The attention of the Taraba State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN has been drawn to several video clips of Islamic Clerics from outside the shores of Taraba State, threatening religious war and the establishment of a sharia Islamic government in Taraba over the recent APC governorship primaries in the state in which a Christian, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha was announced the flag bearer.

Ordinarily, CAN could have overlooked this but because it is coming from religious leaders and preachers, people that are expected to be ambassadors and preachers of peace, it has become necessary that we respond to those careless and irresponsible utterances to keep the records straight and to also draw the attention of security agencies to do the needful.

CAN is not a participant in partisan politics, but has observed with dismay the threats on Christians in Taraba State and an attempt to instigate religious unrest from some Islamic Clerics from across Nigeria. One of such video clips by Sheikh Ibrahim Aliyu Kaduna, and several others is of note.

CAN in Taraba state, and indeed well meaning Nigerians are in great shock that purely political party affairs and activities could be given a religious coloration and draw such hateful utterances capable of destabilizing the entire nation.

The messages in the video clips give the impressions that APC belongs to the Muslims, a claim which is not only false, but a devilish attempt to polarize the country.

The fact that all political parties in Nigeria harbor Christians and Muslims is not in doubt.

Most disturbing is the attempt at dishing out the falsehood about the religious demographic composition of Taraba State. How did they come to the conclusion that Taraba is 65% Muslim and 35% Christians? What is the source of their statistics? Is this not an outright attempt to instigate hate and violence in the State? We could have loved to go down the memory lane but because it is coming from outsiders, we count it as ignorance. Taraba State since inception has been governed by a Christian while the Muslims have always enjoyed the slot of Deputy Governor since 1999. One would have expected that the religious bigots dishing out those inciting videos should have also condemned Niger and Kaduna States for discontinuing the policy of making Christians Deputy Governor. Why the double standards if they truly have the interest of the peace and unity of Nigeria at heart? Why the misinformation and arrogant repugnant reference to Christians by insulting words such as “masu bauta wa gunki” and “Arne”?

CAN views all those videos as calculated plots to set the state ablaze by outside forces who are not happy with the peace Taraba State is enjoying.

Taraba state has a long-standing history of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence amongst Christians and Muslims even in politics. CAN cannot accept anyone by whatever disguise who is out to threaten and instigate crisis in the state, just as they have successfully done in some other states that they have destroyed and ruined.

The messages of these clerics stand condemnable by all reasonable individuals. Government has the responsibility to arrest these clerics, especially Sheikh Ibrahim Aliyu Kaduna, and several others, who has openly threatened to create crisis in Taraba State. Anything short of this will be viewed by Christians in Taraba State, and indeed Nigeria as a whole, as government approval of these subversive propaganda. Our tolerance has been the reason we are still exempted from the religious carnage ongoing in some states. We urge the APC to settle their party issues without bringing religion into it.

Politics is not religion. It’s a game of numbers. People should desist from using religion to win presumed public sympathy.

CAN Taraba State reiterates our challenge to the intelligence agencies and the Federal government to expedite action and apprehend and prosecute the individuals on the videos before they throw Taraba state and indeed Nigeria into avoidable bloodshed.

Clergies ought to preach peace, love and tolerance, not hateful sermons and promotion of religious politics.

Leadership is from God. Politics is a game of numbers.

It is uncharitable and unacceptable to threaten the peace of a State with violence under the misleading impression that your religious faithfuls are not given the opportunity to rule the State.

In conclusion, we wish to state clearly that henceforth, we will hold authors of those videos making rounds responsible for any harm on Senator Emmanuel Bwacha and other Christian contesting in various political parties.

Rev Dr Isaiah Magaji Jirapye
Chairman, CAN, Taraba State Chapter.

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