– Governor Samuel Ortom has added his voice to the debate concerning Bishop Matthew Kukah’s Christmas homily
– The Bishop’s message had rattled some groups, after which a particular forum asked him to leave Sokoto state
– Governor Ortom says such ultimatums to people who spoke against impunity are not acceptable
Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom to a statement credited to a group known as Muslim Solidarity Forum which asked the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Kukah to tender an unreserved apology over his Christmas Day message or leave Sokoto the state.
The governor stated that the demand of the forum is in contradiction to the provisions of the Nigerian constitution which accord every citizen the right to live freely in any part of the country.
Governor Ortom’s stance on the issue was contained in a statement sent to Legit.ng on Thursday, January 14 by his spokesman, Terver Akase.
He said the demand of the group suggests Nigeria is being controlled by forces hellbent on setting the country ablaze if their interests are not guaranteed.
He added that:
“Both Christians and Muslims need to set aside religious and other sentiments to come together in humility to fast and pray for peace and unity of the country, rather than the current situation where some persons are fanning embers of disunity and hatred.”
The Benue state governor advised that people who love Nigeria should desist from making inflammatory statements capable of heightening tensions and taking the country to the precipice of chaos and disintegration.
According to him, Bishop Kukah is not the first to speak out against impunity, injustice, and the collapsing security situation being witnessed in parts of the country.
Governor Ortom also commended the federal government for issuing a statement to caution the group over its quit notice to the revered Catholic Bishop.
He noted that:
“Bishop Kukah remains a true patriot who speaks to give direction and make recommendations on the way the people should be governed in an equitable and just manner.
“Nigeria belongs to all its citizens and no individual or group has the right to threaten others and whip them into silence.
“Calls such as the one made by Muslim Solidarity Forum can only lead the country to a state of lawlessness which does no nation any good.
“Democracy is built on the rule of law and freedom of speech is also anchored on the rule of law and to the extent that it does not infringe on the rights of other people.”
Recall that presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, had in a statement issued on Wednesday, January 13, said that the ultimatum by the group is wrong because it is not in line with Nigeria’s Constitution.
Shehu further said the right for all religions to co-exist is enshrined in the Constitution, adding that it is the duty of the government to ensure it is respected.
Legit.ng had earlier reported that Bishop Kukah accused some people of inciting violence against him following the backlash that followed his Christmas day message.
Specifically, the highly-respected Bishop made the accusation against an Islamic group, Jama’atu Nasril Islam.
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