The presidency has attacked Catholic cleric, Bishop Matthew Kukah, over his recent address before the United States congress as regards insecurity in Nigeria.
The presidency accused the cleric of spreading falsehood with the intent to discredit the administration.
Kukah had in a virtual appearance before the American lawmakers criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of the security situation in Nigeria.
He also alleged that Buhari was nepotistic in key appointments and favoured Muslims over Christians.
In its reaction, the presidency in a statement by presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu said Kukah was doing his “best to sow discord and strife among Nigerians” as 234 muslim pupils were still in the captivity of the bandits.
Shehu accused the cleric of falsehood, saying attacks by armed men stand condemned but are not targeted at Christians.
The statement reads, “It is unfortunate, and disappointing, for citizens of Nigeria to bear witness to one of their Churchmen castigating their country in front of representatives of a foreign parliament.
“We are all too familiar with these overseas political tours that opposition politicians take – visiting foreign leaders and legislators in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. So, the argument goes, if they are heard seriously abroad, then Nigerian citizens back home should surely listen to them too.
“There is no bias in this government when the president is northern and Muslim, the vice president southern and Christian, and the cabinet equally balanced between the two religions. But neither is there anything in our Constitution to state that political posts must be apportioned according to ethnicity or faith. It takes a warped frame of mind for a critic to believe ethnicity is of primary importance in public appointments. It is yet more troubling to hear a Churchman isolating one group for criticism purely on ethnic lines.
“With due respect to the esteemed position he holds, the Bishop’s assertion that only Christian schools are being targeted by bandits or terrorists is not supported by the facts on the ground. It is sad to say but also true that victims of crime, kidnapping, banditry and terrorism cut across all strata of the society. Sad but true that Kankara students in Katsina State were stolen by bandits of the same Islamic faith as those they took away.
“The same may be true of those who are still holding the 134 students of the Islamic School at Tegina in Niger State. The nation witnessed the sad incident of the female students abducted by bandits at Jangebe in Zamfara State and the over 100 predominantly Muslim students of the Federal Government Girls College Birnin Yauri in Kebbi State who are currently in captivity- and the nation’s security agencies are hard at work to release them unharmed.
“The attack on Christian students is sad and unacceptable; so also is the abduction of students of other faiths. The claim that only Christian schools are being targeted is totally untrue. As a nation and a people, we must together define evil as evil. We must not allow our religious differences to divide us. No one gains but the evil doers when we divide our ranks according to ethnicity and religion in confronting them. The bandit, kidnapper and terrorist are the enemies of the people who should be confronted in unison.”