By Nelson Ushafa
The presidency has described as unconstitutional, the ultimatum issued on the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Kukah, saying the man of God must be allowed to ‘practice his faith and Politics.’
This was contained in a statement released on Wednesday, by the Senior Special Assistant to President Mohammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Kukah had, in his 2020 Christmas message, titled, ‘A nation in search of vindication’, lamented that nepotism characterise the present administration.
A group known as ”Muslim Solidarity Forum” had during a press Conference in Sokoto State, asked Bishop Mathew Kukah, to tender an unreserved apology to the entire Muslim Ummah for what they described as “malicious comments” against Islam.
While reacting to the ultimatum, the Presidency said, although Kukah had greatly offended many with his 2020 Christmas message by using anti-Islamic rhetoric in his attack on the President Buhari led administration, the Bishop has the right to free speech and is equally entitled to reside in any part of the country.
“Under our Constitution, every citizen has the right to, among others, freedom of speech and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without any inhibitions. Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity. The right for all religions to co-exist is enshrined in this country’s Constitution. The duty of the government, more so, this democratic government, is to ensure that the Constitution is respected. But all must respect the rights and sensitivities of their fellow Nigerians.
“Father Kukah has greatly offended many with his controversial remarks against the government and the person of the President, with some even accusing him of voicing anti-Islamic rhetoric.”
While also praising Sokoto State as been the beacon of pluralism and tolerance, the statement cautioned leaders to be wary of their utterances, as such is capable of causing a break in existing relationships.
“Groups such as the Muslim Solidarity Forum must be seen to share and uphold the country’s multi-religious principles. And individuals like Father Kukah must respect the feelings of his fellow Nigerians in his private and public utterances.”
The statement however, warned the Muslim Solidarity Forum to stop issuing quit notices on indigenes of the country, adding that where perceived breaches occur, the decision to adjudicate lies with the courts of law.
“Under our laws, groups or factions must not give quit notices, neither should they unilaterally sanction any perceived breaches. Where they occur, it is the courts of law that should adjudicate. Unilateral action is not the way to go,” it stated.