… renew call for change of Service Chiefs
By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA: Religious clerics in Nigeria have appealed to the abductors of Leah Sharibu to release her without further delay.
The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Nigeria, Reverend Yakubu Pam and the Chief Imam of Apo Legislative Quarters, Sheikh Mohmamed Khalid made the appeal at a press conference on the sidelines of the Interfaith Conference in Abuja on Friday.
“We are here today, the two major religions in Nigeria, Christianity and Islam. The leaders are here and traditional rulers are also here to discuss about peace ahead of the 2019 general elections and we also find it very important today to address a burning issue that has been disturbing the peace of the country and that is the issue of the abduction of some of our innocent teenagers and young ladies, particularly Leah Sharibu and others and we have heard what the abductors have said.
“We are here as religious leaders and traditional rulers to appeal to the conscience of the abductors of these innocent girls. I know too the mothers have also cried, the families have cried to the abductors of these innocent girls and well-meaning citizens of Nigeria have also cried. We want to appeal to them, please for the sake of God, let them release these innocent girls. They are very innocent and I believe that by doing this Nigeria will appreciate,” Reverend Pam said.
‘‘We are aware that the President has made a call to Leah’s mother and also heard about threats from abductors, that is why we find it necessary to make a conscience call to abductors, adding our voice to other peace loving Nigerians saying let this girl and other innocent girls be released.
‘‘My concern for Leah is that they were abducted together the same day, some other were released, and it happened that this one was not realized. The enemies of this country will paint the issue into religion, that is why leaders of all religions came out this morning to say, we want Leah Sharibu out so that the world will know that religion will never be used to break us. Assuming she was released with other, we s would not be here. It is important that she is released because it is disturbing the peace of the country.’’
He called on the abductors of Miss Sharibu to abandon their threat of executing the girl in order the save her family from the agony of losing a child in such a violent circumstance.
“We heard they said next week is their deadline and that is why in this meeting as we are discussing about the peace of this country, we felt that it is very important and very paramount to talk about this matter. The mother is in agony, the family is in agony and we are appealing to their conscience. Whatever it is, let them be lenient and also allow God to speak to their heart,” he stated.
Reverend Pam also called on the government to do whatever it can within its powers to ensure Miss Sharibu is safely released and reunited with her family.
In his remarks, the Chief Imam of Apo Legislative Quarters, Sheikh Khalid said the abductors of Miss Sharibu are on their own and they do not represent Islam.
“We are here to speak on behalf of the bodies of the two main religions, Islam and Christianity. We want the world to understand that these people that are holding our children and other people in captivity are not representing anything, they are on their own. Islam is not asking them to abduct anybody and we the Muslims are going to join hands with anybody to do anything possible to secure Nigerians from their agony.’’
He said the abductors of Miss Sharibu have no basis to hold her captive since her colleagues whom they were abducted together were released.
The Islamic cleric therefore appealed to the Federal Government to do whatever is necessary and secure the release of Miss Sharibu.
“We are appealing to the government to do anything possible to make sure that no Nigerian is in captivity. Government have not done enough to secure the release of the girls, that is why we are insisting that no Nigerian should be in captivity or abducted, we want peace in Nigeria and we want government to ensure the security of every Nigeria, especially the girls child.
‘‘My message to Boko Haram is to fear Almighty Allah and release those in their captivity and also, let them embrace peace by coming to round table with government and discuss what they want and how do they want the government to do. And let them give conditions that are realistic.
We are appealing to them to rethink and revisit their minds so that they will release their captives, especially somebody like Leah Sharibu,” Sheikh Khalid said.
On the fight against insurgency, the Sheik said: ‘‘The security agencies claim they are doing their best to end insurgency, but unfortunately for us, their best is not enough. The young soldiers are crying for their welfare, their needs should be catered for so that they can serve their fatherland with full commitment.’’
On the call for change of service chiefs, Rev. Pam said: ‘‘Yes, it is good for government to look at other areas. We have also made that calls earlier, that they should look at the issue of Service Chiefs to be able to meet up with yearnings of Nigerians in order to reflect the Federal Character Principle and other undermined interests not captured in the present constitution of the Service Chief. We have written to the President, gone to him and believe he will do it.
‘‘I believe the fight against Insurgency might be going on, there might be challenges, we all need to put our heads together in order to help Nigeria survive in this effort. Government and security agencies have a duty to end the insurgency so that we can have peace.’’
On the role religion will play in the coming elections, he said: ‘‘Our position on the elections is let it go according to laws and order, we will not want to witness a breakdown of law. Let there be a peaceful conduct of election towards the action.
‘’This event came at the right time because this is the time Nigerians are planning for a very big election in 2019. We must begin to discuss as a family, discuss factors that can generate crisis. This programme is timely, very important and can kick off an engagement for political leaders.’’