Vice President of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Senator Joseph Waku, has described the defence of the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, by the Middle Belt Youth Forum as “irresponsible.”
In his reaction to criticisms from the Forum on Monday, on his comments against Oritsejafor, Waku said he sympathised with the group, adding, “I do not join issues with people who are full of emotions rather than principles.”
Waku represented Benue North/West Senatorial District from 1999 to 2003 in the Senate.
He had criticised Oritsejafor’s recent presentation before a Committee of the United States Congress on Violence in Nigeria, where he urged the lawmakers to designate the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, as a terrorist organisation.
The ex-lawmaker had argued that Orisejafor’s comment was capable of causing more disaffection among Nigerians.
Waku said he did not speak in his capacity as the vice chairman of the ACF, adding that he was free to take a position on any national issues.
He said he did not need to take permission from “an irresponsible and self-style organisation like the Middle Belt Youth Forum.”
He added, “I do not belong to any religious organisation than to make comment and advise religious leaders.
“It was not the CAN I challenged. I challenged the comments made by the Reverend (Oritsejafor). If he had made it in his private capacity, I would still challenge him. Any meaningful Nigerian, irrespective of his religion, would agree with me.
“I am surprised that the youth forum did not read the comment made by the American Congress in respect of this man’s request. They said they were not designating Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation but individuals.”
“So, it is the same reasons that I gave three months ago that the American Congress gave; that Boko Haram has several versions. There is the criminal Boko Haram, there is economic Boko Haram and there is political Boko Haram.
“If the so called Middle Belt Youth Forum had read their statistics since the inception of Boko Haram, can they give me the total number of people Boko Haram has killed? How many Christians and Muslims?”
According to his calculation as at February, 2012, Boko Haram had killed about 2,500 people, out of which Muslims were over 2,000.