By Samuel Oyejola
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Hassan Kukah has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of reneging on the promises he made in 2015 to protect religious rights of all Nigerians, noting that extremism and intimidation were allowed to thrive.
According to the Catholic Bishop, President Buhari promised to lead a country that upholds the fundamental human rights of Nigerians but has done little to protect the rights of Christians to free worship in Nigeria.
Kukah stated this in Abuja, on Sunday while delivering homily during the mass to celebrate the Catholic World Mission Day at the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja Pro-Cathedral.
While accusing the Buhari-led government of allowing religious extremism and intimidation to thrive without check Kukah called on Christians to remain strong in the face of religious persecution in some parts of the country.
The Bishop challenged Christians in the country to prevail on the government to redeem promises made during the 2015 Presidential campaign. “Our responsibility is to insist that promises made must be respected. Government must take responsibilities,” he said.
In the buildup to the general elections in 2015, President Buhari had a meeting with the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) where he promised to ensure religious tolerance and respect every Nigerian’s right to religion.
“On February 11,2015, General Buhari, his Vice and some leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who are Catholics met with the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in Abuja and he told us that he would ensure freedom of worship”, Kukah recalled.
The Bishop while quoting some parts of the speech delivered by Buhari at the meeting said, “the role of government is to protect lives and properties of citizens and to respect and protect their constitutional rights. One critical freedom that every government must strive to protect is the liberty for citizens to exercise their respective faiths, Christians and Muslims or others, in a lawful manner without fear or hindrance and to prosecute those who use religion as an excuse to destroy homes, schools and places of worship. When governments fail in that duty, they must then assist in the rebuilding of structures including destroyed places of worship and giving full restitution for lost property.”
Time Nigeria recalled that President Buhari in his speech at the Episcopal meeting with representatives of the CBCN titled “One Nation bound in Freedom, Peace, Unity and Love”, assured the Catholic leaders of religious tolerance during his administration if elected.
Kukah who reminded the congregation of the killings in Southern Kaduna and some other parts of the North-Central states challenged the congregation to judge if the Buhari-led administration has lived up to its promise.