BY BEN AGANDE
ABUJA -The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, yesterday, differed on cause of the post-election violence that erupted in some northern states after last April’s presidential election.
While CAN blamed the violence on pre-meditated aggression targeted at Christians and their places of worship, NSCIA blamed it on spontaneous reaction by people against perceived rigging of elections in favour of a particular political party.
The two umbrella bodies for Christians and Muslims spoke when they appeared before the Federal Government’s Committee on Post-election Violence.
National Secretary of CAN, Mr Sani Salisu, who presented CAN’s position yesterday also canvassed creation of Ministry of Religious Affairs to handle incessant religious crisis in the country, especially in the north.
Salisu said alleged comments attributed to presidential candidate of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Gen Mohammadu Buhari, that Muslim Ummah should never allow an infidel rule them again, as well as his comment expressing support for Sharia law, has a “cause and effect relationship” in the resulting conflicts.
He said Christians in the country “have to grapple with thugs who allegedly kill innocent people as they demand to be ruled exclusively by a Muslim. Then they have to deal with terrorists who are bombing churches, demanding imposition of Sharia on the nation and then, there is the CBN governor defying and daring Christians in Nigeria by trying to impose Sharia banking.
“It appears to be same script and unhidden agenda, whether it was miscreants or almajiris, Boko Haram.”
Mr Salisu said attack on Christians in the north over issues not directly related to religion, such as the annulment of June 12, 1993, presidential elections “raises question, whether this was really about Islam or north because southern Muslims live peacefully alongside Christians”.
He accused northern leaders of not exercising authority over their teeming masses.
In his submission, representative of the NSCIA, Dr Salisu Shehu, blamed the immediate cause of the post- election violence on perception that elections were rigged in favour of a particular candidate during the presidential election; use and undue exploitation of incumbency factor to cling to power and publicity given to the willful disregard of the PDP zoning principle after the death of former President Umaru Yar’Adua.
He also accused the media of “gradually deviating from its primary role of educating, enlightening and informing the populace, to platforms for sowing seeds of prejudice, intolerance, hatred and crisis.
“They have replaced objectivity with subjectivity; facts with mendacity and investigative journalism with speculative insinuation. They have succeeded in planting malicious hatred against Muslims and anything Islamic through long term systematic propaganda. They apply selective approach to reporting issues, thereby negatively portraying peace-loving Nigerian Muslims as enemies of peace.
“This malevolent portrayal of Muslims has programmed minds of Christians to erroneous conviction that the only language to speak to Muslims is that of violence. These prejudices make the average Christian jumps into the illogical conclusions that Muslims harbour deep rooted prejudices and hatred against Christians, a perception that leads him to amassing dangerous weapons with which he wreaks havoc on his perceived Muslim enemies at the slightest opportunity.”
He called for a “thorough and unbiased investigation to identify the real culprits/perpetrators of the killings and property destructions before and after the elections and appropriate punitive measures be taken as soon as possible.”