Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State, has described the reaction of the Presidency to the address made by Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, to the US Congress as unfortunate.
The governor’s stance was made known in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, on Saturday.
Kukah had in an address made virtually to the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs recently accused President Muhammadu Buhari of showing preference to people of his religion while making appointments.
The Presidency hit back at Kukah over his comments, insisting that there is no bias concerning appointments, religion or ethnicity in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
But Governor Ortom backed the senior Catholic cleric and called on the Federal Government to stop intimidating patriotic Nigerians who are raising genuine concerns about the worsening insecurity and economic situation in the country.
According to him, he would have said a similar thing if called to address the audience.
The governor stated that Nigeria is practising democracy, which has no room for repression and dictatorship.
The statement read: “Governor Ortom states that the country’s Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech to all citizens, unlike a military regime which suppresses the right of the people to voice their opinions on challenges facing their country.
“He says Bishop Kukah is one Nigerian who is selfless and speaks his mind frankly on national issues calling on the government to ensure justice, the rule of law and equity for all.
“The Governor wonders why the Presidency has chosen to politicize the views of Bishop Kukah when all the issues he highlighted in his address were facts about the country.
“He says Kukah was right when he stated that nepotism has been elevated above federal character by the present administration. He further agrees with the Bishop that Christians across the country are targets of elimination and thousands have already fallen to the sword of jihadist supremacists.
“Governor Ortom states that Kukah is not to blame for the ranking of Nigeria as the 8th least peaceful country in Africa and the rating of killer herdsmen as the 4th deadliest terror group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index.
“He expects the Presidency to rather be worried that Nigeria is ranked as the most terrorised nation in Africa with an average of over 2,000 deaths per year on account of terrorism.