…Says Nigeria on descent to anarchy; makes U-turn, accuses CAN leaders who staged prayer walk against insecurity of hypocrisy, blame game
…Insists more Muslims are victims of Boko Haram than Christians
…Buhari wrong; killing of any individual should be condemned — Atiku
…NSCIA being illogical, CAN fires back
By Dirisu Yakubu & Luminous Jannamike
Miffed by the upsurge in terrorist activities across the country, the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare state of emergency on security.
The council, under the leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, made the call at a world press conference in Abuja, yesterday.
Its position came as former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and his party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, asked President Buhari to apologize to Nigerians for declaring that more Muslims than Christians have been killed by Boko Haram since insurgency started in the country 10 years ago.
According to Atiku, President Buhari got it all wrong, as the killing of any individual no matter the faith he/she professes is wrong.
But the NSCIA lamented the killings and bloodshed in the land, describing them as appalling and horrific.
The umbrella Muslim body also slammed religious leaders who rallied last Sunday in a prayer walk against terror, saying their actions, though constitutional, bore marks of childish blame game and hypocrisy.
While not directly agreeing with President Buhari’s claim that 90 per cent of Boko Haram victims were Muslims, the NSCIA said it was incontrovertible that less Christians had been killed and displaced by the terrorists than Muslims.
State of emergency
Speaking on behalf of the apex Islamic body, Yusuf Nwoha, NSCIA’s Director of Administration, said: “These days, hardly does a day pass without some heart-rending news about kidnapping, violent attacks and savage killings of innocent Nigerians.
“The level of insecurity in the country has reached an unacceptable crescendo that declaring a state of emergency on it appears not only necessary but also pressing.
“Therefore, the Council calls on the Federal Government and all its agencies to use whatever means possible to arrest this descent into anarchy.
“The situation in Nigeria is desperate and desperate situations require desperate measures in the collective interest of well-meaning Nigerians.
“Let the monster of insecurity be tackled actively and proactively with the full weight of Nigeria’s security and defence capacity.”
Blasts Church leaders who led prayer walk against terrorism
Admitting the need for divine intervention in tackling Nigeria’s security challenges, the NSCIA condemned the demonstration led by prominent Christian leaders, saying it was a street show staged to score cheap political points.
The group said: “It is rather discomforting that some misguided elements in our country have resorted to the dangerous game of playing politics with security.
“Political mercenaries and religious combatants united by rapacious greed and chronic hatred have occupied the public space with putrid writings and toxic speeches.
“For the sake of fleeting popularity and Twitter-trending, some public figures with ulterior motives offer themselves as willing tools in the hands of disgruntled politicians to play politics without remembering that when the fire they are stoking becomes an uncontrollable conflagration, there would be nowhere for them to play their politics as the nation would have been consumed.
“In essence, rather than see the monstrosity that insecurity has become as a national challenge that requires collective action, agents of destabilization seek to score cheap political goals and engage in self-indicting propaganda.
“One of them is the recently organized street show by some religious leaders who give political coloration to grinding security fueled by hypocrisy and hubris.
“But efforts must be doubled through the instrumentality of hard work and prayers so that the enemies of Nigeria will be unveiled and this is where government must double or triple its efforts at counter-insecurity measures.”
More Muslims victims of Boko Haram than Christians
The NSCIA also dismissed insinuations that Boko Haram terrorists are the mask of Islamists to eliminate Christians, saying the insurgents are rogues merely pursuing venal agenda far removed from Islam.
“It is the height of insincerity, wickedness, falsehood and hypocrisy to suggest that Boko Haram is a ploy to eliminate Christians, a dummy being promoted by some leaders camouflaging as religious leaders and their followers and the outside world.
“It is incontrovertible that more Muslims, including imams, have been slaughtered, displaced, and dismembered than Christians since Boko Haram became what it is- a hydra-headed monster.
“Indeed, more mosques have been bombed or destroyed in the bloody campaign which has consumed precious lives including those of our professors.
“To suggest that Christians are killed because they refused to embrace Islam stands logic on its head. Were Muslim scholars and individuals killed in mosques, markets squares, and villages killed because they refused to denounce Islam?
“Christians have been known to engage in terrorism in Nigeria, with a view to blaming it on Muslims. Only cases of failed ones are known. They commit murder, engage in kidnapping and resort to heinous propaganda to put Nigeria and its Muslim population on the defensive.
“Their media wing distorts news and skew reports to reveal and project their Islamophobia but the voiceless Muslims have Allah and He is sufficient.”
NSCIA being illogical — CAN
Replying the NSCIA last night, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said the apex Muslim body was being illogical in its assertions.
