The new President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, has urged the government at all levels in Nigeria to safeguard the rights of Nigerians and avoid plunging the nation into a state of lawlessness.
Ayokunle, who said this at in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja after his election, argued that when a government violated the constitution, such government had given room for people to break the law.
The cleric, who explained that he had a premonition that he would lead Christians in Nigeria, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to "maintain balance and keep close to constitution" irrespective of his religious affiliation to avoid opening the door for lawlessness in the society.
The CAN president-elect stated, "I want to advise the present government to maintain balance and keep close to constitution irrespective of the religious belief of those in government. The government should respect the constitution of Nigeria because if the government breaks the constitution of Nigeria on religion alone, they have already opened the door for lawlessness in the society."
Ayokunle, the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, called on Islamic leaders to talk to their followers who, he said, were not giving them honour by what they were doing.
He added, "They (children) are bringing disgrace to the religion of Islam; we have existed together for many years without this type of development, so it is the duty of the Islamic leaders in Nigeria to look for those who are radicalising their children and turning them into murderers and be able to apprehend them and hand them over to the government or speak to them to teach what is right.
"To say that they are not Muslims is so embarrassing. So, who are they? Are they Christians? Are they pagans? If they are pagans, why do they owe allegiance to the Quran? Do pagans hold Quran or owe allegiance to it?"
Ayokunle criticised Nigeria's membership of the Organisation of Islamic Countries.
According to him, Islamic leaders should mentor their children properly and ascertain who is "radicalising their children and turning them into murderers" and be able to teach what is right to reduce religious intolerance.
He added, "Whenever the government is not upholding the sanctity of the constitution in terms of the secularity of our existence, the church must speak out without fear of favour. "For example, we have been talking of OIC. Does the government of Nigeria have the right to take the country to OIC? Is it in keeping with the spirit of the constitution? No and when you continue to push people, the limit is to push them to the wall.
"So the government of Nigeria should not take things for granted and think that Christians are fools and they will be seen to be promoting one religion above the other or favour one religion to the detriment of the other.
"Whenever we see that, we are going to tell them to be very careful and we are going to speak out. Who you are going to worship is a fundamental right of every individual and government is there to protect that, not to force one religion on the other."
According to Ayokunle, the recent attack on a Christian for allegedly eating during fasting in Kaduna was the height of religious intolerance and bestiality.
He said, "Somebody was going to eat in the afternoon; he was not a Muslim. What right do you have to go and stab that person in a law-abiding society? When you are not from the bush, you are not a beast, how can you just behave like that? What is Nigeria becoming in the name of religion?
"So these are the things we must all rise to condemn. Since nobody has monopoly to guns and violence, we should not continue to provoke people.
"There is a theory in Psychology that instigation to aggression depends on the degree of frustration. If you continue to frustrate a people they may end up becoming aggressive; we don't want that state."