The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, yesterday berated Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, for accusing Southern Kaduna Christian clerics of using the killings of its natives by armed herdsmen to receive financial support from churches overseas.
Kukah challenged El-Rufai at the funeral mass of the late Reverend Joseph Danlami Bagobiri, who was the Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan and attended by former President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by former Chairman, Nigeria Christians Pilgrims Board, Kennedy Opara and Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF). Kukah strongly condemned Governor El-Rufai over his handling of the Southern Kaduna crisis.
“Today is a special day for Southern Kaduna people and the people of Kaduna State. It is a day of reckoning. It is as much a day of sowing as a day of reaping.“It is day of promise and a day of hope. The mix of gathering suggest very clearly that this is not an ordinary funeral ceremony,” he said during his exhortation.
“Certain burials made certain demands. They set the records straight. They create urgency now,” he added, warning that, “no one should expect that the burial of someone like Bagobiri should be a simple ceremony of burying a Bishop.”
Besides, Kukah decried the violence that had engulfed Southern Kaduna since 1992, pointing out that Southern Kaduna had experiences of ‘judicial terrorism.’
He praised the late Bishop Bagobiri for his “undiplomatic’ way of talking about the violence and injustice that had engulfed Southern Kaduna, especially under the present dispensation, while taking a swipe at Governor El-Rufai. He said: “In his television programme during the crisis, the governor of Kaduna State, levelled two accusations against religious leaders whom he accused of selling a narrative of what he described as ‘a policy of exclusion.’
Citing the governor, Kukah said: “This religious leaders wanted only a people of a particular indigenous or religious group to live in parts of Southern Kaduna. “Secondly, he said some Church leader had collected money from missionaries abroad to bury their dead and to rebuild thousands of churches that had been destroyed.
“I am not sure which religious leaders he was talking about, but at least the two most prominent religious leaders in Southern Kaduna would be Bagobiri and the Emir of Jemaa. As I have said, my encounter and experience with both the Emir Jemaa and Bishop Bagobiri led me to a totally different conclusion.
“The Emir of Jemaa called me a day after Bagobiri died. I was shocked by the fact that rather than console me, he spoke of the loss of our dear brother, a good man, father and so on. It was a common love for us.”
President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Musa Kaptain Solomon, who spoke on behalf of the Southern Kaduna people said: “When our leaders were playing the ostrich, trying to be politically correct, Bagobiri became the lone voice that stood with his people.
“He was brave and courageous and spoke truth to power on not only for Southern Kaduna, but the oppressed people of Nigeria.”
At least 50 Catholic Bishops were in attendance or represented. Both the President and the Secretary General of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Prof. Supo Oyekunle and Dr. Musa Asake where in attendance.
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