The Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah, has denied calling for a military coup in the country.
He stated this while responding to questions on his recent Christmas message which generated a lot of controversy.
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“What I thought is my innocent message which is something I do all the time, which I released on Christmas day, it seemed it has gotten a lot of attention.
“But I think it is important for us to focus on the freedom that is available to us, the freedom of speech that all of us hold different views about.
“I am sure many of you have followed the reaction but I want to state my own side of the issue as I understand it.
“One of the difficulties we have in Nigeria and many parts of Africa is how to manage views that are not the same with ours,” he said.
‘What I mean’
He explained that “if you call for a coup, it means it is something that has not happened yet. It is something that will happen in the future.
“So if I call for it, it means it is not ready.
“So it is unfair for any journalist or newspapers to say that I called for a military coup,” he said.
The Bishop insisted that there was no problem between him and President Buhari.
”I don’t have problem with President Muhammadu Buhari, but I am not happy with the way things are going. People are losing their lives on a daily basis”.
He, however, expressed optimism that the country would overcome these problems if it was able to properly harness and maximize its diversity.
”My concern is to put Nigeria back to the path where all of us can collectively make our own contributions to correct what has been happening as most of us find it difficult to reach our communities safely,” Kukah said.
The Federal Government, through the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, had described Bishop Kukah’s Christmas message as one that could trigger hatred and disinity which might lead to unintended consequences.
Mohammed, in a statement signed by Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to the President (Media), Office of the Minister of Information and Culture. said while religious leaders had the responsibility to speak truth to power, “such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony.
Also, a group, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), described Bishop Kukah’s statement as “unguarded and open incitement to military coup and insurrection against the democratically elected government of Muhammadu Buhari.”
The group also called on the Federal Government to place Kukah on special watchlist “for this open attempt to set the South against the North in order to destabilize our country and further complicate matters.”