By our reporter| The presidency on Wednesday faulted a group, the Muslim Solidarity Forum, who issued a threat to the bishop of Sokoto diocese, Most Rev Matthew Hassan Kukah, to tender an apology over a recent comment credited to him or leave the state.
In a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, the presidency described the situation as an assault on the cleric’s freedom.
The presidency also declared that Bishop Kukah must be allowed to practice his faith and politics, describing the stance by the Muslim solidarity forum as wrong and not in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The statement said, “under our constitution, every citizen has the right to, among others, freedom of speech and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without any inhibitions.
“Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity.”
“The right for all religions to co-exist is enshrined in this country’s constitution. The duty of the government, more so, this democratic government, is to ensure that the constitution is respected. But all must respect the rights and sensitivities of their fellow Nigerians”.
While admitting that Bishop Kukah offended many with his controversial remarks against the government and the person of the president, the presidency called for restraint, warning that groups or factions such as the Muslim Solidarity Forum must not give quit notices, neither should they unilaterally sanction any perceived breaches.
Bishop Kukah had in his Christmas message last year, lamented the state of the polity, condemning the president’s leadership style, and insisted that there would have been a military coup if the President was not a Muslim from the north.