- Stop ‘blasphemy’ killings, he tells federal, state governments
Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto has asked President Bola Tinubu to invoke Executive Order to promote religious practice in federal universities. Bishop Kukah berated government for ignoring indiscriminate burning of Churches and gruesome ‘blasphemy’ killings. The Bishop of Sokoto made this assertion while delivering a lecture at the 60th anniversary celebration of Aare Afe Babalola‘s call to the bar, in Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado-Ekiti recently. The lecture was titled, “The future of constitutional democracy in Nigeria: Imperative of a new constitution order.”
He said, “A woman cannot say that I gave birth to this child, I carried her in my womb then I am going to kill her, even if she does, because she is exercising what she thinks is a right, the system may tell her, you may have carried her in your womb but you have no right over her life. “A country where anybody can just wake up and say you are accused of blasphemy, we are not in a theocracy, we are in a democracy, there must be therefore sanctions and punishment because if somebody goes and burn a Church or Mosque, what are the consequences?”
The high ranking clergy called on the federal and state governments to take decisive measures against killing of citizens alleged to have insulted any religion or accused of blasphemy. “So for me, these are some of the fundamental issues, the constitution is very clear about the boundaries of religion. “But we have a country where, right now as I am talking to you, there are many federal universities where there are no Churches, there are no Mosques, what are the reasons? The Bishop of Sokoto accused the Vice Chancellors of aiding the non existence of places of worship in federal universities. “In many universities, land has been provided for the building of Churches but vice chancellors, chairman of governing councils, are turning a blind eye. “
I therefore demand that the president of Nigeria by executive order must say that every federal institution, whether it is medical, whether it is educational, must reflect what Nigeria reflects. “The fact that Afe Babalola who has sold everything to build a university, to make him vice chancellor of either Usman Danfodio or University of Nigeria Nsukka, it is unthinkable because like joke, like joke, we have come to a point in Nigeria where the federal government is spending money on some universities, prejudices, ethnicity and deepening the cleavages of local class. “
We cannot be a people, when Nigerians talk about ethnicity and so on, it is because the government has not done enough to enforce that because if you insist that the vice chancellor, because the impression that government create is that we built this university for this community. “So when you go to many universities as I said, even state universities, the governor takes pride in ensuring that only ‘our sons’ and that is why the universities have become so convoluted in Nigeria, every day strike because people who are holding the reins of power, most of them are not eminently qualified, they are just qualified by virtue of religion or they are qualified by ethnicity. “
So I close by saying Nigeria needs to grow, Nigeria needs to develop, Nigeria needs to be democratized, but that it is important that to make Nigerians to treasure democracy, to make Nigerians feel comfortable democracy, we must appreciate the democratisation of development. “That is that the federal government must make sure that it says, it has earmarked that tells where citizens are because if you don’t democratised development, you cannot develop democracy.
In its latest Religious Freedom Report 2023, the Catholic charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), listed Nigeria among countries in Africa where Christians are persecuted the most. Few months ago, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria condemned the practice of denying Christians land to build their places of worship in northern Nigeria; unprovoked attacks on Christians and their places of worship in most part of the North; denying Christian children admission to schools because they bear Christian names; and denying them high-profile courses like medicine, architecture, engineering and a host of others.