The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted angrily to the President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion that 90 per cent of Boko Haram victims were Muslims.
CAN said the Buhari was playing international politics with lives of its citizens.
CAN’s Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Kwamkur Samuel, in an interview on Tuesday said, “The Christian Association of Nigeria notes with pains President Buhari’s unfounded, false, provocative and misleading assertion that 90% of Boko Haram victims are Muslims.
“On reading this misleading and provocative statement coming from the number one citizen of the country, one will hardly doubt that the President understands the difference between the real victims and perpetrators of the heinous crime against the Church and humanity.
“No wonder the Boko Haram is getting more attention from the FG in the name of rehabilitation and de-radicalization than the victims who lost their lives, loved ones and living in the internally displaced persons’ camps.”
He said it was disappointing to hear the President justify which of the two religions was suffering more from attacks of the terrorists.
Samuel asked, “Are we into any competition with the number of the victims? Is there any life that should not be precious to Mr. President?
However, Buhari has said that it was not true that Boko Haram insurgency had claimed the lives of more Christians than Muslims.
He argued that the contrary was the case, insisting that “90 per cent” of deaths from attacks by the terrorists were Muslims.
Buhari gave his position in an op-ed published in Speaking Out, a guest opinion column for Christianity Today, a United States-based magazine.
The op-ed was a tribute to the Michika Local Government Area Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Adamawa State, the late Pastor LawanAndimi.
The cleric was executed by Boko Haram. The op-ed was titled, “Buhari: Pastor Andimi’s faith should inspire all Nigerians.”
Buhari in the op-ed said it was not true that Christians were the primary targets of Boko Haram insurgents.
The President of CAN, Reverend SupoAyokunle, had in Ibadan on Sunday, urged Buhari to rise up to his responsibility of protecting lives and property in the country.
Citing the killing of Andim and a student of the University of Maiduguri, Ropvil Dalyep, he said there was no doubt that the Boko Haram insurgents were targeting Christians.
Reacting to the notion that Boko Haram targeted only Christians, Buhari disagreed, urging Nigerians to see the insurgents as common enemies they must team up to fight collectively.
He also wrote that since he assumed office in 2015, his regime had not relented in fighting the insurgents, adding that to a large degree, the insurgents had been weakened by the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Buhari wrote, “Boko Haram are no longer one, unified threat, but fractured into several rivals. These splinters are themselves degraded: reduced to criminal acts which—nonetheless no less cruel—target smaller and smaller numbers of the innocent. We owe thanks to the Nigerian defence forces, bolstered by our partnership with the British, American military and other countries that we are winning this struggle in the field.”
He stated that the weakened Boko Haram groups had resorted to pitting Christians against Muslims.
The President urged both Christian and Muslim leaders to stop blaming other religions for attacks and killings by the insurgents.
“Sadly, there is a tiny, if vocal, minority of religious leaders—both Muslim and Christian—who appear more than prepared to take their bait and blame the opposite religious side. The terrorists today attempt to build invisible walls between us. They have failed in their territorial ambitions, so now instead they seek to divide our state of mind, by prying us from one from another – to set one religion seemingly implacably against the other.” He admitted