Matthew Kukah, bishop of Sokoto Catholic diocese, has accused Khalid Aliyu, secretary-general of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), of inciting violence against him.
Kukah made the accusation on Monday while reacting to Aliyu’s claim that he launched an attack on Muslims in Nigeria.
In a statement issued on Christmas Day, the cleric accused President Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism, saying there could have been a coup if another president acted in a similar manner.
“Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it,” Kukah had said.
His comment drew criticisms from many including the JNI which alleged he was “firing poisoned arrows” at Muslims.
According to the group’s statement signed by Aliyu: “Though the message is disguised as a political hogwash to deceive the innocent, there is no doubt that it was a poisoned arrow fired at the heart of Islam and Muslims in Nigeria, hence the need for this intervention.”
But reacting on Monday, Kukah asked the JNI secretary to “as a matter of honour” show where he attacked Islam or Muslims in the statement, adding that he is “more than happy to apologise” for such.
“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. He says I have been accorded respect and accommodated in Sokoto and I have turned around to bite a finger that has fed me,” he said in a statement.
“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? I can only take this statement from the Secretary-General of JNI as a clear case of incitement to violence against me.
“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,” he said.
“How a critique of government policies suddenly becomes hatred of Islam and the north, beggars belief. I am therefore calling on Dr. Aliyu to clarify and validate his accusations against me and advance the reasons why he should incite violence against me.
“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.”