Rev Peter Akinola Speaks Out Against Cartoon Violence in Nigeria
Rev Peter Akinola, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, reacts to the continued violence towards Christians taking place in Nigeria in protest against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad released by a private newspaper in Denmark.
1) Having watched with sadness and dismay the recent development in some States in the Northern part of this Country where many Christian Churches and other property have been wantonly destroyed by some Islamic fundamentalists, the Christian Association of Nigeria is compelled to issue the following statements:
a) From all indications, it is very clear now that the sacrifices of the Christians in this country for peaceful co-existence with people of other faiths has been sadly misunderstood to be weakness
b) We have for a long time now watched helplessly the killing, maiming and destruction of Christians and their property by Muslim fanatics and fundamentalists at the slightest or no provocation at all. We are not unaware of the fact that these religious extremists have the full backup and support of some influential Muslims who are yet to appreciate the value of peaceful co-existence.
c) That an incident in far away Denmark which does not claim to be representing Christianity could elicit such an unfortunate reaction here in Nigeria, leading to the destruction of Christian Churches, is not only embarrassing, but also disturbing and unfortunate.
d) It is no longer a hidden fact that a long standing agenda to make this Nigeria an Islamic nation is being surreptitiously pursued. The willingness of Muslim Youth to descend with violence on the innocent Christians from time to time is from all intents and purposes a design to actualize their dream.
a) It is sad to note that all acts of hostility meted against Christians by Muslims in the past have remained unaddressed with nobody paying compensations or the culprits brought to justice.
b) We do appreciate the fact that at this stage of our national development, peace is absolutely necessary for realizing our dreams and aspirations. It is in view of this that Christians in Nigeria agreed to participate in the forthcoming National Census as sacrifice for the peace and progress of this nation, in spite of our protest over the non-inclusion of Religion and Ethnicity as necessary demographic data.
c) May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation. Nigeria belongs to all of us – Christians, Muslims and members of other faiths. No amount of intimidation can Change this time-honoured arrangement in this nation. C.A.N. may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue.
a) We now demand that further destruction of Christian Churches and property in this nation be permanently put to an end.
b) All levels of Government in this country should take adequate steps to protect the lives and property of Christians everywhere in this land as no further destructions will be tolerated or ignored.
c) The Federal Government and those States where Christian Churches have been destroyed are hereby urged to take urgent steps at rebuilding those structures and paying adequate compensation while assuring Christians of adequate protection in this country. These governments should now show in practical terms that Nigeria belongs to all of us by going beyond mere promises of rebuilding destroyed Churches and property as in the past to actual reconstruction, which will help the victims to quickly put this unfortunate incident behind them. A stitch in time saves nine.
Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola (CON, DD.)
President, Christian Association of Nigeria