By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Bashir Adefaka & Luminous Jannamike
.Buhari is a nominal Muslim, not committed to any group —Shi’ites
.NCEF’s petition to UK Parliament intended to inflame Nigerians —NASFAT
.Petition by Christian elders, prank to score cheap political points —MPAC
.Presidency source: UK trip, waste of time; Afenifere, CAN, Ohanaeze react
ABUJA—SEVERAL Islamic scholars and groups in Nigeria have dismissed as false, allegations that President Muhammadu Buhari is pursuing a Jihad in the country and not serious about tackling insecurity, saying those making those claims do not understand him, religion-wise.
A Presidency source also in a reaction yesterday, described as a useless waste of time, efforts by the Christian elders to petition the Uk Parliament, accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of not only pursuing a jihad or islamisation agenda, but also not tackling insecurity arising from Boko Haram insurgency and herdsmen/farmers clashes.
According to the Islamic groups and clerics, President Buhari is not affiliated to any known local Muslim group and could not have been promoting an Islamisation agenda in a vacuum.
The Nigerian Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, had made the allegations in a petition to the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion, APPG, in the United Kingdom, quoting several pre-2015 comments of President Buhari supporting Sharia movement.
However, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, the Nasrul lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria, NASFAT, and the Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, and the Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria, MUSWEN, in separate interviews with Vanguard, yesterday, described the position of the Christian elders as an international prank intended to incite the people and score cheap political points for the NCEF.
NCEF lacks understanding of Buhari, Jihad — Shi’ites
Sheikh Sidi Munir, a renowned Islamic scholar of the IMN, said: “Those Christian elders appear not to have a good understanding of the real meaning of Jihad.
“Many Muslim scholars are in good terms with many Christian clerics and elders in Nigeria. We won’t expect Christian religious leaders, who share common spiritual understanding with their counterparts on the Muslim side to take the same position as the NCEF because they have a better notion of Islam, and Jihad. That is why we cooperate very well with them on many fronts, even till today.
“The NCEF also seems to lack very good understanding of President Buhari religion-wise. If they did, they wouldn’t be attributing Islamisation agenda or Jihad to him the way they are going about it.
“We can tell you that President Buhari is considered in many Islamic circles as a Muslim only by name. Honestly, he is seen as a nominal Muslim because a committed Islamist will not unjustly detain Muslim clerics and his religious brethren, even in defiance of the courts.
“If they had observed President Buhari very carefully, they would have known that he is neither affiliated to any of the Islamic groups in Nigeria nor has sentimental attachments to even one of them.
“Whatever you see him do is not in the name of Islam but for political expediency. He simply does what he thinks will keep him in continued stay in power.”
NCEF’s petition to UK Parliament intended to incite Nigerians — NASFAT
On his part, the media officer of NASFAT, Mallam Ibrahim Aselemo, described the petition by NCEF as laughable, adding that it was intended to incite Christians against the Buhari government.
He said: “The comment by the Christian elders, to say the least, is laughable and malicious. In fact, it is treacherous and pedestrian. It is intended to cause a major disharmony and disquiet in Nigeria.
“There is no such thing as a Jihad going on in Nigeria anywhere. Yes, there are pockets of violence here and there and it is not peculiar to Nigeria even in the most sophisticated and policed states.
“It can be seen that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is doing everything, using what they have, to contain the situation.
“So, the remarks by the NCEF is unbecoming of an organization that is made of elders as it were. One expects them to exhibit a high sense of responsibility when making comments on serious issues such as insecurity.
“These comments, I think, are intended to inflame Nigerians and cause major disharmony between Christians and Muslims. It should be jettisoned and taken with a pinch of salt.”
It’s a prank to score cheap political points — MPAC
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Muslim Public Affairs Centre, Disu Kamor, said the petition by NCEF was an international prank to score cheap political points for the Christian elders.
Kamor, who said it was shameful for the Christian elders to run to Nigeria’s colonial master for almost every challenge facing the country, claimed that NCEF knew nothing good will come out of the petition but wrote it anyway as an act of mischief.
He said: “The Christian elders don’t require any response but as citizens living in Nigeria, who are eyewitnesses to the insecurity in the country, we need to make the world understand that the challenge we are facing as a nation is not Jihad.
“It is quite customary for this Christian elders to put up this kind of prank on the international community in order to try and win some political points locally.
“The Christian dominated South can readily admit they have not been victims of targeted attacks in their own region. The natural main casualties of the kinds of violence we have seen recently in this country are the Muslims in the North. It is commonsensical to reach this conclusion.
“It is clear to all and sundry that NCEF is agenda-driven and that it belittles us as a nation to run to our colonial masters of many decades for every problem we have today. No other country does this in modern times. The UK also has its own large scale problems but they don’t run to us for solutions. They look within.
“The Christian elders are, at best, being mischievous because they know nothing good can come out of their petitions to the UK parliamentary group.
“Nigerians, including the Muslims, have suffered immeasurably from the indiscriminate violence and terror threats in the country. But the Muslims have never blamed the Nigerian Christians for any of these criminal activities.
