An empty church
…Makes case for conference of ethnic nationalities to re-negotiate Nigeria as pre-requisite for new Constitution
…Adopt report of 2014 National Conference
…Advocate a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’
… Dismissed insinuations that Gowon took Nigeria to OIC
By Sam Eyoboka
THE National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, has opposed a fresh Constitutional amendment by the National Assembly, asking ethnic nationalities to re-negotiate Nigeria as a pre-requisite for a new Constitution.
The group, led by Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, also asked the Federal Government to adopt report of the 2014 Constitutional Confab, if it was ready about restructuring the country.
It also advocated a Truth and Reconciliation Committee, while dismissing insinuations that former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), took Nigeria to the Organisation of Islamic Countries, IOC.
The NCEF also had as members Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (retd), as Vice-Chairman, Prof. Joseph Otubu, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd), Elder Moses Ihonde, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd), Hon. Justice James Ogebe (retd), Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and Dame Priscilla Kuye, among others.
The Christian elders in a very detailed rejoinder to an article by Mr. Femi Abbas, titled: “How Gowon took Nigeria into OIC” published on Friday, September 4, 2020 in a national daily (not Vanguard), signed by the chairman, Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, said: “The destruction and affliction visited upon Nigeria are absolutely unnecessary.
‘’Violations of Section 10, Section 38(1), Section 14(3) of the Federal Character Principle and Section 14(2)b should be redressed forthwith.
“The National Assembly should legislate a bill to amend the 1963 Republican constitution to conform to present geo-political structures as an immediate replacement for the conflict-ridden 1999 constitution.
‘’The 1963 constitution is the constitution negotiated by the ethnic nationalities and represents the will of Nigerians. The unitary constitutions produced by the military is what is killing Nigeria.
“The ethnic nationalities should organize themselves and conduct a conference of Ethnic nationalities to look into prevailing issues in Nigeria and take decisions that would lead to a new constitution or further improve the 1963 constitution.
“There should be an immediate unbundling of the 68 items in the exclusive, legislative list in the 1999 constitution. This is the quickest way to provide employment, rebuild the economy and make states viable.
On ther allegation that Nigeria became OIC member during Gowon’s regime, the NCEF said: “This is deliberate distortion of history because nothing of the sort happened. As we shall see later in this rejoinder, it was General Ibrahim Babangida who took Nigeria into OIC.
‘’If it was Gen. Gowon who took Nigeria into OIC, as claimed by Mr. Abbas, then, why and when was Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd), removed from office? And, who was it that removed him?”
The NCEF said: “Mr. Abbas did not hide his dislike for NCEF. He described NCEF as ‘a dubious, self-appointed Christian body’ and went further to call the NCEF a mischievous body because the Christian elders alerted the nation that there is an Islamization agenda going on in Nigeria.
“For the information of Mr. Abbas and his sponsors, NCEF was established by the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria and inaugurated by the former President of CAN. Therefore, it cannot by any stretch of imagination be described as “dubious or self-appointed Christian body.
“Secondly, the language employed by Mr. Abbas in seeking to revise history is unprofessional and unbecoming of a journalist. We believe it is possible to make a point without becoming abusive. We are of the opinion that the Ethics Committee of NUJ need to have a private chat with Mr. Abbas.
“Thirdly, in the attempt to dissimulate and absolve any Muslim of complicity in the membership of Nigeria in OIC, Mr. Abbas displayed high level ‘Taqiyya’ which is Islamic doctrine of approved deception. It is for the purpose of correcting the dissimulation employed in the article under reference that this rejoinder is written.
Who took Nigeria to OIC?
“If it was Gen. Gowon who took Nigeria into OIC, as claimed by Mr. Abbas, then, why and when was Commodore Ukiwe removed from office? And, who was it that removed him?
“Commodore Ukiwe was removed by Gen. Babangida, a former military President of Nigeria, for querying the full membership of Nigeria in the OIC. It is curious that throughout his discourse, Mr. Abbas did not mention the name of Commodore Ukiwe.
The true story: How Nigeria joined OIC
The Christian elders said further: ‘’In its February 24, 1986 edition, Newswatch ran a story on how Nigeria joined OIC. The investigative report, 34 years ago, proves conclusively that Mr. Femi Abbas deliberately set out to deceive Nigerians by telling a convoluted story of how Gen. Gowon took Nigeria to the Islamic body. Gowon did not take Nigeria into OIC, at all. On the contrary, Gowon opposed it.
“Newswatch wrote as follows: “In September 1969, Arab countries met in Rabat, Morocco, a preeminent centre of Islamic theology, since the days of the early prophets, to put finishing touches on the proposed Organization of Islamic Conference, OIC.
‘’Nigerian Muslims were anxious to be part of the historic gathering. With the support and encouragement of the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar III, a delegation led by Abubakar Mahmood Gumi, a prominent Islamic priest, flew to Morocco to register Nigeria’s presence.
