The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Monday called on the federal government to deploy all resources at its disposal to ensure the release of all Christians in Boko Haram captivity and Islamic State West African Province terrorists.
It also condemned the abduction of the Adamawa state CAN chairman, Rev. Lawan Andimi, by Boko Haram terrorists last week.
In a video footage released by his captors, Andimi pleaded with the federal government, the Adamawa state government and the leadership of CAN to come to his rescue.
While further echoing Andimi’s plea in a statement Monday, CAN President Samson Ayokunle claimed the latest abduction was evidence of Christian persecution in Nigeria.
In the statement signed by his media aide, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the CAN boss listed the names of Christians abducted by the insurgents in the past months.
“The Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria in Michika, Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, was abducted by Boko Haram terrorists last week when they invaded the predominantly Christian community.
“As if that was not enough, there was a bandit attack on Kasaya village, another Christian community in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Monday, about 6:30 am where they abducted 41 people, including Rev. Joshua Samaila. Up till now, nobody knows what has become of them,” Ayokunle further said.
The CAN leader also said the government had not rescued Mr Bitrus Bwala, a principal lecturer at the College of Education Gashua, in Yobe state and 10 other Christians abducted by Boko Haram terrorists on November 27, 2019.
“These are evidence of Christian persecutions in the country and when we cried out in support of the position of the United States government, they said it is not true.”
“If criminals are invading Christian communities, killing and abducting unchallenged, what do we call it if it is not persecution? How many terrorists, Fulani herdsmen killers and bandits are in the custody of the security agencies? How many of them have been arraigned in court?,” the cleric asked.
The Christian body called on the United Nations, the US and the United Kingdom to assist the government in securing lives and property “before it is too late.”
But in a reaction, national coordinator, Muslim Media Watch Group, Mr. Ibrahim Abdulllahi, cautioned CAN against stoking the fire of religious violence.
He said it would be unfair for the Christian body to link the abduction of adherents of the Christian faith to alleged persecution.
In a telephone interview with Blueprint Monday, Abdullahi said: “One is shocked to hear a frightening religious dimension to what we, as citizens, have been suffering in the hands of the insurgents. Are the Muslims in any way spared of this atrocity? Let’s all have a rethink and strategise on how to collectively deal with this national malady called insurgency.
“If cataloguing the number of Christians and Muslims that had suffered one fate or the other in the hands of these hoodlums is what take delight in, then we shall be giving the Boko Haram elements the needed oxygen to breath.
“Let me reiterate for the umpteenth time, that, like any other true Muslim organisations have maintained, we in the Muslim Media Watch Group do not believe that, by their acts, these hoodlums are Muslims in the first place because they do not represent Islam in whatever form.
“I think CAN must not miss the point. These charlatans are not concerned about whether you are Muslims or Christians. All that concerns them is wreaking havoc in any home via their captives. So, what am I saying in essence? The comments from CAN president is unfair and unwarranted, especially coming at a time President Muhammadu Buhari consistently calls on all citizens of this country not to allow the insurgents divide us.”