a Muslim coalition, under the auspices of Coalition of Nigerian Muslim Professionals, has cautioned President Buhari and his allies to delete the thought of arresting the bishop, warning that doing so will deplete the fragle peace and bring war over the country.
AYCF’s National President, Yerima Shettima said Kukah was inciting coup against a democratic government.
Recall that Bishop Kukah, in his Christmas Day article, had accused President Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism, adding that there would have been a coup if a non-Northern Muslim President had done half of what President Buhari has done.
But reacting to Kukah’s remark, Shettima urged the Federal Government to place Bishop Kukah on a special watch list.
Shettima said Kukah was openly attempting to “set the South against the North in order to destabilize our country and further complicate matters.”
The statement reads partly: “The AYCF demands the immediate arrest and prosecution of Bishop Kukah for treasonable felony against the Nigerian state.
“Such a reckless statement by Kukah betrays something much more sinister against both the North and the nation as a whole.
“If Kukah wants to play politics, he should not do so in the pulpit and he should keep the Bishop’s office aside and choose any Nigerian political party platform to contest for President in 2023 and stop all the pretences.”
However, in a contrary development, those vilifying the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Archdiocese, Matthew Kukah for speaking against the current administration have been warned to desist from actions that could deplete the peace of the country.
The coalition of Nigerian Muslim Professionals, in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, said that Nigeria will be a great place if there were two or three persons like Kukah.
A statement signed by the group’s National Coordinator, Prof. Mohammed Inuwa, noted that Buhari may have meant well for the country but faulted the President in some actions taken by his administration which it said was not promoting unity.
The Coalition said instead of vilifying the cleric, it would be to the President’s best interests to take Bishop’s message as a wake-up call to adjust for the good of Nigeria
It noted that promoting the interest of one region against others is not what a good leader is known for, adding that in as much it loves the president, the Coalition will want him to leave a legacy of a united Nigeria.
The Muslim coalition condemned in its entirety attacks trailing Kukah’s Christmas Day Message, where he bemoaned the state of the nation, warning that unless leaders sit up, Nigeria was heading towards a failed state.
Kukah had also accused President Buhari of piloting Nigeria into darkness in the message titled: “A Nation in Search of Vindication.”
He had emphasised the worsening state of insecurity in the country and berated the current federal administration of glaringly abandoning the nation’s extant federal character principles and rather promoting nepotism with impunity.
The development has been drawing criticisms from the President’s friends, political associates and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
However, the coalition commended Kukah for what they described as “his boldness to speak truth to power”, faulting those vilifying him.
The Nigerian Muslim Professionals took a swipe at those trolling the Bishop, saying they were doing it for their pecuniary gains and not the interest of the country.
It warned against twisting the message to mean the Bishop endorses coup, saying contrary to those promoting that insinuation, the revered Bishop was too learned to support such ignoble path to installing leadership, saying Nigerians with a conscience would not fall to the antics of those twisting the Bishop’s message for selfish reasons.
The group said having followed Bishop Kukah’s activities and preachings since the days of the military, it was convinced that not too many Nigerians took the interest of the country at heart like Bishop Kukah.
“Even during the military era where people dreaded the powers that be at the time, Bishop Kukah, who was then a Catholic priest spoke truth to those at the helm of affairs without fear or favour. He has shown through his actions all the years that he is a true son of Nigeria in particular and Africa in general,” the group stated.
“We should support him for being bold enough to come out to speak what many Nigerians know is the truth but afraid to speak out for fear of the leadership.
“While we must admit that President Muhammad Buhari means well for the nation, we must say that most people in his government are grossly incompetent and don’t deserve to stay around power even in an uncivilized space,” the group stated.
The group said it would not shy away from the truth even though most of the president’s actions drawing criticisms were in favour of its region.
It flayed the glaring marginalisation of the Igbos in every facet of national life, saying the development was not promoting national cohesion which nationalists that laid down their lives for the country’s independence wanted.
“There’s nothing wrong with Bishop Kukah’s statement in the actual sense. Some regions particularly the South East has been marginalized in successive governments, and the administration of President Muhammad Buhari came and amplified it with the worst,” it added.
It described those attacking Kukah as faceless individuals who were being promoted by selfish people in leadership to silence the truth.
”We strongly condemn the wrong approach taken to respond to a message by a patriotic Nigerian by these incompetent people working to derail the president’s agenda.
“It is completely wrong to be attacking Bishop Kukah by some faceless sponsored groups. Bishop Kukah did not in any way call for a coup, he is too learned to do that.
“We stand completely with Bishop Kukah, this government must be fair to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion,” it said.