“As a people of common destiny, we need to understand we are capable of sinking under the yoke of this present insecurity. So, we need to salvage it together as Christians and Muslims side-by-side.
“Nigerians should neither pay attention to the infantile behaviour of members of NCEF or attach seriousness to it.”
Muslim leaders ask UK to discountenance claims
Similarly, some notable Muslim leaders described the Christian elders’ claim as fictitious and should be discountenanced.
Those who shared this view were Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria MUSWEN, Professor Daud Noibi; Professor of Law and renowned Islamic scholar, Professor Abdul-Razaq Abdul-Majeed Alaro, and Director and Founder of the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
In a statement, Professor Noibi said: “My response is that the Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria, MUSWEN, regard the allegation unfortunate, baseless and unpatriotic because we have not seen anything President Buhari has done that is tilting towards Muslims alone or the Fulani. Rather, we have seen a visionary leader that has set development for the various groups in the country.
“Unfortunately, this allegation came from a group that regard itself as group of religious leaders but my appeal to Nigerian Muslims and Christians is to discountenance the allegation and I believe that the British government will discountenance it.
‘’Knowing full well that the British government is balanced about matters across the world, they will not attach importance to the claim of the Nigerian Christians Elders’ Forum.”
Taking a swipe at the Christian Elders’ Forum, Professor Alaro, a lawyer, said: “Reacting directly to those elders reporting Nigeria to the foreign communities, I think we should remind ourselves that Nigeria is a sovereign state and that is clearly stated in our constitution.
‘’In Section 2 sub-section 1 of the constitution, it is categorically stated that Nigeria is a sovereign state. I don’t know what wisdom they will claim to have reporting a sovereign nation to another sovereign nation. Nigeria is no more a colonised entity of Britain. So, I will fault the action on that ground as well.
“It is very unfortunate that elders who are supposed to douse tension are the ones to heat up the polity. I believe the act is very wrong. You cannot report a sovereign state to another sovereign entity. But I think the summary of it all is for us to be realistic as Nigerians.
‘’We shouldn’t expect any nation in the world to preoccupy itself with our problems, unless we are deceiving ourselves. Even if we have problems, we should look for ways of solving our problems within ourselves. We are ridiculing ourselves by taking our problems to other countries.
‘’Today whether you like it or not, the President is the first citizen of the country and he represents us. Whatever respect we accord him, whatever disrespect or contempt we give to him is equally given to us as Nigerians.
‘’So, I don’t think it is wise for us to think of solving Nigeria’s problem by taking it to a foreign country. I think whatever is happening, if you look at those elders, these are people that had wielded a lot of influence in the past.
‘’I would, therefore, appeal to them as elders that they must know more than whatever the younger generations know. It is a common phenomenon if you have power today, you may lose it tomorrow.
“So, because you have lost something, Nigeria and Nigerians must be victims of your loss of power, of your loss of influence. I am appealing to them to try and bequeath a peaceful nation to us, especially the youth.
“This issue of Islamisation agenda has been on and off and nobody has been able to prove it. And it is even an abstract idea to me to say that a President or government can Islamise or Christianise the whole nation. It is not possible.’’
In like manner, MURIC leader, Professor Akintola, dismissed the Christian Elders’ Forum as a pack of liars for saying President Buhari has done nothing to stop Boko Haram insurgency, noting that under Muhammadu Buhari, since 2015, Boko Haram “has moved from daily bombing, to weekly, monthly and now we hear nothing of bombing again.
‘’Before Buhari came, Boko Haram occupied 27 local government areas in the North-East and today, no single local government is occupied by Boko Haram.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency source in a reaction yesterday, described the action of the Christian elders as a waste of time.
An official of the Presidency, who preferred anonymity, said: “Is Nigeria still under colonization? Why are they taking internal matter to London? Will the Queen take cane and whip us. It is a useless waste of time.”
The elder statesmen have done well—Afenifere
Meanwhile, commending the elder statesmen, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere said it is a right step in the right direction.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “It is a right step in the right direction. It is already quarter to midnight in Nigeria and as the constructor of Nigeria, Britain should be interested in the consequences of the disaster clock hitting midnight in the country.
“Only those completely drained of human virtues would be at ease with what is going on in Nigeria now. The elder statesmen have done exceedingly well.”
NCEF did not speak for us —CAN
On its part, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said the members of NCEF did not speak for the umbrella Christian body.
CAN Spokesman, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, recalled that the Christian elders were declared persona-non grata by the Church in Nigeria last year over their activities against the leadership of CAN.
“NCEF is on its own. They are not speaking for the umbrella Christian body in Nigeria. CAN is not part of NCEF and vice versa. We are not together,” he told Vanguard.
Reacting to the position of Christian Elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo through its spokesman, Chuks Ibegbu said the position of Christain Elders cannot be dismissed easily.
“Their fear is palpable. What is happening nowadays appear to be a second Jihad but we pray it doesn’t escalate beacause Nigeria remains a secular nation.
“Jihad cannot succeed in a secular nation. What we need today is economic and developmental Jihad and not a religious one. We want the Talakawas to wage a mental Jihad against depression by ruthless elite especially in the north. Nigerian youths should wage an ICT and economic Jihad for escape from poverty.”