by Lekan Olanrewaju
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has spoken out against proposed dialogues by the government with the Boko Haram sect.
Speaking in Kaduna at the 46th Convention of the United Church of Christ in Nigeria, Oritsejafor warned of the consequences of discussing with the sect:
“Who is Boko Haram?” he asked. “Is there really Boko Haram? There are about 26 different groups – Jihadists and Islamists. They are different groups. It is you – the media – that group them together and call them Boko Haram.
“So, I don’t even know who they are, but my point is it depends on what you are trying to negotiate or dialogue with them. Will you discuss with somebody who is saying Nigeria must become a Muslim or an Islamic nation?”
He also said that such talks would result in disunity. “I don’t think any sensible government, whether the President is a Muslim or a Christian, will not want to sit down and discuss such a thing because it is the greatest instrument of disunity that this country will ever experience.”
He also defended his earlier statement telling Christians to “defend themselves,” saying, “I sit back and wonder; when I said to Christians ‘defend and protect yourselves’, people said I was inciting violence. It is part of the laws of God. If you will pursue an animal to a point of no return, the animal will turn around to pursue you back.
“If you go into a man’s house and said you want to kill him and the man just said to you ‘kill me’ without fighting back, that is called suicide. And if you commit suicide, you will go to hell. So, you are supposed to protect yourself and that is what we are saying and not for the people to retaliate.”
He also clarified that he was not promoting religious intolerance, saying he was reaching out to Muslims. “There are Muslims who are wonderful and good people,” he said. “We are reaching out to them. We are looking for them to come and join us and let us work together and speak with one voice. Let us not attack each other; let us not go against each other.
“When you see Christians coming out and talking strong, it is the pains they are feeling. Let me be honest with you; they are the people who are suffering most and that is why you see them talking and expressing themselves the way they do because of the pains they feel and not because they don’t want one Nigeria.”