22 Christian groups kick, say Sultan can’t declare public holiday
A coalition of 22 Christian groups led by the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) have alleged that the declaration of September 12 as public holiday in commemoration of Eid-El-Kabir celebration by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, was not proper.
The group claimed that a similar incident took place in July 2016, when Christian organisations criticised the extension of public holiday by the Federal Government over the non-sighting of the moon by the Sultan.
In a statement by the chairman of NCEF, Mr. Solomon Asemota (SAN) yesterday, on behalf of the coalition in Abuja, the group argued that it was “very improper for the head of the Islamic faith in Nigeria to announce, declare, or extend public holidays.”
However when The Guardian asked Asemota if he was aware that the Sultan only declared September 12 as Eidel-Kabir and never made mention of public holiday, Asemota replied, “Is this the first time we are having such holiday in Nigeria?”
The statement entitled: “Is the Federal Government abdicating its responsibility”, read in part, “Following the controversy that surrounded the extension of the Eid el-Fitri Public Holiday by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III in July 2016, we are amazed that there has been an escalation of the impropriety.
“We unequivocally wish to state that it is very improper for the head of the Islamic faith in Nigeria to announce, declare, or extend public holidays. This is the function of the Federal Government and need not be abdicated. This kind of anomalous development has not been taking place in Nigeria until the advent of the Buhari Administration, which has gone to great lengths to deepen religious divide and tension in Nigeria.
“Again, we have no objection whatsoever to the Muslim public holiday but our concern is that in a secular society as enshrined in Section 10 of the Constitution, the responsibility of declaring or announcing a religious public holiday is vested in the Federal Government and such responsibility is sacrosanct.”