In what come as reaction, the Federal Government hit back at the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr.Matthew Kukah on Saturday for suggesting that there would have been a military coup or a war in the country if a non-Northern Muslim leader had practised a fraction of the alleged nepotism indulged in by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although the minister mentioned no name in his statement, it was clear he was responding to the issues raised by Kukah in his Christmas message released on Friday.
Several groups and individuals joined the fray on Saturday, some supporting Kukah and others speaking in favour of the President.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) believes that Kukah did not say anything new, and asked the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to take the criticism as a wake-up call.
Mohammed, in his statement on Saturday, asked religious leaders in the country to “refrain from stoking the embers of hatred and disunity.”
He warned that “resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences.”
He said while religious leaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not come “wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony.”
He added: “It is particularly graceless and impious for any religious leader to use the period of Christmas, which is a season of peace, to stoke the embers of hatred, sectarian strife and national disunity.
”Calling for a violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government, no matter how disguised such a call is, and casting a particular religion as violent is not what any religious leader should engage in, and certainly not in a season of peace.
“While some religious leaders, being human, may not be able to disguise their national leadership preference, they should refrain from stigmatising the leader they have never supported anyway, using well-worn and disproved allegations of nepotism or whatever.”
The minister said whatever challenges Nigeria may be going through at this moment can only be tackled when all leaders and indeed all Nigerians come together; not when some people “arrogantly” engage in name-calling and finger-pointing.