By Stanley Onyekwere
The New Initiative for Credible Leadership (NICreL), has cautioned the founder of Liberation City, Pastor Chris Okafor, to refrain from making reckless statement that could tear Nigeria into pieces.
The civil society group opined that Okafor’s recent outburst on the crisis in Kaduna State and Governor Nasir El-Rufai is unexpected of a preacher of the gospel.
NICreL in a ststement through its Executive Director, Samson Onwu, said Okafor’s comment could undermine peace and security across the country.
It recalled that Okafor had during a Sunday programme warned the Kaduna State Governor, to stop persecuting Christians and preachers in the state or risks the wrath of God.
It was gathered that the preacher gave Governor El-Rufai, whom he likened to Biblical Herob seven days to reverse bill at the state House of Assembly to license religious bodies or would be visited by God.
The statement reads: “The Kaduna State Government recently sought to incite sectarian strife by interpreting “A Bill for a Law to Substitute the Kaduna State Religious Preaching Law, 1984,” in ways that suggest it was targeted at Christians in the state.
“Pastor Okafor went further to warn the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai to abandon the bill within seven days or face the wrath of God and possibly die within the first two years of his next term in office.
“He went further to link Governor el-Rufai’s choice of a running mate in the just concluded election with the bill while citing this as basis to assert that Christians are being persecuted in Kaduna state.”
It continued: “The New Initiative for Credible Leadership, after reviewing a video clip in which Pastor Okafor made these and other inciting comments over the bill found it necessary to condemn the preacher’s action and utterances in the strongest terms possible.
“Interestingly, while Pastor Okafor presented the bill as something that was initiated just a few days ago, the bill has been with the Kaduna State House of Assembly for over three years.
“t is therefore irresponsible of Pastor Okafor to use a proposed legislation meant to discourage hate preaching as a basis to incite further hatred along sectarian lines.
The pastor’s admixture of politics into his sermon equally signposts an emerging dangerous trend that could undermine peace and security across the country as clergymen encourage the faithful to migrate their sectarian biases, hatred and disaffection into everyday life.
“The pastor has by his acts and utterances certified himself as a candidate for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the event that any sectarian violence breaks out because of his preaching.
“We urge the Kaduna State House of Assembly and the Kaduna State Government to note that the incitement by Pastor Okafor is a wake-up call that they cannot continue to delay passing the bill and signing it into law if fanatical and extremist clergymen must be checked.
“In the interim, the state government should explore exiting legislation, including the anti-terrorism laws, to discourage merchants of hate whose main intention is to cause crises that are of the magnitude as terrorism.”