The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, says he is shocked by the claim of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that Christians are being persecuted in the country.
CAN had backed the inclusion of Nigeria by the US in the list of nations that tolerate religious persecution.
Adebayo Oladeji, special assistant on media and communications to Samson Ayokunle, CAN president, in a statement, said the US was not blind to the alleged killing and alienation of Christians in key political appointments.
He also said Christians are the targets of the Boko Haram insurgent group and bandits.
“All the key appointments that are being made since the second term of the President began, follow the same blueprint. These are facts and they are violations of some portions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended),” he said.
“It is widely believed that no country survives two civil wars. We, therefore, call on the government to correct the imbalances and not to be insensitive to the new development but instead address all the factors that are responsible.
“It is a fact that not fewer than 95 per cent of those who are being detained by the terrorists are Christians and the government has been paying lips service towards securing their freedoms.
“Leah Sharibu is a case study and the only reason why the government that secured the release of her colleagues has not freed her is because of her religion. We wonder why the government has not done the needful to liberate this innocent girl who happens to be a daughter of a Police officer.”
But speaking at the closing ceremony of 77th annual Islamic vacation course (IVC) organised by the Muslim Society of Nigeria (MSSN) at Bayero University, Kano, Abubakar said CAN’s claim is “false and partial”.
He said the criminal activities perpetrated by armed “Fulani herdsmen” were not triggered by religion, “because not all Fulanis are Muslims”.
He said there are Christian Fulanis just as there are Muslims ones.
“If such persecution really exists, such is supposed to be tabled at the Interfaith Forum where Muslims and Christians leaders meet periodically to discuss issues that would promote harmonious coexistence between the two religions,” Abubakar said.
“Many Fulanis are atheists whose main interest is to protect their cattle.”
The federal government in July also refuted claims that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is alienating and persecuting Christians.