The Christian Association of Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to stop the proposed grazing reserves across the country, saying it runs contrary to the collective interest of farmers.
The position of CAN was contained in a communique issued in Abuja and obtained by The PUNCH on Thursday at the end of its two-day National Executive Council meeting.
It was signed by its General Secretary, Dr. Musa Asake, and the Director (Legal & Public Affairs), Albert Uko.
The association said, “The meeting observed bill in the National Assembly seeking to create grazing reserves for a segment of herdsmen against the collective interest of farmers.
“The criminal menace of these herdsmen is now affecting almost all the states of the federation and one may be inclined to believe that this is an indirect way to Islamise Nigeria through violence.
“The Church calls on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to suspend consideration of this bill in its entirety and call for dialogue with stakeholders to give room for more inputs.”
The association also criticised the recent judgment of the Osun State High Court, legalising the use of hijab by pupils in public schools, including missionary schools, in the state.
While warning that the government was sending a signal that it was clearly in favour of one religion over the other, CAN advised that Governor Rauf Aregbesola should be sensitive to religious matters.
The meeting was attended by the national officers of CAN, the five heads of blocs, the zonal chairmen, the states chairmen and delegates representing the five blocs of the association.
The five blocs are the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria; Christian Council of Nigeria; Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria/Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria; TEKAN/ECWA and Organisation of African Instituted Churches.
At the NEC meeting, President of Nigerian Baptist Convention, Dr. Supo Ayokunle, was elected President, while Prof. Joseph Otubu of the Motailatu Church Cherubim and Seraphim Movement, was elected the Vice-President.
While Ayokunle contested on the platform of CCN, Otubu contested under the umbrella of OAIC.
They will be inaugurated atr the General Assembly of CAN to be held in July.
The association also condemned what it described as “persecution of the church” and religious intolerance in northern Nigeria, citing the killing of an Igbo businesswoman in Kano and attempted murder of a Christian in Kaduna for allegedly eating during the ongoing Ramadan.
The NEC also expressed concern with the attempt to smuggle a bill for the amendment of the constitution to provide for the criminal aspect of the Sharia legal system in the Nigerian constitution, which would “open the doors for more persecution of Christians” in Nigeria, especially those residing in the areas where Sharia law operated.