CAN Threatens to dump NIREC

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has threatened to pull out of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, NIREC.

The body, NIREC, was established by government to mediate on the incessant ethno-religious crises in the country. The Council, a voluntary one, has 50 members, shared equally between the two dominant religions in the country.

CAN threatened the pull out after an emergency meeting by some Christian leaders who were protesting what they called the shabby and unequal treatment meted to CAN leadership by the co-chair of the Council, Sultan Abubakar Sa’ad. They also complained that the Sultan has rendered NIREC docile since 2013 even in the face of the rising insurgency in the country.

The Christian leaders also accused the leadership of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, of intentionally avoiding having meetings with its Christian counterparts because they found it difficult to stand the guts of the CAN president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.

According to a reliable source at the CAN Secretariat in Abuja, who confided in journalists yesterday, the 25 Christian members are contemplating pulling out of NIREC because of the way the co-chair of the council has been treating CAN leadership with disrespect.

According to the source, matters came to a point of no return when the Sultan unilaterally canceled a meeting that was scheduled for February 9th in Abuja after Christian members of the body, including an 80 year member had arrived Abuja.

“Christian leaders from different parts of the country had flown into Abuja where we were supposed to meet only to hear that the meeting has been cancelled,” the source said. He added: “When some of us went to buy food to eat, we saw Prof. Oloyede furious, saying why should we postpone a meeting behind him? When Oloyede got to know that it was the Sultan of Sokoto who postponed the meeting, he did not say a word.”

According to the source, the last meeting of the council was held in Uyo in 2013 while the next venue was expected to be in Gombe, which never held.

“Some of our friends who were to fly to Gombe for a scheduled meeting had bought their tickets, only for us to get another short notice that the meeting had been postponed. Reason being that the Gombe State governor had traveled and it should be rescheduled because the man wants to be there.

“Another time they said we were going to meet, the Sultan of Sokoto, who is the co-chair, told the CAN president that he didn’t want to meet in Gombe because of the security challenges. So the CAN president said anywhere you want us to meet, I’m ready. So they agreed to meet in Abuja. A date was given. As we were warming up for it, it was cancelled for no just reason. So from that time till today, we have not met,” the source claimed.

Speaking along the same line, another source confided in journalists that it is the same people that are accusing CAN of stalling NIREC meetings that do not want meetings to hold.

“I was with Pastor Oritsejafor one day when he called the Sultan and he didn’t pick, so he sent him a text message to remind him of the need for NIREC to meet. As I speak to you, he has not replied that text message but suddenly it was announced that we were going to meet on February 9, 2015 and NIREC members should arrive Abuja a day before.

“The invitation stated that there would be a meeting with the president on the morning before the Council would meet and continue till night as we normally do. And that the departure was going to be on Tuesday. Eminent Christian leaders from this country flew into Abuja that evening only to hear that the meeting has been cancelled,” the source narrated?

Sounding angry, the source said:“We should pull out of it because we can no longer tolerate this shabby treatment in an organization where 25 Christians and 25 Muslims are supposed to rub mind to find a lasting solution to religious intolerance. People who cannot tolerate the guts of Pastor Oritsejafor are afraid to convene NIREC meetings.”