The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, has said that his visit to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which saw him pray for recently released detainees – Reuben Abati, Femi Fani-Kayode, and Musilliu Obanikoro – was not planned.
Kukah had visited the custody of the EFCC, in Abuja, where he prayed for the trio.
Kukah explained that he was on a visit to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, to invite him for an event when he decided to pray with some detainees not knowing the prominent Nigerians were there.
“I am not sure of what to say. I really did not imagine that I would be talking about this but since it is now public, let me briefly explain as best as I can,” he told Punch.
“Yes, I went to the EFCC to visit the acting chairman, to invite him for an event with the Kukah Centre. As I got up to leave, I told him I needed to do my spiritual duties and then requested to see the detainees.
“I had no idea where the location of the facility was, nor did I even know who was there. I was out of the country when I heard my friend, Reuben Abati, had been held but I did not know where. I just said I wanted to greet the detainees, whoever they might be.
“Mr. (Ibrahim) Magu then decided to accompany me and Abati was the first person I met as we entered the place. There were about seven or so other young men, none of whom I recognised but I greeted and shook hands with them.
“As I greeted them, Mr. Magu decided to show me their toilet facilities, assuring me that they were up to the standard.
“Abati, who was beside me, answered in the affirmative and I went on to see the showers, which looked quite neat. I was told that (Musiliu) Obanikoro and (Femi) Fani-Kayode were there too but that they were in the clinic. Mr. Magu took me there and we met both of them having a meal.
“They were glad and obviously surprised to see me. We chatted and then, I tried to encourage them, reminding them to trust in God’s will. After that, the four of us prayed together. I blessed them and left.
“As I bade goodbye to Mr. Magu, a young man stepped up to me to ask about my visit. I spoke to him but had no idea it would be news.
“Nonetheless, there is nothing that I regretted saying to him. I had no idea that it would become a media event till someone forwarded the news item to me later that evening.
“It was not meant to be a media event, and I was pleased with Mr. Magu’s courtesy towards me. Trust Nigerians. This has elicited all kinds of reactions, but I am glad even about the publicity that has followed my visit. My conscience is my companion, not the eyes of the public.
“I just call on my fellow Nigerians to know that we all share a common humanity and that there is a distinction between sin and the sinner, and that while people are still under investigation, we must ensure that their integrity is intact until the courts have proven their cases against them. It could be any of us tomorrow.”