The Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Kukah, has rebutted allegation that he called for a coup against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in his Christmas homily.
Kukah, who has come under fire from the federal government and its supporters, said his homily was his personal view “based on evidence.”
However, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), which backed the bishop, has asked the federal government to address concerns raised by him rather than intimidating and sponsoring attacks on Kukah.
Kukah, in his Christmas message, titled: ‘A nation in search of vindication,’ delivered last Friday, had accused Buhari of sacrificing the dreams of Nigerians to institutionalise northern hegemony.
He accused the president of nepotism, saying that there could have been a coup if a non-northern Muslim president had done a fraction of what Buhari has done.
The federal government fired back a day later, saying it is graceless and impious for a religious leader to use the period of Christmas, which is a season of peace, to stoke the embers of hatred, sectarian strife and national disunity.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement that was an allusion to Kukah’s criticism of the president, warned religious leaders that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences.
The homily generated more reactions on Monday as the president’s Special Assistant, Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) and Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) knocked Kukah while the Catholic Church in Nigeria, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) defended him.
However, against the backdrop of the furore generated by the homily, Kukah told reporters on Monday night that it was unfair for anyone to report that he called for a coup.
“The loss of lives in the last 10 years, even before the advent of this administration, calls for concern.
“The reactions are a reflection of every citizen that makes up Nigeria. It is sad that when you drop something in Nigeria, everybody goes back to their enclave and abandons the larger picture. I am someone who never takes offence to what people say about me.
“What I said was my opinion based on evidence and what has happened in Nigeria, and if you looked into the records, there is evidence that justifies that statement, and if anyone thinks I am wrong, they should come out with a superior position.
“It is unfair for a journalist or news medium to report that I called for a coup while expressing my personal view about Nigeria,” he said.
Kukah also dismissed the challenge to him by his critics to drop his cassock and join politics, saying that if he was to join politics, it would have been during the time of the late Aminu Kano and not now.”
“I have no plan and will never play partisan politics for any reason. Those who link my message to partisan politics are only playing to the gallery.
“Take, for instance, brilliant Nigerian youths making comments about Chelsea or Arsenal and have never been to England, does that make them players of such club sides?
“So, why will someone think because Bishop Kukah is speaking therefore he is a politician? People who make this argument are totally ignorant of elementary politics and ignorant of the role of a priest.
“The truth is that a lot of us have not seen a priest saying what I am saying. The truth of the matter is we are all in politics; but party politics for me, no. I am not a member of any political party and I cannot be. If it comes to voting, I do my right.
“Whatever I said can please or displease anyone, but that is my own opinion and doesn’t stop others from saying their own opinion. If you think my motive is wrong, say yours,” he added.