Leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria on Friday met with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed doors, renewing their call for the Federal Government to withdraw the country from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and other international religious bodies.
They also asked that Nigeria cancel all treaties it had signed with such religious organisations.
Speaking on behalf of the association, the CAN President, Revd. Supo Ayokunle, argued that Nigeria’s continued membership of the religious organisations violated the secular nature of the nation as enshrined in the constitution.
He said, “We call on the Executive and Legislative arms of government to withdraw Nigeria from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and from other international religious bodies and treaties Nigeria signed with such religious organisations because it violates the secular state of the nation as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria and further violates government’s non-partisanship in religious matters as enshrined in the same constitution.
“The sanctity of the constitution must be kept for Nigeria to survive as one nation.”
While commending the President on the anti-corruption war, Ayokunle urged Buhari to extend the fight against those surrounding him.
The clergyman said Buhari should not hesitate to hand over those accused of corruption among his men to relevant security agencies.
He said, “We want you to fight corruption without fear or favour, including those around you who may be like the ‘mixed multitude’ who went out of Egypt with the Israelites but were not Israelites. They caused harm along the way.
“Therefore, let there be no untouchable. Hand those close to you that may be corrupt over to law enforcement agents as you have done to others for proper prosecution.”
The CAN President also called on Buhari to address what he called lopsidedness in appointments made by the present administration for both ethnic and religious balance.
He cited an example of the defence apparatus which he claimed was skewed in favour of one tribe.
He also said the statistics of appointments recently released by the Presidency showed that there was lopsidedness because while some states had over 30 appointments, others didn’t have more than three.
Ayokunle also said CAN found it unacceptable for state governments to be owing workers’ salaries and allowances.
He called on the federal and state governments to work together to address the issue as soon as possible to stem the tide of crime and suicide that were increasing nationwide.
“We further urge your administration to address the breakdown of infrastructure in the nation such as road construction, provision of uninterrupted power supply and adequate funding of health facilities so as to stop the untimely death of our people and medical tourism abroad,” he added.
“The President did not address that particular call at the meeting. But he addressed some other demands made by the Christian leaders,” a source said.
When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, told our correspondent that the President addressed almost all the issues raised by the CAN delegation.
He, however, said some other issues were not addressed because of time constraint, adding that the President had directed the Federal Executive Council Secretariat to report to him on issues that were not addressed at the meeting.
“There was no time to address all issues raised. The secretariat is to report to him,” Shehu said.
Similarly, the Senate said it had yet to consider the demand by CAN.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, said, “You are just telling me now, I didn’t even know. Right now, we are on an oversight visit to Anambra State.
“It is not an issue that the Senate can act on because somebody made a statement and I cannot speak on it on behalf of my colleagues when the Senate has yet to consider the matter.”
Meanwhile, Buhari also met with Muslim leaders after doing so with the CAN later on Friday.
The Secretary-General, Jama’atul Nasirul Islam, Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, said members of the delegation demanded fairness, good governance and speedy appointments.
He said the group also prayed with the President and thanked God for his speedy recovery.