The attention of the North East Zone of Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) and indeed the Christian community in Nigeria has been drawn to an online media publication by the DAILY POST with the headline Religious Intolerance; Islamic Group blasts Christian body over attack on Sultan, makes revelations. The publication was said to have emanated from the desk of the Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof. Ishaq Akintola.

In the said publication, he unleashed a diatribe on the Nigerian Church and affronted Nigerian Christians, using uncouth and provocative language. In a brazen display of denying reality, the publication denied there was any persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

The question to ask Prof. Akintola is whether there has not been Islamic persecution against Christians and Christianity in Nigeria since the 80s? Whether the Maitatsine Islamic revivalist group’s uprising of 1980s did not persecute the Church through killings, maiming, looting and burning of Churches? Whether the Boko Haram and Fulani militias of the 21st century have not been major instrument of persecuting Christians in this country from the North to the South? We want to ask, is Prof. Akintola sure he is speaking on behalf of the Muslims or some pay masters somewhere he must please at all cost including endangering the peace of Nigeria? If he has any grudge against any Christian, he should face the person(s) squarely and tell them what he knows about them and whatever other “revelations” he has about them. But to denigrate and insult the entire Christian population in Nigeria in the manner he did smacks of impudence.

For clarity, he is a Southern Muslim from the Southern part of the country and might not have lived in any state of the North, is his writing based on hearsay, a script given to him or is he speaking from personal experience and knowledge? For those of us who have lived through it for almost four decades, we have facts and figures to place on the table when it matters. To tell the entire Christian people in Northern Nigeria that they are lying about a persecution that is so prevalent is to stand truth on its head and he has done so shamelessly. He lacks the right to comment on such issues, while living in his comfort zone in Southern Nigeria.

Let true Muslims speak and attempt a denial, then we, who live side by side with them, will open our records and ask them what happened in these periods:

Kano State (December, 18th – 20th, 1980) when the Maitatsine Islamic revivalist group attacked and killed about 4,000 Christians and burnt several churches and properties worth millions of naira? What was the provocation? Kaduna State (October 25th – 30th, 1982) when Maitatsine riot consumed over 50 Christian lives? Borno State (December 26th – 29th, 1982) when Maitatsine killed over 100 Christians and Churches destroyed. Gongola State (February 15th -2nd March, 1984) when Maitatsine killed over 500 Christians and Churches and properties destroyed? I was one those who fled to take refuge in the Army Barracks for 3 weeks. Gombe State (September, 7th – 9th, 2000) when Sharia implementation riot led to the death of 25 Christians? Jigawa State (June, 2001) where 15 churches and 14 pastors’ residences were burnt down? Bauchi State (August 5th, 2001) when Muslims attacked and killed about 100 Christians and rendered 3, 000 of them refugees? Niger State (May-June, 2002) when at least 75 Christians were arrested for opposing the implementation of Sharia? Plateau State (February, 2004) when 47 Christians were burnt in a church?

For want of space and time, we have decided to give instances from only nine states out of the nineteen Northern states, not to say anything about Southern states. And without exception, all the above nine states have had repeated cases of killings and Christian persecution since the 20th century right into the 21stcentury. We have a summary list of one hundred and sixteen and still counting of cases of aggression against Christians by Muslims in this country. We take it for granted that even the blind can see and the deaf can hear of the killings and maiming and burning of churches going on in Southern Kaduna and in Adamawa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states by Fulani jihadists militia. We also have it on record that there are some areas and communities in some Northern states like Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara and Jigawa where Christian witnessing is forbidden. Christian children are not given admission to schools because they bear Christian names. Where they are able to gain admission into higher institutions, they are denied high profile courses like Medicine, Architecture, Engineering, etc. What else is persecution on the basis of one’s faith?

He claimed that Boko Haram was not an instrument invented to fight Christians and Christianity in Nigeria. This was simply because they are not killing Christians alone, but Muslims inclusive. We now ask: who is the person deceiving the world here? When Boko Haram started out around 2008, it was a full blown Islamic movement with a clear fundamentalist ideology. Their Islamic zeal was so admired by the Muslim community that the then serving Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sherif appointed some of their leaders into his cabinet. They were accepted within the length and breadth of Northern Nigeria. Key northern leaders and politicians defended them fiercely. Some of them told President Goodluck Jonathan that any fight against Boko Haram was a fight against the north. Was Akintola in this country that time? So, at what time did Boko Haram cease to be a non-Islamic group fighting Muslims?

Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, in one of his video releases in 2012, gave the mission statement of the group and they have not deviated from it till date. He said, inter alia, “… This war is not political. It is religious. It is between Muslims and unbelievers (arna). It will stop when Islamic religion is the determinant in governance in Nigeria or, in the alternative, when all fighters are annihilated and no one is left to continue the fight. I warn all Muslims at this juncture that any Muslim who assists an unbeliever in this war should consider himself an unbeliever and should consider himself dead.”

It is a stated objective of the group to overrun Nigeria with Sharia. This mind set has been publicly expressed by prominent Muslim politicians from the North. When they started violent operation in Borno State, churches were their main targets. How else do we tell Prof. Akintola and his MURIC that Shekau said those of them Muslims who will not support their cause will also become targets of their offensive against the arna (infidels). What is so difficult to understand here? Furthermore, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) had asked the question long time ago and nobody, not even MURIC, had attempted an answer. Those who are pulling the wool over our eyes as to whether or not Boko Haram is fighting a religious war in Nigeria, should clarify what Shekau’s statement above implies.

