The Archbishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah says he is ready to apologise if he is shown any part of his Christmas sermon that insulted Islam.
Kukah was reacting to a statement by the Islamic groups JNI, who alleges that he bit the finger that fed him despite being accepted and tolerated.
Bishop Kukah also asked the Islamic groups to show him where and how in all his sermon that he insulted Islam or Muslims.
In his response to the JNI’s statement, Kukah noted that the JNI Secretary dwelt more on politics rather than humanity to have accused him of firing an arrow at the heart of Islam and Muslims in Nigeria.
He explained, “Dr Aliyu has accused me of being an enemy of his religion, Islam. He accused me of what he calls, firing an arrow at the heart of Islam and Muslims in Nigeria.”
Bishop Kukah explained that the statement said he has been accorded respect and accommodated in Sokoto and has turned around to bite a finger that has fed him.
“He poses a question: How can Muslims continue to be hospitable to one who proves to be an ingrate many times over? How can Muslims be comfortable in associating with a bitterly vindictive person disguised in the garb of a religious cleric?”
Bishop Kukah noted that his area of research is religion, politics and society, saying that he is concerned about how religion can help to form good citizens and also how the state can create an environment that enables citizens to achieve this.
“In all of my writings over the last forty or more years, I have never written a single paper or article on Islam as a religion. If there is any scholar anywhere who knows, let him or her say so.
“I have written about religion focusing on how both citizens and the state deal with it, with a focus on politicians. My concerns are summarised in what the late Professor Bala Usman loosely referred to as the manipulation of religion. This manipulation is what has turned religion into a weapon of war in Nigeria,” he explained.
Bishop Kukah requested, Dr Aliyu as a matter of honour and based on the text of my sermon to formally identify where in his sermon he attacked Islam or all Muslims in Nigeria, assuring that he would be more than happy to apologise for the offensive part of the statement.
He further stated,
“The relevant paragraphs in my sermon focused on the two painful themes of nepotism and the haemorrhaging of lives in our country, a fact that as I said, most religious leaders and statesmen and women have alluded to.
“How a critique of government policies suddenly becomes hater of Islam and the north, beggars belief.”
He called on Dr Aliyu to clarify and validate his accusations against him and advance the reasons why he should incite violence against him.
Bishop Kukah noted,
“I am unaware of anyone in Sokoto who has accused me of any misdemeanour or actions aimed at undermining the state or anyone, no least the faith of Islam.”
“I believe that today, nepotism poses a serious threat to our country.”
He added that the issue of the insecurity and how the north has become so affected, saying,
“My belief was to add my voice to the voices of millions of Nigerians, Muslims, Christians, Traditional rulers, Statesmen and all who have shown genuine concern.”
He opined that it would be a great pity and a disservice to their efforts at national cohesion if they resort to the kind of diversionary threats that Dr Aliyu has embarked on.
“It only makes the job of insurgents easier if we become enemies to one another,” he noted.