The President and General Overseer of United Apostolic Church of Christ, Dr. James Bayo Owoyemi, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Boko Haram and bandits terrorising the Northern part of the country as terrorist organisations.
Owoyemi, who was in Akure, the Ondo State capital for the annual convention of the Church, said any organisation responsible for the killing of innocent people and displacing millions of Nigerians are terrorists, even if the Federal government has not declared them as such.
The Cleric said the duty of the government at all levels is to protect its citizens and if some people are making that job difficult, it should not fail to invoke the law to punish the offenders.
He said: “From the definition of terrorism, those who engage in termination of lives are terrorists even if the government has not declared them as terrorists, they are terrorists.”
While reacting to the removal of Nigeria from the list of religious violators by the United States of America, Dr. Owoyemi described it as a welcome development.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement titled: “Religious Freedom Designations,” the U.S. had in 2020 placed Nigeria and six other countries on its special watch list of states that had engaged in or tolerated the severe violation of religious freedom. Nigeria was missing from the list of countries designated in the 2021 list for religious violations.
The U.S. also designated al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.
While expressing delight in the removal of Nigeria from the religious violators’ country, Dr. Owoyemi said the constitution of the country allows for freedom of religion. His words: “We have Christians in all parts of the country. Christianity has faced persecution from the beginning.
The US was right to have removed Nigeria from religious intolerance nation.”
The Cleric also ruled out the possibility of turning the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) into a political party. He however said the organization would put pressure on the government to do the right thing for its citizens. Pointedly, he said Christian leaders would not allow the association to be politicized.
At the annual convention of the Church, Dr. Owoyemi said the United Apostolic Church of Christ, a Christian denomination of the Apostolic order, was established in 1965 after a few men of God were inspired by the Holy Spirit to start the Church.
He said the convention with the title “Good Shepherd“ marks his one year in office as the President and General Overseer of the Church.