The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked an Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, to retract his statement accusing some soldiers of engaging in criminalities.
Gumi had after meeting with bandits that abducted 27 students of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, reportedly said: “What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and non-Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite crisis.”
But CAN in a statement on Wednesday by its General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, said the Islamic cleric’s statement could lead to division in the country.
The religious body also berated President, Muhammadu Buhari’s silence on the comment made by the cleric.
The Christina organisation alleged that “Buhari’s prolonged silence is tantamount to an endorsement of Gumi’s dangerous statement.”
The statement read in part:“The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has expressed shocks, pains, and disappointment in one Islamic leader, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, over his alleged profiling of military operatives recently while addressing some bandits in Tegina forest, a border town between Niger and Kaduna States.
“We call on Gumi to immediately withdraw the unpatriotic and divisive utterances credited to him in the interest of peace and unity of this country.
“If anyone said it was the Christian soldiers who are attacking armed bandits, that person does not wish this country well and he doesn’t want the war against terrorism and banditry to end in victory. Gumi’s so-called audio evidence cannot be taken seriously because audio evidence can be deliberately arranged to make a point.
“Secondly, how can we ascertain the credibility of the person alleging that it was the Christian soldiers that were attacking communities and bandits? This unreasonable outburst is not only demoralizing and a plot to divide the Nigerian military into two along religious lines, it equally derogatively portrays the non-Christian soldiers as being not committed to fighting criminality.
“We still want to believe that Sheik Gumi was quoted out of context. But if it was true, then, the unity and peace of the country are being threatened by the sentimental statement of this cleric. We have not heard the Presidency react to this dangerous statement as they are supposed to do, cautioning this cleric who has thrown caution to the wind. Such a grave allegation is evil, divisive, unpatriotic, ill-wind, and reprehensible.
“We ask again, is Sheik Gumi trying to polarise the military along the religious divides? Is he inciting the bandits against Christians? Is Gumi saying that the Muslim soldiers are on vacation in the ongoing war against terrorists, murderous herdsmen and bandits? What good will this statement do to the insecurity in the country? We are of the opinion that the government of Nigeria should seriously caution Gumi for his reckless and inflammatory statement.”