By Sam Eyoboka
The National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has called on President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to urgently order law enforcement agents to arrest and prosecute sponsors of all religious fundamentalist groups threatening the stability of the country or risk an imminent major religious crisis.
Reacting to recent widely-reported threats by the new leadership of Boko Haram to cause mayhem in designated cities in the South and enthrone Islamic rule in the country, Oritsejafor wondered why security agents had not swiftly moved in to arrest the leaders and forestall a breakdown of law and order in the country.
The cleric said the president should move with precision the same way he did when the six South South governors threatened to pull out of the amnesty deal and assure Nigerians that they can go about their lawful duties in any part of the country where they reside without the fear of molestation.
Oritsejafor wants the government to go beyond repatriation of foreign nationals involved in mindless killing of human beings in the name of religion, saying that all over the world criminals are tried and sent to jail to serve as deterrent to others with similar intents.
He cited a report of 3,500 men and women evacuated from Mokwa in Niger State by a combined team of Police from the Minna to avoid a repeat of the Boko Haram incident, stressing that such fellows should be investigated and prosecuted if any incriminating is found on them.
Oritsejafor recalled that one of the fallouts of the last sectarian crisis in different states of the North that left over 80 persons dead and public buildings and worship centres burnt was ignored several security reports by the SSS about the ignoble activities of the Boko Haram, an Islamic fundamentalist group opposed to Western culture.
According to a statement signed by the clergyman himself and released in Lagos yesterday, the PFN helmsman also condemned what he described as a â€œconspiracy of silenceâ€ that followed the killing of five pastors, many Christians and the torching of churches in the last mayhem in parts of the North, warning that no nation has survived a religious war in recent history.
â€œThere were lavish reports of Police stations and other public installations that were burnt by the fundamentalist group but Nigerians were left in the dark about the mindless assassination of five pastors, several Christians and the torching of a number of Christian worship centres,â€ he said, adding that such conspiracy of silence may not be able to hold back Christian youths in the country.
â€œDoes the government and its security agents expect Northern Christians as well as Southern Christians residing in the North to continually keep silence in the face of constant intimidation and orchestrated plan by some fundamentalists to annihilate Christians or force them to change their faith?â€ he asked.
Oritsejafor therefore called on the security agents in the country to move fast and arrest these agents of destabilisation before any major breakdown of law and order in parts of a country that is already grappling with a myriad of socio-political problems, adding â€œa stitch in time, they say, saves nine.â€
He also used the occasion to reiterate his call on the 17 southern governors to immediately rise up and make efforts to dialogue with their 19 northern counterparts and find a peaceful way out of this constant religious intolerance in the North for the benefit of their citizens residing in that region.
â€œThe nationâ€™s 1999 constitution recognises that Nigeria is a secular state where no religion is superior to the other, therefore for the stability of the country we must all make deliberate efforts to allow peace reign in every part of the country,â€ he added.
Oritsejafor recalled his earlier call on the new Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo to ensure that he re-orientate his officers and men to be proactive in their policing which is the cardinal ingredient of modern policing all over the world.
â€œThe nation belongs to all of us irrespective of ethnic or religious background,â€ he said while urging all Christians in the country to constantly pray for the peace of the nation.