On Wednesday, the Presidency reacted to the alleged ultimatum of a Sokoto-based group by the name of “Muslim Solidarity Forum”, asking the bishop of the diocese of Sokoto, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah to offer an unreserved apology to the entire Ummah. Muslim for her recent “malicious comments” against Islam, or quietly and quickly leaving the state.
The Presidency said that this ultimatum was wrong because it was not in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The presidency’s reaction was contained in a statement issued in Abuja by the president’s senior special assistant for media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, with the title: “Father Kukah must be able to practice his faith and politics.”
The statement read: “According to our Constitution, all citizens have the right, among others, to freedom of expression and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without inhibitions. Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity.
“The right of coexistence of all religions is enshrined in the Constitution of this country. The duty of the government, moreover, this democratic government, is to ensure that the Constitution is respected. But all must respect the rights and sensibilities of their Nigerian compatriots.
“Father Kukah has greatly offended many with his controversial comments against the government and the person of the president, and some even accuse him of expressing anti-Islamic rhetoric.
“In matters like these, responsible leadership in any society must exercise restraint. The sudden reactions will not only cause the erosion of lasting relationships, but also the evisceration of peaceful communities such as Sokoto, the headquarters of the Muslim community as a beacon of pluralism and tolerance.
“The Sultanate has historically had good relations with followers of all religions. That is why Father Kukah was received upon his arrival in Sokoto with friendship and tolerance.
“Under our laws, groups or factions should not issue resignation notices, nor should they unilaterally sanction perceived violations. Where they occur, it is the courts of law that must rule. Unilateral action is not the way to go. “
He further said: “Groups such as the Muslim Solidarity Forum should be considered as sharing and defending the multi-religious principles of the country. And people like Father Kukah must respect the feelings of their Nigerian colleagues in their public and private statements. “