Outrage in Nigeria’s kogi state after chief of staff to Governor Yahaya Bello disparaged Christians

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There is rage in Kogi, a state in the central region (Middle-Belt) of Nigeria, popularly called the confluence state because of the confluence of River Niger and River Benue at its capital, Lokoja.

The Christian Rights Agenda (CRA) released a statement condemning, in strongest terms, an insult on the Christian faith by Mr. Abdulkareem Jamiu Asuku, the Chief of Staff to Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello. 

Mr. Asuku who, on Radio Kogi 93.5 FM on Monday, while discussing a lingering quarrel among Muslims in Ebiraland over which sect produces the Chief Imam of a mosque in Okene, veered off the context of the discussion by alluding to denominations in Christianity. 

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He compared the dichotomy among the Islamic sects to Christian denominations, and disparaging Christians for not being true followers of Jesus Christ. 

In a statement signed by its Acting Director of Publicity, Tom Chiahemen, CRA argued that Mr. Asuku’s comments were not only an insult on Christianity, but they also epitomized the hatred and bigotry against Christians in the government of Governor Yahaya Bello. 

The CRA is a Christian organization set up to advocate the respect for the rights of Christians in line with the principles of freedom of religion, thoughts and beliefs, enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

The statement said, “Kogi governor’s Chief of Staff’s comments steams of discrimination, bigotry, hatred and the kind of bias that should not be in the heart of a government official. The Bible says, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). 

Apparently, this Chief of Staff spoke from the prevalent disposition of the government at Lugard House in Lokoja, and that is unfortunate. A government and those who run it should be all-embracing. Governor Yahaya Bello is not a governor of Muslims, except he wants to be seen to be so. But if his CoS is showing open disdain for the Christian faith, it means the administration is doomed.” 

The CRA added that “Christian denominations in Nigeria have not carried out cold-blooded murders; massacre of innocent persons in villages and cities; destruction of properties; raping of women, men and children; hatred, and outright genocide that is the stock-in-trade of some religious groups in Nigeria. An evidence of this is the fact that Ebiraland is the hotbed of senseless sectarian and ethnic killings in Kogi State in spite of the fact that the majority of the people in that part of the state belongs to one religion. Christianity does not advocate mass murder, hatred, and all the evils that manifest in Ebiraland.” The Christian organization added that “Christian denominations have, instead, fostered freedom, peace, trust, respect for each other, and even led to development. In Nigeria, the Redeemed Christian Church of God is not at war with Deeper Life Christian Ministry; neither is the Baptist Church at war with Methodist Church. Churches are not daggers-drawn at each other, unlike what happens in Okene over the position of Imam of the mosque.” 

The group called on Kogi State governor to change his bias towards Christians in Kogi State, and counsel his staff against disparaging the Christian faith in the name of settling a dispute among Islamic sects.

The CRA  maintained  that contrary to Asuku’s disparaging insinuation,  the various Christian denominations in Nigeria,  as “true followers  of Jesus Christ,”  do not, and have always condemned,  cold-blooded murders; massacre of innocent persons in villages and cities; destruction of properties; raping of women, men and children; hatred, and outright genocide being reported in some parts of Nigeria. 

An evidence of this is the view of many Nigerians that Ebiraland is the hotbed of senseless sectarian and ethnic killings in Kogi State in spite of the fact that the majority of the people in that part of the state belongs to one religion.

The CRA is of the candid opinion that instead of dissipating his energy disparaging Christianity, Governor Bello’s Chief of Staff, who ought to have been worried about this public perception of Ebiraland, should have been finding ways of how to change the narrative.

The Christian organization added that “Christian denominations have, instead, fostered freedom, peace, trust, respect for each other, and even led to development. In Nigeria, the Redeemed Christian Church of God is not at war with Deeper Life Christian Ministry; neither is the Baptist Church at war with Methodist Church. Churches are not daggers-drawn at each other, unlike what happens in Okene over the position of Imam of the mosque.” 

The group called on Kogi State governor to change his bias towards Christians in Kogi State, and counsel his staff against disparaging the Christian faith in the name of settling a dispute among Islamic sects.

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