The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province has berated the Presidency for verbally attacking the bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev Fr. Matthew Kukah.
Recall that in an address to a United States congress committee, Kukah had accused President Muhammadu Buhari of showing preference to Muslims and that has worsened the level of rivalry between them and Christians.
Reacting to Kukah’s comment, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, slammed Kukah for making a false accusation, accusing him of trying to sow discord and strife among Nigerians/
But in a communique after a meeting on Wednesday, the bishops from Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti, and Osogbo dioceses, expressed their support for Kukah’s statement.
The communique reads: “Bishop Kukah, in his patriotic and frank presentation, called attention to some verifiable data and statistics about the Nigerian situation on that privileged international platform. He spoke for authentic Christians and Muslims who are under persecution. No doubt, he intended to solicit the support of that forum which many Nigerians believe holds the promise of some assistance and relief from our current national crises.
“The Federal Government however has characteristically gone up in arms against the person of Bishop Kukah and his purpose. It is commonly said that when there is a problem in a democracy, more democracy is needed to solve it. Sadly enough, our current federal government does not seem to subscribe to this.
“For the sake of our democracy, that right, exercised with responsibility, must be protected. We support Bishop Kukah in his effort to unveil the truth about the Nigerian situation in order to ameliorate things. We call on the Nigerian government to learn not to see criticism as an attack or a crime.”
Speaking further, the bishops berated the National Assembly for trying to gag the media and penalising journalists for merely doing their jobs.
The bishops noted that the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, guaranteed by the constitution and cannot be alienated by any government least of all in a democracy.
They said: “We declare again, as we have done often in the past, that only the truth can set us free.
“The attempt of the Nigerian National Assembly to silence the press and penalise journalists for merely doing their job is to be completely rejected.
“We hold that the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, guaranteed by the constitution and cannot be alienated by any government least of all in a democracy.
“For the sake of our democracy, that right exercised with responsibility must be protected.”