The Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria has come to the defence of the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, over comments he made in a video that has gone viral.
In the six-minute video, El-Rufai defended his preference for Muslims in appointments during his administration. El-Rufai had clearly stated that he did not consider the non-Muslims, who make up about 50% of the population in Kaduna State, because they were unlikely to vote for his political party.
Rev. John Hayab, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State, criticised El-Rufai’s comments during an interview on Arise TV. However, the Sharia Council issued a statement defending the former governor. It described the Christian Association of Nigeria’s reaction as hypocritical.
AbdurRahman Hassan, the Secretary of the Sharia Council, stated that “Where was CAN when majority of pastors were making unguarded utterances, which, if not for the help of Allah (SWT), Nigeria would have been history?” The council also questioned why CAN was silent when a pastor was allegedly seen brandishing an AK-47 rifle on the pulpit in Abuja. Additionally, the council noted that despite Christian clergy members making prophecies of doom for the country, nothing negative happened to Nigeria.
The statement continued by saying that “The Muslim Ummah have been tolerant enough, if not, there is no way a Muslim-dominated state like Taraba will be governed by a Christian. If Plateau State, with a population of over 35 per cent Muslims, were denied the deputy governor slot, why should Kaduna State, with a Muslim population of close to 75 per cent, not have a Muslim-Muslim ticket?”.
The council called on Christian leaders to play the role of peace advocates and not promote inciting tendencies, it enjoined the Christian Association of Nigeria to maintain neutrality and avoid double standards.
The ongoing debate centers on El-Rufai’s rationale for his selection of a Muslim-Muslim ticket during the 2019 elections. Critics argued that it was an exclusionary policy that reinforced religious divisions. However, supporters pointed out that the governor’s actions were aimed at ensuring that his party had the best chance of winning.
The Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria is a conservative Islamic group that is often consulted on matters related to Islamic law. The council often speaks on matters related to religion, politics, and social issues. It is composed of Muslim scholars and jurists.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, on the other hand, is an umbrella organisation representing Christian groups in Nigeria and is known for advocating for peace and unity in the country. The association seeks to promote the interests of Christians in Nigeria and encourages interfaith dialogue with other religious groups.