The Presidency has reacted to the ultimatum given to the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev Matthew Hassan Kukah by the Muslim Solidarity Forum.
The forum comprising of Muslim clerics and scholars, in a statement released on Tuesday January 12, said that Kukah must tender an unreserved apology to the entire Muslim Ummah over his 2020 Christmas day message, or quietly and quickly leave Sokoto state.
Reacting to the group’s statement, the Presidency in a statement released by the Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said under the Nigerian Constitution, every citizen has the right to, among others, freedom of speech and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without any inhibitions.
Garba stated that the right for all religions to co-exist is enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution and must be respected.
He stated that even though Kukah has greatly offended many with his controversial remarks about President Buhari, issuing ultimatums to him is not the way to express their displeasure. He said under the constitution, anyone with any grievance should seek redress in the court of law and not by way of taken laws into their hands.
His statement reads in part
Father Kukah has greatly offended many with his controversial remarks against the government and the person of the President, with some even accusing him of voicing anti-Islamic rhetoric.
On matters such as these, responsible leadership in any society must exercise restraint. Knee-jerk reactions will not only cause the fraying of enduring relationships, but also the evisceration of peaceful communities such as Sokoto, the headquarters of the Muslim community as beacon of pluralism and tolerance. The Sultanate has historically had good relations with followers of all faiths. That is why Father Kukah was received on his arrival in Sokoto with friendship and tolerance.
Under our laws, groups or factions must not give quit notices, neither should they unilaterally sanction any perceived breaches. Where they occur, it is the courts of law that should adjudicate. Unilateral action is not the way to go.
Groups such as the Muslim Solidarity Forum must be seen to share and uphold the country’s multi-religious principles. And individuals like Father Kukah must respect the feelings of his fellow Nigerians in his private and public utterances.”
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