Chairman of the National Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi (rtd), yesterday denied the allegation that there is a grand plot to undermine the interest of Christians at the ongoing conference.
Kutigi, who spoke through his Assistant Secretary (Media and Communications) Mr. Apandem James, described as misleading, the protest of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over the composition of the conference’s committee on religion.
CAN in a statement on Tuesday faulted the composition of the committee on religion, saying “We hereby express our reservations on the composition of the members of the National Conference Committee on Religion and without fear or contradiction state that the Chairman of the Conference, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, has done his wish to ensure that the leadership of the committees favours Muslims in Nigeria”.
The umbrella body for Christians in the country specifically said that Kutigi tactically chose Alhaji Nurudeen Lemu, his kinsman from Niger State, as Chairman of Religion committee in order to control the committee through the back door.
But the retired Chief Justice of Nigeria denied the charge, saying there was no iota of truth in it.
The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to a misleading statement issued by Mr Sunny Oibe, who signed as the Director (National Issues) in the Secretariat of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). There is no truth whatsoever in the unfortunate alarm raised in the press statement which tends to give the impression of an attempt to undermine Christians in the National Conference.
“In trying to whip up unnecessary sentiments, Oibe claimed that the Committee on Religion is made up of 12 Muslims and eight Christians. That is not correct. The Committee has 21 members – 11 Muslims and 10 Christians.
“It must be noted that delegates were asked to submit names of three committees they would prefer to serve, in order of preference. Seven Christians indicated Religion as their first choice, four as second and two as third choice.
“That brought the total number of Christians to 13. Three Muslims made Religion their first choice, seven made it their second choice and eight made it their third choice bringing the total number to 20.
“However, some of those who had other committees as first and second choices were placed in the primary committees of choice leaving the Committee on Religion with a lesser number than was required to form a full Committee.
“It must also be noted that the official list of delegates showed that both Muslims and Christians have six representations each; which means that only 12 out of the 492 delegates are at the conference as Christian and Muslim leaders”.