As for the comparison between the Boko Haram insurgency and what is currently happening in Zamfara State, one can only say he has simply become confused. Prof. Akintola is on his own in the fire he is trying to start in this country. Real and genuine Muslims live in places like Zamfara and other core northern states. They have not offered the excuses he is giving for the conflict that erupted in that state recently. By now both Nigerians and the global community have known that it is purely political and economic. The information at our disposal is that illegal gold miners hired private armies to secure their illegal activities but as usual things spiraled out of their control and the dissatisfied militias turned on the state and their sponsors.

Again, the NCEF asked another germane question and for once let MURIC answer it. NCEF said, “… In 1989, Islam in Africa Organization (IAO) held a Conference in Abuja and amongst many other decisions, released a Communiqué tagged Abuja Declarations 1989 in which it affirmed that its purpose was “To eradicate in all its forms and ramifications all non-Muslim religions in member nations. Such religions shall include Christianity, Ahmadiyya and other tribal religions.” (In the original Declaration, the word Christianity was underlined.) Since Nigeria is considered a member nation, could what is going on be an implementation of this decision? Or, could we be corrected that the Conference never held in Abuja in November 1989 or such Communiqué was never released?  We are also unaware of any rebuttal of the same statement by Muslims leaders.”

They asked yet another question that needs to be brought to the attention of the man asking for evidence of Islamic persecution against the Church. ‘In a 154-page Research Report conducted by Arne Mulder in 2015, the researcher affirmed that over 13,000 Christian places of worship (churches) have been destroyed in Northern Nigeria as at December 2014. Under what condition do Muslim insurgents destroy churches if not Jihad? Do we need to define Jihad for Prof. Akintola?

It is clear Prof. Akintola has a personal agenda which includes a mortal hatred for Christians and Christianity in Nigeria. He has a vendetta he has nursed against the Christian faith over the years and he is looking for means to vent it. This is what we discovered. In an earlier unprompted publication on December, 22, 2019 he titled “Christianity has destroyed Nigeria, we want only Islam”, Prof. Akintola related a 1903 British colonial authority’s military action against Islamic uprising and reached the conclusion that they were defending Christian interests. He labored so hard, but without success, to blame Christianity for our colonial experience. How far can a man’s hatred against another religion go?

In the current situation, his abhorrence of Christianity is unequalled. Again, he went out of his way to blame Christianity for socio-cultural and global practices that have existed from time immemorial. Here are some of his words “Who took the Muslims” only day of worship (Friday) away from them and gave Saturday and Sunday to Christians? Who stopped the Muslims from using their 800 years old Shariah and forced the Christian common law on Nigerian Muslims throughout the country? Who outlawed marriages ministered in mosques but legalized marriages conducted in Churches? Who demonized Islamic banking but idolized Christian Western banking? Who gave the Christians 1st January but deprives Muslims of 1st Muharram? Who organized the lopsided 2014 national conference where Muslims who constitute majority of the population were given a paltry 189 delegates while Christians who are the minority had 303? Who locked the Nigerian Muslim girl-child out of school over an ordinary head-scarf called hijab? Who is forcing Muslim students in Christian private universities to attend Church on Sundays? Who demolished mosques in Ekiti and River’s States? Who is the real oppressor now?”

So, these are his grudges against Christianity, it is not about any attack on the Sultan.

As a fanatical jihadist, Prof. Akintola is fighting a personal war against Christianity in Nigeria. The issues he raised above are too petty for serious Muslims in Nigeria to multiply publications about for they know the truth of the matter. For example, how do you complain about a Muslim girl locked out of school only and forget that a young Christian girl is in captivity of Boko Haram for almost three years just because she refused to convert to Islam? Muslim students forced to attend church in Christian universities? This is the LIE of the century. Prof. Akintola is a chronic and habitual liar. Are such schools free of tuition? Are they forced to go to such schools?

The lies, deceptions, blunders and mischief he churned out in the publication are just too many to exhaust here. But we cannot end this rejoinder without correcting yet another grievous allegation against Church leaders in Nigeria. MURIC accused them of inciting their members. But truth is, the person out to incite the vulnerable and volatile young people up north are him. That was why we said he has a personal agenda. His publication is full of inflammatory language. He hopes that by now a riot should have broken out against the Church in Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna or Bauchi. But God has defeated his schemes. His antics are very clear even to his fellow Muslims who have chosen to ignore his scheming. If Prof. Akintola is so bitter with Christianity and he thinks Muslims in Nigeria are too slow in dealing with it, let him go and join ISIS, that is, if he is not one already or sponsored by them. His use of foul language against the Church cannot also go unnoticed.

He has, among other things said Christian leaders are liars, deceptive, trouble makers, corrupt, deceitful, dubious, fake and quixotic. These adjectives rather fully describe Prof. Akintola and his foot soldiers in MURIC. We will ignore the rest of his diatribe as that of a disillusioned and embittered personality trying to set a country on fire from within when he and his cohorts have failed to do so from without. If half of what he said about Christians and Christianity have been said about the Muslims and Islam, Nigeria should be burning now. We repeat, if Prof. Akintola has a grudge with any church official(s), let him face them directly and leave the hard pressed and persecuted Christians alone to continue bearing the burden of having their churches and communities ravaged and destroyed regularly. The Nigerian Church does not owe its existence to any latter day grant-begging NGO owned by an individual who cannot manage his religious emotions and sentimentality.

We conclude on this note.

Being full text of a press release signed by Raymond Manu Lamai of the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN), North East Zone



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