The Nigerian Christians Elders Forum (NCEF), an affiliate of the
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), wednesday said Nigeria
was fatally sliding into an Islamic State under President
Muhammadu Buhari’s government.

The NCEF position came as a response to serial killing of
Christians in the northern part of the country in recent times. Last
week, Christian students were brutally killed and burnt in Talata
Marafa, Zamfara State, over alleged blasphemy.
The NCEF also cited the arrest of Mr. Joe Chinakwe for naming
his dog ‘Buhari’ in Ogun State as a clear case of discrimination
against Christians in the country.

According to the NCEF Chairman, Chief Solomon Asemota (SAN),
“There is a bill now pending before the National Assembly, titled:
“NGO Regulatory Bill” intended to silence non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) including the Christian Association of
Nigeria (CAN).

“It is not in dispute that Nigeria is an Islamic State contrary to
Section 10 of the constitution. What is in dispute is whether
Nigeria is ruled by mainstream Muslims or by Islamist Jihadists.
We plead with the Sultan of Sokoto to appreciate that Nigeria is
safer and more peaceful when the federal or state government
does not adopt any religion as ‘State Religion’.”

The NCEF explained that the overt dominance of the National
Security Council by members of the Muslim faith was worriesome
and expressed reservations whether Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
plays any role in the council.
“It is as a result of the understanding (or lack of it) of civilized
jihad that we are apprehensive of those in the ‘Security and
Intelligence Committee’ of the federal government by some
unexplained reasons who are mainly Muslims.

President Buhari, (Muslim), Chief of Defence Staff (Christian),
Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Minister of Defence,
Minister of Internal Affairs, Inspector General of Police (IG),
National Security Adviser (NSA), Director General of DSS are all
Muslims from the North.

“We are not too sure whether the Vice President is a member of
this committee following information that he was once excluded
from the meeting which the president called. When the vice
president summoned the same meeting in the absence of
President Buhari who was away in the United Kingdom, there was
resistance and the meeting had to end abruptly,” the Christians
elders stated.

Asemota maintained that going by the activities of the Fulani
herdsmen, it is clear that a jihad is being staged through the back
door, adding: “The atrocities committed by Fulani herdsmen such
as the number of persons killed, farmland and buildings
destroyed with other property during the same period were not

“The conclusion which we, Christians, draw is that jihad is being
committed against our country especially when the cohesive
instrument of state is in the hands of three ethnic nationalities
and one religion. This enlists fear in the minds of the populace,
especially Christians.”

The group also differed with the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar
III, on the interpretation of the secular status of Nigeria, stating
that: “NCEF begs to disagree with the Sultan that Nigeria is a
multi-religious state based on the fact that the constitution which
forms the basis upon which our founding fathers agreed to live
together as a country, provided under Section 10 that ‘the
government of the federation or of a state shall not adopt any
religion as ‘State Religion’.

“Nigeria has multi-cultural and multi-religious communities, tribes,
ethnic nationalities but one nation. It is correctly assumed that in
the interest of peace and justice, the constitution in Section 10
prohibits the state from religious participation by way of
recognising one and two religions. Multi-religious country does
not fit the interpretation of Section 10 rather, it is its opposite.
“The Sultan’s interpretation, we submit, is intended to justify Islam
and Christianity as state religions until Islam dominates to
become de facto and de jure religion of Nigeria.”

On the arrest of Chinakwe, NCEF said: “If Nigeria is being run as a
secular state, Sections 10, 37, and 38 of the constitution
guarantees that the right of private and family life, right to
freedom of thought, conscience and religion should protect Joe
Chinakwe and the complainant would have been arrested but
because Nigeria is an ‘Islamic State’, Chinakwe has to face trial,
and in the process, promoting the most effective way to get rid
of critics which is to instill fear in ordinary Nigerians. One wonders
if the dog had been named Gowon or Jonathan would there have
been any furore about the matter.”

The Christian leaders also queried the short change of the Niger-
Delta in oil revenue since the discovery of oil in Nigeria, stressing
that it has been shown that out of N96.212 trillion crude oil
earnings, only N12.3 trillion was paid to the oil producing areas
as derivation.

Had 50 per cent derivation as obtained before 1966 applied, the
Niger Delta would have earned N48.106 trillion.

“The fears of ‘Christian’ in the Niger Delta is that the region may
be abandoned to its fate by an Islamist federal government, after
all, ‘all land in Nigeria has been bequeathed to the Islamists by
Allah and therefore, reserves’ the right to abandon same as the
British,” they observed.