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Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has dismissed claim by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III that Christians were not under any form of persecution in the country.

According to CAN, the monarch was insincere in denying the subtle Islamisation agenda and nepotism.

The Sultan had said he wes shocked by the claim of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that Christians were being persecuted in the country.

CAN had backed the inclusion of Nigeria by the US in the list of nations that tolerate religious persecution.

But speaking at the closing ceremony of 77th annual Islamic vacation course (IVC) organised by the Muslim Society of Nigeria (MSSN) at Bayero University, Kano, Abubakar said CAN’s claim is  “false and partial.”

He said the criminal activities perpetrated by armed “Fulani herdsmen” were not triggered by religion, “because not all Fulanis are Muslims.”

He said there were Christian Fulanis just as there were Muslims ones.

Replying on Thursday, Vice Chairman of CAN (Northern Region), Rev. John Hayab, said it was unfortunate that the monarch was not ready to face the reality on ground.

He said evidence which pointed to religious persecution as the basis for the imbalance of political and economic power in the country abound, especially in the north.

Hayab also accused the revered Muslim leader of treating the multiple petitions on religious persecution tabled before the revered Muslim leader at meetings of the Nigerian Interreligious Council, NIREC with indifference.

He said: “With all due respect, we believe the Muslim leader is living in denial on the issue of persecution of Christians in this country. “We have presented several petitions before the Sultan of Sokoto on religious persecution but what has he done? “We brought to his notice in NIREC; the issue of ban on the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge in secondary schools in the north. What did he do?

“We also presented before him cases where Christians who want to buy land in some northern communities are compelled to sign documents stating that they would not use the property for church activities or for hotel services. What has he done about it. Even the very act of comparing church activities with hotel services is not just a form of persecution but an insult aimed at Christians.

“Is it the issue of cabinet appointments in state executive councils? There are Christians and Muslims among the Fulanis, the Hausas and other minority tribes in the North. But, how many governors can boast of cabinets that are fair and balanced in terms of religious representation? Is the Sultan not aware of the nepotism?

“Similar religious nepotism is also witnessed in the offer of state jobs, admissions into tertiary institutions, and awards of contracts. Does the Sultan of Sokoto not consider these happenings as religious persecution?

“Was he not aware that Leah Sharibu’s was not negotiated by the Federal Government on account of her refusal to renounce her Christian faith? Whereas, the same government activated all its diplomatic resources to ensure the freedom of the daughter of a prominent Muslim faithful accused of drug peddling in Saudi Arabia.”

Hayab regretted that the strides made to downplay religious bias and unite all northerners by the late Sardauna and Premier of the North, Sir Ahmadu Bello, had not been sustained by leaders who came after him. He called on the Sultan of Sokoto and other prominent religious leaders to speak the truth on issues that affect the unity of the country at all times, saying Nigeria would only get better when they do so. (Daily Sun)