Lai Mohammed | Minister of Information and Culture

The Federal Government has urged religious leaders in the country to refrain from stoking the embers of hatred and disunity.

It warned that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at a time such as this could trigger unintended consequences in the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, issued the warning in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.

“While religious leaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity, and religious disharmony,” he said.

Mohammed believes it is graceless and impious for any religious leader to use the period of Christmas, which is a season of peace, to stoke the embers of hatred, sectarian strife, and national disunity.

He stated that while some religious leaders, being human, may not be able to disguise their national leadership preference, they should refrain from stigmatising the leader they have never supported anyway, using disproved allegations of nepotism or whatever.

The Minister said whatever challenges Nigeria may be going through at this moment could only be tackled when all leaders and indeed all Nigerians come together.

He stressed that the practice of engaging in name-calling and finger-pointing was one that should be discouraged by all citizens.

“Calling for a violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government, no matter how disguised such a call is, and casting a particular religion as violent is not what any religious leader should engage in, and certainly not in a season of peace,” Mohammed said.

He insisted that instigating regime change outside the ballot box was not only unconstitutional but also an open call to anarchy.

Although he did not mention any religious leader, the statement from the minister could be linked to the Christmas message of the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah.

In a statement on Friday, Kukah criticised the Muhammadu Buhari administration for the way it was handling the insecurity situation and other challenges in the nation.

He had also accused the President of deliberately sacrificing the dreams of those who voted for him to what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern supremacy by reducing others in public life to second class status.

“He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion. Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it.

“There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war. The President may have concluded that Christians will do nothing and will live with these actions.

“He may be right and we Christians cannot feel sorry that we have no pool of violence to draw from or threaten our country. However, God does not sleep. We can see from the inexplicable dilemma of his North,” Bishop Kukah said in the statement.

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