The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria has cautioned Religious Leaders to stop playing politics with cassocks; rather they should opt out of the clergy and join political parties of their choice instead using religious platform to fan embers of hatred by castigating INEC out of political interest and parochialism.
The Group made this Statement today while reacting to the comment made by the Former Catholic Bishop of Abuja Diocese, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan in which he accused the Chairman of INEC Professor Mahmud Yakubu of dishonesty on the outcome of 2023 General Elections.
The Bishop after attending the 10th Year Anniversary of Jesuit College in Port-Harcourt, River State gathered the journalists to make the disappointing comment.
According to the report televised in various National Television Stations, Onaiyekan accused Prof. Mahmud of dishonesty in the conduct of the last General Election, but he failed to be specific on the aspect he was referring to.
In a strongly-worded Press Statement by Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria jointly signed by its National Coordinator Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi and the Ogun State Coordinator of the Group Alh. Kamaldeen Akintunde, MMWG demanded from Cardinal Onaiyekan, the truth concealed by the INEC Chairman on the 2023 General Elections.
MMWG then queried: Is it on the landslide victory of President Bola Ahmed which has been attested to by International Observers, World Community and Court of Law, or the forged certificate issue which the losers have been battling over, upon which Chicago State University has confirmed that Mr. President’s certificate is authentic and not forged? Which one is Onaiyekan speaking about?
The Group therefore warned Religious Leaders to stand-clear of partisan politics if they are desirous of retaining their honour and glory, pointing out that it is highly embarrassing that Cardinal Onaiyekan talkes publicly as if he is an agent of the politicians who lost the Presidential Election.
We have watched many Leaders of the Christian faith that have appealed to those who lost the election not ‘to regard the election as ‘a do or die’ affairs pointing out that the Statement credited to Bishop Onaiyekan belittled his revered position as a Christian leader.
The Group then said: ‘Where are we going in this Country as some Church Leaders have turned themselves to agents of desperate politicians who wanted powers at all costs even if people did not win the election’?
The Group maintained that, that was not the first time Bishop Onaiyekan would be quoted with such misleading political comment on the last General Election but we thought he was misquoted; but now that we saw the comment as made by him in Port-Harcourt on the same issue, we felt embarrassed because, the role expected Religious Leaders is to ensure that opponents follow the due process and pray for peace to reign instead of speaking as if they are agents of the political opponents, the Group maintained.
MMWG said while not holding brief for INEC Chairman as he is competent and capable of defending himself, we condemn in strong-terms the reckless and inflammatory statement of Bishop Onaiyekan as it is capable of overheating the polity. Instead of the Bishop open intimidation of Prof. Yakubu, he has embarrased himself as his comment meant to intimidate INEC or Prof. Mahmud Yakubu has made them stronger; as they are not serving anyone’s interest but that of the Nation.
Like Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, Cardinal John Onaiyekan is gradually turning himself to politician, the Group said.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria has commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his directives for payment of salaries owed members of ASUU and National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) by the last Administration in the Country over ‘No work, No Pay Policy’ pointing out that the magnanimity demonstrated by the President would surely enhance service-delivery, as the Nation needs industrial peace to progress.
The Group urged the President to extend the kind gesture to other occupational groups that have been denied similar gesture.
SOCIAL MEDIA REGULATION
The Group finally concluded its Press Statement by reiterating its support for regulation of social media to reduce fake-news and false propaganda that are promoting lawlessness and insecurity in the Country, calling National Assembly Members to accelerate the consideration of the Bill on Media Regulation to enhance peace and stability of the Country.