Bishop Kukah and President Muhammadu Buhari [Photo: Peoples Gazette].

The Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Kukah and the presidency at the weekend resumed their bashing match, with the former accusing the latter of investing billions of naira in rehabilitating and releasing alleged repentant Boko Haram insurgents while neglecting victims of insurgency.

Late last year, the cleric bashed the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, accusing it of nepotism which would have triggered a coup if it was a non-northerner that dared to do half of what the incumbent has done, an attack that elicited reaction nationwide mostly from Muslim groups condemning his assertion. An Islamic cleric had threatened to crucify him should he berate the president again.

Reacting at the time, the presidency said although Mr Kukah has the right to air his view about its principal’s administration, he offended many in doing so.

In his 2021 Easter message, the Sokoto Bishop lamented the neglect of Boko Haram victims by the Buhari government while repentant Boko Haram insurgents are rehabilitated and freed.

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“Sadly, human life is hemorrhaging so badly in Nigeria, but the greatest tragedy is the death of empathy from those in power,” Kukah said. “Mysteriously, the government is investing billions of naira in rehabilitating so-called Boko Haram repentant members and their other partners in crime, in the belief that they want to turn a new leaf.

“These criminals have waged war against their country, murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructure and rendered entire families permanently displaced and dislocated. Why should rehabilitating the perpetrator be more important than bringing succour to the victims? When kidnapped or killed, victims and their families are left to their wits. They cry alone, bury their loved ones alone. And our government expects us to be patriotic?

“On May 29, 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), at his swearing-in as President of Nigeria, said: Boko Haram is a typical case of small fires causing large fires. Now, before his watch, the fires are consuming the nation, and in many instances, they indeed start small,” Mr Kukah said.

Responding, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the cleric’s recent comments portrays him as ungodly and accused him of lying.

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“But, in saying that the Boko Haram terrorism is worse than it was in 2015, he did not speak like a man of God,” Mr Shehu said in a Sunday statement. “But if you profess to being a man of God, as Father Mathew Hassan Kukah does, ideology should not stand in the way of facts and fairness.

Father Kukah has said some things that are inexplicable in his Easter message. But, in saying that the Boko Haram terrorism is worse than it was in 2015, he did not speak like a man of God.

“Kukah should go to Borno or Adamawa to ask the citizens there the difference between 2014 and 2021,” Mr Shehu added.

He also rejected claims that his principal’s administration neglected victims of insurgency.

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“An administration that has created a whole ministry, for the first time in the country’s history, appropriating enormous resources to it, to deal with issues of internally displaced persons cannot, in all rightfulness, be accused of not caring for them,” he added.

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