The Bishops and Clerics whose attendance at the formal unveiling of former Borno Governor, Senator Kashim Shetiima, as the running mate to APC’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, sparked media controversy and insinuations of sponsored impersonation have offered proof of their status as ordained clerics and founders of Christian ministries.
The Christian leaders also clarified the widespread misunderstanding that they attended the event as representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
DAILY GIST had reported that a coalition of Bishops and some pastors stormed Musa Yar’adua centre, venue of the official unveiling of Senator Kashim Shettima as the vice presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
But CAN dissociated itself from the Bishops who attended the event saying they were desperados who went there for themselves.
The presence of the pastors and bishops had elicited outrage on social media.
Since the pictures of the supposed clergy members surfaced on social media, many Nigerians have been dissecting and analysing the suitability of their garbs.
The ruling party has been at the receiving end of the flak, with critics alleging that the individuals are impostors hired to create the impression of an acceptance of the Muslim-Muslim ticket by the Christian community.
However, addressing a press conference Monday in Abuja, secretary of the clerics’ umbrella body, the Muslim-Christian Love Foundation, Bishop Adams Abel King said their identification with Senator Kashim Shettima and the APC was informed by his transformation of Borno state, where he handed management of social relations, including the protection of rights for all regardless of religion, while he was the governor of the state.
He noted d that they never portrayed themselves as emissaries of Christian Association on Nigerian (CAN) at the event.
The group in the statement said: “Although Senator Kashim Shettima took the mantle of the state at a difficult time marked by terror attacks and deadly insurgency, his mature, cautious, and decisive management of the state’s affairs helped preserved the social fabric that held several communities together and reassured members of the Christian faith that the government remained committed to their freedoms and wellbeing.”
They also recounted “his (Shettima) rebuilding efforts targeted at the Christian community, including the reconstruction of churches affected by terrorist activities.”
According to the Clerics, these contributions and sincere commitment to the constitutional obligation to uphold the rights of all without prejudice or bias qualify Senator Shettima as a brother and an ally in their quest to promote peaceful inter-faith relations in the country.
They dismissed claims of being sponsored to impersonate leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria at the event.
While justifying their authenticity as church leaders, the group made public their respective churches and ministries, some of which have existed for several years.
They include; the Christian Revival Evangelical Mission Worldwide of Apostle Godwin Livinus; the Divine Prophetic End Time Gospel Faith in Kubwa, Abuja of Bishop Dr. Emeka Theodore; the Light House of all Nation Ministry of Bishop Emmanuel Sunday Jayeola, among others.
Condemning the attacks and harassment they endured over their participation at the event, the group said it was their democratic rights to make a political choice.
They however, urged a critical evaluation of reports and allegations before their spread and amplification in the press, “particularly on social media where mob antics, driven by ignorance and malice, have strained social ties and caused divisiveness.”