“Gumi was later to become a fixture in the OIC issue for the next 17 years. At that time, Nigeria was on the last leg of its civil war.
“Yakubu Gowon, head of state at the time, was worried that the attendance of Gumi’s delegation might be misconstrued as a declaration of intent of Nigeria’s membership of the organization.”
“He, therefore, sent an urgent message to King Hassan of Morocco clarifying the status of the delegation. The team was on its own, Gowon reportedly informed King Hassan, and that they were not representatives of the Nigerian Government. That move threw a spanner in the works.
“The delegation led by Gumi was denied accreditation, but was merely allowed to observe the proceedings. Less than two years later, when the OIC was formally inaugurated, it was clear that Nigeria had no intention of becoming a full-fledged member of the organization.
“This account was written 34 years ago. Where then, did Mr. Femi Abbas get his version of history that Gowon took Nigeria into OIC? The Newswatch account continued that ‘ the Muhammadu Buhari government decided to pursue the matter with deliberate speed.
‘’Newswatch has been reliably informed that ex-Supreme Headquarters chief of staff, Tunde Idiagbon’s pilgrimage to Mecca last year, just before the Buhari regime was swept away, was connected in part with the decision of Nigeria to enroll as a bona fide member of the OIC.
‘’Buhari was to have paid a trip to Saudi Arabia subsequent to Idiagbon’s, but the coup made that plan academic. In December 1985, the OIC sent an invitation to Nigeria to attend the OIC ministerial conference scheduled for January 6-10 in Fez, Morocco …
“ On New Year Day, Dodan Barracks instructed the Ministry of External Affairs “for the first time in the history of the effort to get Nigeria to join the OIC, to give diplomatic cover to ‘the Nigerian delegation.
“The all Muslim delegation was led by Rilwanu Lukman … The demand for a diplomatic cover for the delegation effectively meant that the representatives were from the Nigerian government … What is clear, however, is that the Minister (Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi) did not give a diplomatic cover to the delegation by the time he left on his diplomatic shuttle to Europe and North America …
“While Akinyemi was away, the official delegation left for Morocco under diplomatic cover, presented an application for Nigeria’s membership and was immediately admitted as a member, after being a spectator for 17 years.
“Gen. Gowon did not take Nigeria into OIC; Gen. Ibrahim Babangida did. The narrative of Mr. Femi Abbas is falsehood.’’
On Islamization, the Christian elders contended that the Caliphate apologist sought to impress the readers that the claim of Islamization agenda in Nigeria was false.
“Again, this is nothing but “Taqiyya”. The first person to prove Mr. Abbas wrong is Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram who said in a video in 2012. … This war is not political; it is religious, it is between Muslims and unbelievers (arna).
‘’It will stop when Islamic religion is the determinant in governance in Nigeria or, in the alternative, when all fighters are annihilated and no one is left to continue the fight. I warn all Muslims at this juncture that any Muslim who assists an unbeliever in this war should consider himself an unbeliever and should consider himself dead.
“If the statement of Shekau is not confirmation of an Islamization agenda, Mr. Abbas should kindly tell us what it means. There are two factors that confirm that a country is an Islamic state and both were accomplished in Nigeria by the past Muslim military leaders. The two factors are as follows: Membership of OIC, and Inclusion of Islamic law and jurisprudence in the Constitution.
“While Gen. Bagangida unilaterally and surreptitiously took Nigeria into OIC in 1986, Gen. Abdulsalaam Abubakar unilaterally inserted Sharia legal code into the 1999 Constitution in violation of Section 10 and Section 1 of the same Constitution. Any country that has these two factors is an Islamic state.
“That Nigeria has been Islamized is no longer debatable. The Muslim military heads of state plunged Nigeria into the crisis of Islamization. What the Islamists are now fighting for is to transmute Nigeria into a Sultanate, over and above the constitution.
“This is the crisis that is currently playing out leading to the collapse of every infrastructure and institution in Nigeria, by the deliberate design of the Islamists, who seek to plunge Nigeria into chaos and from the rubble build their Islamic theocratic state.
“This is why we advise that Nigeria should, as a matter of urgency, discard the conflict ridden 1999 Constitution and constitute a Conference of Ethnic Nationalities to re-negotiate Nigeria as prerequisite for a new Constitution.
“In the meantime, the 1963 Republican Constitution should be amended and adopted as a matter of urgency to stabilize the country. So long as Nigeria continues to operate the sectional and discriminatory 1999 Constitution, the country shall neither have peace nor progress because insurgency has root in the dual conflicting ideologies in the 1999 Constitution.
Islam in Africa Organisation
‘’Mr. Abbas sought to sugar coat the Islam in Africa Organization Conference (IAO) as an innocuous meeting that meant no harm. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The communiqué issued after the meeting of the IAO, titled “Abuja Declarations 1989” proved that something sinister was in the offing for Nigeria.’’