The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to learn to tolerate citizens’ criticism of his administration.
In a statement on Wednesday signed by its President, Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle, CAN asked the Federal Government to always exercise caution in the way it treats Nigerians’ observations so as not to further plunge the nation into unnecessary crisis.
CAN was reacting to the invitation and subsequent release of retired Naval officer, Commodore Olakunle Olawunmi, by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) on Tuesday.
Olawunmi had claimed during an interview on Channels Television that Boko Haram terrorists were being sponsored by governors, senators and some officials in the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
But according to the Christian group, it appeals to the government not see its critics as enemies or trying to pull the country down.
CAN also advised the government not to gag the people and the media or intimidate those who speak about its failures with arrest.
The Christian body, however, urges Nigerians to be modest and factual in their comments and respect the President and all those in authority.
The statement reads: “On the heightened situation in the country with its attendant fear and tension, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) hereby admonishes those in the political leadership of the nation to exercise caution in the way they treat observations of people and comments so as not to further plunge the nation into unnecessary crisis.
“We urge Nigerians to be modest and factual in their comments and respect those who are leading us by giving honour to whom honour is due; however, that does not erode their rights and freedom of expression by speaking the truth always to those they elected into power without fear.
“We must avoid inciting people against leaders, ethnic and religious groups. We are only calling for restraints and balanced judgement. We must speak the truth always because it is the truth alone that can set free.
“In the same vein, we urge the government not to gag the people or see those who speak about the failures of government as enemies to be intimidated, hounded down like preys and arrested. This will only worsen the situation by widening the divide and fan embers of passion.
“The Press must be allowed to exercise its constitutional freedom and right to disseminate information or spread the news with strict adherence to the ethics of the profession without any intimidation or whatsoever.
“It is being reported by the media recently that one Retired Navy Commodore Kunle Olawunmi has been invited by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) over comments he allegedly made on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily Breakfast programme last Wednesday.’ We thank God that it was a friendly chat as claimed by the Defence Headquarters.
“We urge the government to tolerate criticisms that are constructive as they would help in finding solutions to our problems, especially those that expose the ills in our society and the people behind our ordeals.
“This would help us get to the roots of our problems and solve them. We must promote peace, love and unity in all we say and do.
“We once again urge Nigerians to run away from spreading fake news because it is damaging and totally unhelpful.”
Also, CAN urges the government of Edo State to rescind its plan to bar people who could not show evidence of vaccination from entering the church, mosques and public events centres beginning from this month of September.
CAN states that while it fully support vaccination, it should be voluntary and not coercing people into getting vaccinated, which it said is a violation of the fundamental right of each individual.