CAN’s National Director, Legal and Public Affairs, Evang Kwamkur Vondip, who reacted on behalf of the Christian body, said with sarcasm that NSCIA was also playing politics with security.
He maintained that Boko Haram is an Islamic group on a mission to exterminate Christians, considering its full names, statement of purpose, leadership structure and modus operandi.
CAN said: “We commend NSCIA’s call for declaration of State of Emergency on security. It is good and commendable.
“However, on the issue of church leaders playing politics with the grinding insecurity, the Muslim body contradicted itself. We shall be right to also say the NSCIA is playing politics with security when they urged President Buhari to declare a state of emergency on the situation.
“CAN and NSCIA are saying the same thing on the need for government to show more concern on the state of insecurity. What we, as a Christian body, is shouting from the mountain tops down to the lowest valleys is that there is a heightened level of insecurity in the land and the government appears not to care, claiming they are on top of the situation, even when Nigerians keep dying every day.
“So, we believe, the issue of church leaders being hired as mercenaries to play politics with security is highly misplaced and wish not to join issues with our Muslim counterparts on that.
“On the issue of Christians terrorizing Nigerians and blaming it on Boko Haram; if history is something to go by, it is on multiple records that Boko Haram took years to form under the tutelage of a prominent Islamic scholar in Borno. And when he died, there was seamless succession to power within the organization.
“When the Islamic group started terrorizing Nigerians, they told the nation that they are a religious group with full name as Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid Da’wah was’ Jihad (meaning Jihad Brigade), and on a mission to islamize the country.
“They said they would destroy Christians who failed to accept Islam, security agencies unwilling to cooperate with their agenda, and fellow Muslims who betray the interests of the group in order to achieve their sole objective.
“So, we make bold to say Boko Haram is a Muslim group. They kill by chanting Quranic phrases. The insurgents have never killed saying ‘in the name of Jesus.’
“Let’s not forget how they also abduct Christian girls and boys, forcefully convert them to Islam and hang suicide vests on them to go and destroy Nigerians in both Christian and Muslim places of worship. All we are saying is that solid evidence abound that Boko Haram is an organized Muslim group.”
We must not rationalize killings— Atiku, PDP
Meanwhile, reacting yesterday to the President’s claim, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, said on his Facebook wall: “We must not rationalize killings. Whether Christian, Muslim, Traditionalist, or Atheist, the killing of any human being by Boko Haram or any other misguided group, is wrong and should be condemned unequivocally. There is no compulsion in religion, only love.”
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, described President Buhari’s remark as a divisive statement capable of endangering peace in the land.
Writing as guest opinion columnist for Christianity Today, President Buhari had said: “It is the reality that some 90 per cent of all Boko Haram’s victims have been Muslims. They include a copycat abduction of over 100 Muslim schoolgirls, along with their single Christian classmate; shootings inside mosques, and the murder of two prominent Imams.”
In a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said: “The killing of any compatriot anywhere by terrorists or bandits, irrespective of religion, ethnicity or class, can never be rationalized under any guise whatsoever.
“The party says Mr. President’s disturbing statement shows that the Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress, APC, attach no value to the lives of Nigerians as well as further exposes their manifest lack of capacity and commitment to effectively tackle the worsened security situation under President Buhari’s watch.
“Our party holds that for President Buhari, a Commander-in-Chief, who promised to fight from the fronts and now holds all the paraphernalia of power; and on whose shoulders the security of the nation rests, to make such a statement leaves no one in doubt that the Buhari Presidency has reached its wits end, exhausted its propaganda and has no solutions to offer.
“It is instructive for the Buhari Presidency to note that rather than engaging in lame attempt at rationalizing failure, the expectation of Nigerians is for it to take decisive steps, track down and vanquish terrorists who resurged in our country after Mr. President took over as Commander-in-Chief.
“More distressing is that Mr. President’s divisive comment is coming at a time all well-meaning Nigerians, irrespective of religion, partisan and sectional interests, are rallying, following calls by patriotic individuals and groups, particularly the PDP, to find solution to the worsening security challenges under the APC administration .
“President Buhari and the APC must know that every life is precious, irrespective of religion, and that this obnoxious body count as rationalization for failure is completely unacceptable.
“The PDP notes that with such dismal attitude, Nigerians have lost all confidence in the commitment of the APC administration to find solution to security challenges under its watch.
“The party, therefore, counsels President Buhari to immediately apologize for his comments, accept failure, rejig his security high command and engage more competent hands to effectively tackle the security challenges.
“Indeed, what Nigerians want to hear from President Buhari is the apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators of mass killings in Benue, Plateau, Kogi, Niger, Yobe, Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and other states of the nation where communities were pillaged under his watch.”