The Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) on Sunday in Ibadan called on politicians, religious leaders and the electorate to thread with caution as the 2019 general elections approach.
The group made the call while briefing newsmen at the end of its Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Ibadan.
Prof. Dawud Noibi, Executive Secretary of MUSWEN, told newsmen that several issues had dominated public discourse across the nation since the beginning of the year and MUSWEN was worried by the undue politicisation of many of the issues by religious, ethnic and political leaders.
Noibi, however, called on all Nigerians irrespective of religious belief to bear in mind the need to continue to live together in peace and harmony.
“Contest for political positions should not be a do-or-die affair and should rather be a contest of ideas about building a better future for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Politicians must conduct themselves in a decent manner and not turn Nigeria into a battle zone.
“ They must remember that only Allah can grant power and authority to whoever He wills.
“ We call on all politicians, religious leaders and the electorate to eschew violence in whatever form because the nation can only make progress in an atmosphere of peace,’’ Noibi said.
Noibi also called on former political leaders, especially Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Theophilus Danjuma, to exercise restraint as elder statesmen in their comments.
He further warned the youths to be wary of inflammatory remarks, saying they should rather work for the peace of the country.
Noibi commended the efforts of the Federal Government in securing the release of the Dapchi school girls, adding that the support and prayers of well-meaning Nigerians were instrumental in ensuring their safe return.
The group also prayed for the repose of the souls of the five girls who lost their lives during the abduction saga.
“We are, however, disturbed by the report that the Boko Haram group continues to hold hostage the only non-Muslim girl among the abductees, Leah Sharibu, who is said to have refused to convert to Islam.
“We want to reiterate the fact that Islam forbids forceful conversion of non-Muslim to Islam and enjoins respect for people of the book.
“We condemn the action of some Christian leaders and elders who have politicised this sad development which has nothing to do with Islam.
“We declare for the umpteenth time that Boko Haram group does not represent Islam and the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Dignitaries at the press conference included Alhaji Sakariyau Babalola, the President of MUSWEN and Mr Abdul Jabbaar Ajibola, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of MUSWEN.