The Presidency has reacted to the protests organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over the killing of Pastor Lawan Andimi, the chairman of the Christian umbrella body in Adamawa State, by Boko Haram insurgents.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Presidential media aide, Garba Shehu said that the demonstrations by CAN represented the peaceful right of all Nigerians to protest and express their views on matters of religion, ethics and otherwise.
He said that the origination of their protests was the “shocking, unacceptable death” of Pastor Andimi at the hands of Boko Haram, and also added that President Buhari felt their pain, and that of his family, for his loss.
The statement issued by Garba Shehu read in part: “Whether you are Christian or Muslim, all Nigerians and their beliefs must be respected. The duty of all of us is to uphold the rights of others to worship according to their faith – and to respect the rights of each other to do so freely in the spirit of brotherhood and respect – and without interference.
“This means, however, that we must stop false claims that only serve to divide one community against the other. There is no place in Nigeria for those who politicise religion. This is the President’s message to both Muslim and Christian communities alike.
“One more thing is this: it is the added need for citizen-consciousness to stand up for nation. Nigerians, only Nigerians can defend their nation against these abhorrent killings and all sorts of crimes worrying us as a nation.
“From the prayers and advocacy by CAN, citizens need to take an important lesson, which is, that our people must rally around the flag. Together, they rise to defeat the enemy and defend the state. In Nigeria, some groups rally against the government instead of the enemy. This is not right. It has the effect of playing into the hands of the enemy of the state.
“We will not defeat the terrorists, nor speed the return for those citizens, young and old taken by them by division in our own ranks. To pull apart is to play into the hands of the terrorists: this is what they want.”