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Quit Notice: Presidency Cautions Muslim Group To Leave Bishop Kukah Alone

Peter Okunoren

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The presidency yesterday waded into the raging controversy over the Christmas homily of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Hassan Kukah, with a caution to an Islamic group that demanded that he should apologize or quit Sokoto State, to back off.

It said in a statement by a presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, that it was wrong for the group based in Sokoto, Muslim Solidarity Forum, to give conditionality to Kukah, over the homily in which he accused President Muhammadu Buhari of promoting northern hegemony, and interpreted by some Islamic interests as attacking Islam and Muslims.

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) also expressed concern over what it described as disturbing comments with religious undertones, which it said were causing anger and fear in the public domain.

Kukah, in his Christmas homily, had said that there could have been a coup if a non-northern Muslim president had done a fraction of what Buhari did.

His homily drew censures from the federal government and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), led by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, which attacked the bishop for allegedly denigrating Islam and Muslims.

The Muslim Solidarity Forum joined the fray on Tuesday, with a call on Kukah to apologize for his alleged attack on Islam and Muslims or leave the Caliphate.

The forum, which labelled itself as an umbrella body for Islamic organizations, scholars and clerics, said Kukah’s Christmas homily was capable of triggering religious violence in the country.

The Acting Chairman of the forum, Sokoto chapter, Prof. Isa Maishanu, said the message of the cleric was a direct attack on Islam, adding that that was not the first time Kukah was attacking Islam and Muslims, especially those from the northern part of the country.

He faulted the message of Kukah in which he said if a fraction of the nepotism committed by Buhari, a Muslim and a Northerner, was committed by “any non-northern president,” there would have been a coup in the country.”

However, Kukah, on Monday, rebutted the allegations and accused the JNI Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Aliyu, of inciting violence against him.

He also challenged the JNI to “as a matter of honour” show where he attacked Islam or Muslims in the statement, adding that he is “more than happy to apologize” for such.

However, in a bid to douse tensions of Kukah’s homily, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Shehu, cautioned the Islamic forum against issuing such an ultimatum and should, therefore, let Kukah be.

The presidency described as wrong and unconstitutional the ultimatum that was given to Kukah.

It said: “Under our laws, groups or factions must not give quit notices, neither should they unilaterally sanction any perceived breaches. Where they occur, it is the courts of law that should adjudicate. Unilateral action is not the way to go.

“Groups such as the Muslim Solidarity Forum must be seen to share and uphold the country’s multi-religious principles. And individuals like Father Kukah must respect the feelings of his fellow Nigerians in his private and public utterances.

“Under our constitution, every citizen has the right to, among others, freedom of speech and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without any inhibitions. Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity. The right for all religions to co-exist is enshrined in this country’s constitution.

“The duty of the government, more so, this democratic government, is to ensure that the constitution is respected. But all must respect the rights and sensitivities of their fellow Nigerians.”

The presidency added that although Kukah had offended many with his controversial remarks against the government and the person of the president, with some even accusing him of voicing anti-Islamic rhetoric, “on matters such as these, responsible leadership in any society must exercise restraint.”

“Knee-jerk reactions will not only cause the fraying of enduring relationships, but also the evisceration of peaceful communities such as Sokoto, the headquarters of the Muslim community as a beacon of pluralism and tolerance. The Sultanate has historically had good relations with followers of all faiths. That is why Father Kukah was received on his arrival in Sokoto with friendship and tolerance,” it stated.

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NPHCDA: No Microchips In COVID-19 Vaccine, No Changes In DNA

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Faisal Shuaib, chief executive officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), says the belief that the COVID-19 vaccine contains microchips and changes the DNA, is false.

Nigeria received its first batch of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine containing 3.9 million doses on Tuesday.

In an interview with Channels Television on Wednesday, Shuaib said it was the responsibility of health workers and scientists to address any concern that Nigerians may have regarding the vaccine.

“We as health workers; we as scientists have been working in the last few years to make sure that we don’t take for granted any questions or concerns that Nigerians will have. It is our responsibility not to just offer the vaccine but we also have to put in the hard work to convince Nigerians, to provide them with the information around their questions. So is there a chip for example? No there is no chip in the vaccine. Is it possible that this will change your DNA? No, that doesn’t happen,” he said.

His comment comes amid misconceptions by some Nigerians concerning the vaccine — such as ”it changes the DNA; it contains chips, and it is the mark of the Antichrist”.

While addressing concerns that only the rich will get access to the vaccine, Shuaib said the distribution will only be done according to priority — with frontline health workers as first priority followed by vulnerable groups.

”We have not already allotted these vaccines to the rich people or the people in the urban areas. Absolutely not. The president has been very clear , and the vice-president has also added his voice. The Chairman of the presidential task force (PTF) has communicated this, and in our PTF media briefing, we’ve made it very clear in terms of who we’re going to prioritize. The first group of people who are going to be taking this vaccine are the frontline health workers,” he said.

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COVID Vaccines Not Allotted To Rich People —– FG

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The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said contrary to widespread insinuations, the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid vaccines presently in the country have not been apportioned to “rich people”.

Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, made this known while featuring on Channels Television’sSunrise Daily’ programme.

Nigeria on Tuesday received nearly four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, shipped via the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF, and WHO.

The 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine arrived in Abuja at noon on Tuesday.

Speaking on the delivery of the vaccines on Wednesday, the agency boss said, “We are protecting the vaccines very closely, we’ve increased security around the vaccines to make sure that unauthorized access is not possible.

“So, we are waiting on NAFDAC. We feel that they are going to do all of the checks that are necessary and once they give us the green light, we will be ready to roll out the vaccines.”

Asked whether the vaccines have been shared among influential people, Shuaib said, “I will tell you categorically that we have not allotted these vaccines to the rich people or to the people in the urban areas, absolutely not. Mr. President has been very clear.

“Mr Vice President has also added his voice and the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force has communicated this at the Presidential Task Force media briefings. He has made it very clear in terms of who we are going to prioritize and I will repeat it here again that the first set of people who are going to be taking these vaccines are those people who have sacrificed in the last one year taking care of all Nigerians that have come down with Covid-19. So, the frontline health workers.

“On Friday, we are going to be launching the vaccines, we are going to be rolling them out at the treatment centers at the national hospital. Our priority will be the health workers that are frontline. We are going to be giving these vaccines to first responders.

“We are also going to be looking at people outside of the health sector who are at risk of getting Covid-19. We are going to be looking at those strategic leaders like Mr President and the Vice-President, those people who will also want to take the vaccines publicly so that they can motivate the followers to take the vaccines, to convince them that the vaccines are very safe.”

He enjoined Nigerians who wish to receive the vaccines to register on the website of the NPHCDA, adding that over 2.3 million Nigerians have registered in the past few hours.

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FG To Clamp Down On Individuals, Bodies Sponsoring Upheavals

Peter Okunoren

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The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to henceforth clamp down on individuals and groups sponsoring upheavals with the sole aim to destabilize the nation.

It has also given a directive to security agencies to immediately commence the arrest of such individuals on the security watch list of the government.

The National Security Adviser to the President, Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), who made this known while speaking with reporters at the end of the National Security Council (NSC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday, said the Council also banned mining operations in Zamfara state due to the activities of unscrupulous elements that have threatened the peace of the state.

According to him, the government has enough information about those fanning the embers of disunity in the country and will now go after them.

He said the government had intelligence report that certain individuals and groups were still hell-bent on ensuring that crisis persists across the nation and will now go after them and get them arrested for necessary prosecution.

Details later…

 

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