By Toby Prince
The Middle Belt Conscience Guard (MBCG) has chastised ex-Chief of Army Staff, General TY Danjuma and other Christian elders for their biased and un-Christian-like stand in the ongoing trial of embattled Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen.
According to the group, these supposed Christian elders are not different from the biblical account of Peter, who betrayed Jesus Christ, using hate speeches and campaign of calumny to instigate other Christians.
Read full statement below;
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media.
The leadership of the Middle Belt Conscience Guard’s (MBCG) delightedly welcomes you to this press conference. We appreciate and thank Almighty God for his grace, mercies and kindness unto us as a people and a nation these years.
The MBCG is once again motivated to address you on an urgent national matter. We outing today is premised on the fact that the explosive issue at hand has the potential of throwing our country into serious national crisis which would be of dire consequences to peace, unity and security of our country.
Nigerians would recall that a few days ago, elder statesmen and leaders of thought respectively, under the banner of National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) led by the trio of former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (rtd) and former Governor of Old Anambra state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, released a public statement titled “CJN Onnoghen: What is Really at Stake and the Way Out.”
In the statement which oozed with hate speeches crafted to pitch Christians against Muslims in Nigeria also insanely and provocatively launched an unjustifiable attack against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, and innuendos reference to other prominent Nigerians the group baptized with the hateful label of “Islamists” and imposed all manner of resentful doctrines on these personalities.
MBCG realized from the resentful wordings of NCEF’s statement that the cause of current umbrage is the ongoing controversy surrounding the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen by the President based on the Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), where he is standing trial over alleged breach of code of conduct for public officers in Nigeria.
Our focus is not to explore the propriety or impropriety of the President’s action or the innocence or culpability of Justice Onnoghen’s over the alleged breaches of the law. The matter is already at the level of adjudication by lawful courts. Therefore, describing it as a “judicial coup,” by NCEF is preempting the verdict of the court and amounts to contempt of court.
But we infinitely frown at NCEF’s brazen attempt at incitement of Nigerians against themselves and the negative profiling of Mr. President, veiled personalities, religious sects and ethnic groups in the efforts to explain their bitterness in public domain.
As religious leaders, whether Christian, Islamic, traditionalists or even atheists, we have a sacred responsibility to always preach peaceful co-existence and harmony, as copiously admonished by the doctrines and scriptures of the various religious sects. Christians particularly believe God fights their battles; it is not man.
We therefore, find it strange that these elder statesmen, who have served this country in various capacities and for decades would condescend to such level of intolerance and immaturity in handling a perceived grievance. We are compelled to conclude that they prefer to see this country in flames, than peace, which merely thinking about its possibility is very scary.
The MBCG is appalled at the dexterous twisting of facts by the NCEF’s leaders just to find justification for the evil preachments, which would be potent enough to incense perverse minds to amplify the subsisting sectarian, ethno-religious and political crises bedeviling Nigeria. This is thoughtless.
It is outrightly perfidious to infer or even claim a section of Nigeria, where the President Buhari hails is intent on truncating the country’s democracy and to enthrone Sharia as “national ideology,” because of the existence of recurring conflicts. Yes, these conflicts are “recurring” as they know, and it predates the Buhari Presidency. It smouldered stronger when a Christian, former President Goodluck Jonathan was at the helms of affairs leadership in Nigeria.
Worse still, to classify President Buhari as belonging to the Salafist sect is equally baseless negative profiling, as the President is a known member of the Sunni sect, unknown to such Islamic extremism to the extent of imposing what NCEF described as “political Islam” on Nigeria.
The Judiciary religiously, like other institutions of government strictly adheres to seniority in succession. There should be no furor or ill-feelings on the choice of Onnoghen’s successor in Acting capacity because in the latest case of suspended Justice Onnoghen, had the next senior Supreme Court Justice to him been a Christian, he would have still stepped into CJN’s shoes.
Besides, the Buhari Presidency has pragmatically demonstrated aversion to threats to public peace and security by aberrational Islamic sects and extremists. The case of the Sheik Ibraheem EL-zakzaky-led Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) is a clear example.
The NCEF cannot deny that Boko Haram, which later became monstrous and expanded unimaginable tentacles started under a Christian President in 2004, but he could not nip it in the bud. The six years of the Jonathan Presidency amply energized the sect.
It is undeniable that only under a Buhari Presidency that Nigerians are now experiencing any respite from Boko Haram insurgency. Can a clear conscience ascribe such a leader as bending undemocratic or Islamic agenda?
What is built on falsehood hardly stands and it is ensnared by its own traps. NCEF clearly overstretched its wisdom by claiming in August last year, the Presidency planned a “coup” against the National Assembly (NASS). It is an allusion to the leadership struggles in NASS. But the incumbent Senate President is a Muslim and ditto, the Speaker is a Christian. This has always been the composition.
Or are Christians’ too, part of NCEF’s so-called agents of the entrenchment of “Sharia ideology” in Nigeria? It sounds funny and more like groping in the dark to cook reasons to heat up the polity and disrupt Nigeria’s peace and stability.
And the worse of it all, MBCG observes with dismay, the transmogrification of NCEF into partisan lobbyists and agents or advocates of support/votes for Christian presidential candidates in 2019. The forum stated inter alia, “NCEF wishes to restate its commitment as Christian Elders to lend full prayerful support to Christian Presidential candidates….”
Such utterances are disgraceful and unbefitting of elder statesmen of their status, irrespective of the forum of their assemblage. It is a flagrant disregard and abuse of extant laws to use ethnicity or religion for political campaigns. And it amazes that NCEF leaders are angling for compliance with tenets of liberal democracy and constitutionalism, yet freely make utterances which clearly undermine law and order, the tripod upon which democracy flourishes’.
Perhaps, NCEF may not know the gravity the statement above. But if any Islamic group in Nigeria makes such a statement in a scenario where two leading presidential contenders are from the same tribe and profess same religion, what would be the interpretation of NCEF or the Christian community in Nigeria? We must tread with caution!
MBCG wishes to appeal to the conscience of the NCEF elders to be more circumspect when they make comments or air their grievances. No doubt, the NCEF public statement is swathed in hate speeches, inflammatory, condemnable and against the peaceful co-existence we all strive to entrench in Nigeria. The NCEF leaders should strive to be builders’, rather than destroyers!
May Almighty God help Nigeria and thank you all.
Prince Raymond Enero,
Middle Belt Conscience Guard’s (MBCG)
Dr. Paul Itodo
Middle Belt Conscience Guard (MBCG)