The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says those asking Matthew Kukah to leave Sokoto are constituting a global threat against Christianity.
Kukah, bishop of Sokoto Catholic diocese, had sparked widespread criticism over his Christmas message.
The cleric had accused President Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism, saying there could have been a coup if a non-northern Muslim president did a fraction of what Buhari has done.
Reacting, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) described Kukah’s comments as a “treasonable felony against the Nigerian state”.
On Wednesday, the Muslim Solidarity Forum asked Kukah to tender an apology to the Muslim faithful or vacate the state over his “malicious comments” against Muslims.
In a statement on Thursday, Joseph Daramola, general-secretary of the association, said threats against Kukah are unconstitutional.
CAN said there is nothing wrong in Kukah’s message to the nation, wondering if those threatening the cleric “are above the law or if they are sacred cows in the country”.
“We have been watching the unfolding scenario since Bishop Kukah spoke his mind on the State of the Nation in his Christmas homily and how some groups of people have been threatening him with ﬁre and brimstone while all relevant security agencies are pretending as if nothing unusual is happening,” the statement reads.
“We have studied the whole Christmas message of Dr Kukah and we are yet to see any incitement against Islam or non- Christians. We see nothing wrong in his message to the nation that has been under the siege of terrorists, herdsmen killers, bandits and kidnappers as if there was no government in place. We see nothing wrong in telling a government whose lopsided appointments are against Christians the whole truth.
“If criticism against a Muslim President today, is an incitement to violence against Islam, it then means those who were criticising the duo of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan when they were in power were actually attacking Christianity.
“When has it become an offence to speak the truth to power? When has it become a crime to criticise a government in the country?
“When did the Police and the Directorate of the State Security Services lose their power to miscreants and lawless people who are making boasts of their lawlessness without a challenge? We wonder if those Muslim groups who are threatening to deal with Kukah got equal response from their Christian counterparts, are we not setting up the country on ﬁre?”
CAN said Kukah was posted to Sokoto to serve, saying it is wrong to threaten him.
The association called on President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies to protect the cleric and prevent any harm against him.
“Bishop Kukah was posted to serve in Sokoto by the Papacy and threatening him to leave is a global threat to Christianity. In this same country, we have a Catholic Priest whose name is synonymous with President Muhammadu Buhari yet the Catholic Church has not deemed it ﬁt to sanction him because Freedom of Speech and Association is not only a constitutional matter but godly,” the statement read.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari and all the security agencies to ensure that no harm befalls the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah. As far as the Christian Association of Nigeria is concerned, what he said in his Christmas Homily was still within the ambience of the law.”