CONFAB: CAN Expresses Reservation over Composition of Committee on Religion


Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has repudiated Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, Chairman of National Conference for excluding its members in the constitution of Conference Committee on Religion.

CAN faulted the composition of the Committee on Religion, saying it is heavily lopsided in favour of Muslims.

The association voiced its displeasure via a press statement signed by Mr. Sunny Obie, the association’s director of national issues, noting that Chairman of the Conference, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, deliberately distributed CAN representatives at the conference to other committees.

According to the statement, “Kutigi decided to scatter the Christians in the confab and brought Nurudeen Lemu, the son of Sheikh Lemu, who is from Niger State to chair the committee and did not pick any delegate representing CAN”.

Obie accused Kitigi of deliberately including Christians who obviously cannot influence any decision on the committee while also aiding their ineffectiveness.

“The supposed Christian in the committee, Dr. Jonathan Obaje representing the Diaspora in the confab has been given express permission by Kutigi to travel back overseas for holiday; he is not even in Nigeria at present and does not represent CAN”, Obie said.

“The delegate is not around and Christians will be affected during voting. Bishop Felix Ajakaiye who was named co-Chairman in the committee is representing Ekiti State and not CAN. In that case, we have already lost. The ratio will now be 12 members for Muslims and 6 for Christians”.

Obie said Kutigi’s action clearly shows that he is working out a script to undermine the interest of the Christians in the confab, adding that if any Christian would be co-chairman of the committee on religion, it should have been one who is closer to where Boko Haram Islamic extremists are wreaking havoc.

“Ordinarily, the Christians who have been on the receiving end from the members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect in the North should be a co-chairman in the Committee on Religion”, he said.

“But what Kutigi did was to pick a Muslim from the North as chairman and a Christian from the South West (Ajakaiye) who has little or no knowledge of what is happening in the North as co-chairman. The interest of Christians in this case, will not be adequately protected. Already, the confab is a stage-managed conference. President Goodluck Jonathan has a good intention; but there is a problem in allowing Kutigi to be chairman”.

Obie questioned the reason why Kutigi, a Niger State citizen decided to pick his Muslim brother from Niger State to head such a sensitive committee.

Obie maintained that
Christians in Nigeria are not happy and are very disappointed that a man as highly placed as Kutigi would allow his religion to override national interest.

“So we are asking the Vice Chairman of that Conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi what he is doing there? It may also interest Nigerians to note that none of the delegates sent by CAN were allowed to head any committee in the confab; this is unfortunate. Where is the transparency? Where is the equity and fairness?” the statement read.

“For us, we have no problem with Ajakaiye but we see his choice as a mischief by Kutigi. Ajakaiye is a Christian from the South West but to us, a Christian from the North and CAN delegate who knows how Christians are being slaughtered on daily basis by Boko Haram should be the co-chairman of the committee. But Kutigi refused because he is carrying out an Islamic agenda. These are the same people who claimed that Jonathan skewed the conference to favour the Christians. But the truth has now been revealed that Kutigi is the person who skewed the committee to undermine the Christians”.

They called for equal representation in the confab, demanding that if Muslims are 12, Christians must be 12 in the religious committee.

CAN also demanded that Obaje should be replaced “because he doesn't know what is going on in this country”.

“We want a Christian from the North to be a co-chair”, CAN demanded.

“Anything short of that means that Kutigi is biased and is playing an Islamic agenda against Christians in this country. We are therefore doubt his credibility to pilot the affairs of the good conference put together by the Jonathan's administration”.

In response to CAN statement, Confab's Assistant Secretary (Media and Communications), Mr. Akpandem James dismissed the association as “just looking for trouble where there's none”. He also avers that CAN can not dictate the composition of the committee.

“Is Bishop Ajakaiye not a Christian? Somebody is a Christian and because he is not a CAN delegate he shouldn't be co-chairman? Look, CAN is just an association and it is not every Christian that is a member. Not all churches in Nigeria are members of CAN. Must somebody come from Borno or Yobe State before heading a committee on religion”, James said.

“We had few people representing CAN and is that a group that should dictate what to do? The committee is made up of Christians and Muslims, whether you are a member of CAN or Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria”.

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