The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Supo Ayokunle, has tackled those criticising the recent listing of Nigeria among countries supporting religious persecution by the US.
Speaking during an interview with The Punch, Ayodele stated those denying Christians are being persecuted in Nigeria were being economical with the truth.
He stated the fact that many are people being killed in Christian dominated areas in the country was indicative of growing threats to adherents of Christianity.
He said: “Insecurity has led to the death of many people in Christian dominated areas like Benue and Taraba states, whose populations are made up of more than 90 per cent Christians. It is the same in Southern Kaduna with a population of more than 80 per cent Christians; Plateau State with a population of more than 90 per cent Christians and northern part of Adamawa – Mubi and Michiga – which are predominantly Christian dominated.
“We are in Baptist Church and they are so many there. Up till Friday, January 3, 2020, they were still battling for the soul of Michiga because insurgents wanted to take over the place. For somebody who is in this country, for whatever reason, to be saying that categorising Nigeria as a place where Christians were severely persecuted was wrong, I think that person was being economical with the truth.”
Citing the continued detention of Leah Sharibu by Boko Haram for failing to renege her faith, the CAN President called on the federal government to secure the release of the abducted school girl and other Christians in captivity to truly show it is not supporting persecution of Christians.
“We have spoken again and again that the moral burden is on the government to get Leah Sharibu, in particular, released because when they were negotiating for the release of the Dapchi girls, the only reason why Leah Sharibu was left behind was because she was a Christian and had refused to renounce her faith,” he said.
“She refused to abandon her faith and because of that, the terrorists said they were not going to release her and the government allowed it to be. That was not fair. The moral burden is on the government, if we would not see them as part of those persecuting Christians, to get Leah Sharibu and all other people who are held captive out of captivity, whether they are Christians or Muslims.”
He went to reiterate CAN’s commitment to continue speaking for the oppressed regardless of religious configuration, while also voicing concerns on the security situation in the country.
“By the grace of God, CAN has never reneged on its duty to speak for the oppressed. When we are talking about persecution of Christians and insecurity, insecurity does not know the religion you belong to. When armed robbers attack, they can kill anyone,” Ayokunle added.