“We are in one country… no one should be treated as a stranger anywhere nor should anyone claim to be host to anyone. The government must make the laws that guarantee that we all obey such laws,” he said during the event that was organized under the theme, “Harnessing Nigeria’s Religious Diversity for Sustainable Peace and National Development”.
The Catholic Bishop known for delivering prophetic messages noted that in Nigeria, especially in the northern parts of the country, Christians continue to endure unimaginable suffering.
“How do we explain the fact that Churches are seen but not accepted as part of our heritage in our cities? Why is the burning of Churches tolerated? Why and how can a citizen take the life of another on the grounds of religion and nothing happens? How is it that across the northern states, you can find land to build a restaurant, a hotel, a cinema house, and so on with no problem, but there is no land to build a Church?” he posed.
Bishop Kukah added, “Governments in the North for example, often say that Christians should seek written permission from those around where they want to build a Church. How and what is it about Christianity that makes so many ordinary Muslims in northern Nigeria uncomfortable? What makes some Christians uncomfortable about Islam?”
According to the Catholic Bishop who has been lauded for being vocal in advocating for good governance, Christians in Nigeria are being denied their “legitimate inheritance” and the right to belong.
“We all claim to be descendants of Abraham which means we have a common parentage. So why are we being denied our legitimate inheritance?” he posed, and continued, “Muslims make the same claims but the solution is not an exchange of excuses, but a determination to build harmony. The answer is to create an opportunity to hear out one another in forums such as these.”
There is a need to protect the rights of all faiths in Nigeria, the member of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development since his appointment in January 2021 said, and added, “The rights to practice our faiths should be adequately protected.”
“Christians feel quite insulted when, as we have here in Kano, land allocation forms that say that the land cannot be used for a Church or a brothel! This is not only an insult, but humiliating to Christians,” he said, adding, “We should openly show these wounds so they can are washed and treated.”
Bishop Kukah said that in the teachings of Islam, there is no compulsion in religion.
“If God had wanted us to worship him in one way only, he would have made us one. So, who are those standing in the way of God today by denying other people their rights based on religion?” he posed.