By Sam Eyoboka
LAGOS—THE Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, may soon pull out of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, NIREC, established to mediate on the incessant ethno-religious crises in the country.
The threat to pull out of the body emerged after an emergency meeting by some leaders in the Christian Community who were protesting the shabby and unequal treatment meted to CAN leadership by the co-chair of the Council which had rendered NIREC docile since 2013 despite the rising phenomenon of insurgency in the country.
The protesters accused the leadership of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, of deliberately avoiding meeting with her Christian counterparts because they could not tolerate the gut of the CAN president.
The Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, (NIREC), a voluntary association made up of 50 members, (25 Christians and 25 Muslims) was inaugurated on September 29, 1999 by the representatives of the two principal religions—Christianity and Islam in Nigeria.
Feelers emanating from a close inside source revealed that the inter-religious body established to provide religious leaders and traditional rulers with a veritable platform to promote greater interaction and understanding among the leadership and their followers as well as lay foundations for sustainable peace and religious harmony in Nigeria may be heading for extinction.
A reliable source close to CAN Secretariat in Abuja told reporters yesterday that the 25 Christian members may soon disengage from NIREC as a result of the disrespectful and shabby treatment meted to the leadership of CAN by the co-chair and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.
NIREC is co-chaired by the President-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor respectively with Professor Is-haq Oloyede, as its National Coordinator/Executive Secretary.
The source claimed that the last straw that broke the carmels back can be traced to a meeting of NIREC which was scheduled for Abuja on February 9, after about years of silence but was unceremoniously cancelled by the Sultan after Christian leaders including an 80-year- old member had arrived Abuja on February 8.
“Christian leaders from different parts of the country had flown into Abuja where we were supposed to meet only to hear that the meeting has been cancelled,” the source said.