A group known as The Initiative to Save Democracy has asked John Onaiyekan, former Catholic archbishop of Abuja, not to compare the Catholic Church with the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
Onaiyekan had described the ban on the activities of IMN across the nation as a “blunt mistake”, saying the government could “wake up one day and take a similar action against the Catholic Church”.
But the group accused the cleric of being silent on the “violent activities” of IMN members, arguing that the proscription of IMN followed due process.
“We view with concern the recent comments by the former archbishop of Abuja catholic archdiocese, Cardinal Onaiyekan regarding the proscription of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria IMN by the federal government. The cleric was quoted to have called on the federal government to rescind the proscription as it was undemocratic. He also cited example with the Catholic church, asking if he found himself in the situation, whether the federal government would not allow his Catholic adherents to protest,” Akinloye James, president of the initiative, said in a statement.
“We note that the retired archbishop missed the point as the proscription of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria followed due process and after serial breach of all known laws and regulations guiding public protests in Nigeria. We also want to put on record that the proscription followed a valid order from a court of competent jurisdiction banning the activities of the group and ordering for its proscription.
“We are all witnesses to the activities of the group in Abuja in recent times, as well as their violent outings in the public. Before our very eyes the group embarked on attacking public institutions and properties in the federal capital, and this led to the loss of human lives. The group is on record to have constituted themselves into public nuisance by blocking roads and attacking law enforcement agencies at will.”
“We are therefore disappointed that John Cardinal Onaiyekan chose to close his eyes to the violent activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria but rather found it convenient to criticise the federal government when they decided to bring the violent activities of the group to an end. This smacks of hypocrisy on his part as it was expected that he should have evaluated all sides of a case before commenting.”