*As SGF urges religious leaders to be circumspect, guarded in their utterances
By Luminous Jannamike
Miffed by the many protests against perceived religious persecution in the country, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar III, has insisted there is no agenda to exterminate Christians in Nigeria through attacks by Boko Haram insurgents.
He spoke, on Thursday, at the first quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council, NIREC, meeting in Abuja.
However, the royal father acknowledged the insecurity in the land and expressed worry over the sincerity and commitment by members of the Council to religious peace and tolerance.
The Sultan said: “It pains me when we gather at NIREC or other meetings and agree on measures that would promote religious peace, unity and tolerance; but shortly after, you will begin to hear stories of persecution here and there.
“If we go out shouting, marching, dancing and singing that people of a particular religion are being persecuted and killed, you also forgot people of other religions are also affected in the killings by the same enemies of the state.
“We must not allow terrorists to divide us. If we mistakenly do, then we are finished. There is nothing wrong with any religious organisation marching on the street to call for God’s interventions in a particular issue.
“But we shouldn’t make a show of such things because we want to be visible and, therefore, bring more problems to the nation.
“We have been reading and hearing reports about the persecution of Christians in Nigeria and I keep asking myself how? Christians are being killed, Muslims are also being killed and they are all lives created by God.
“For me, there is no persecution of anybody in this country. If you claim there is a persecution of Christians in Nigeria, there would also be claims of persecution of Muslims, but that would not solve the problem.
“People claim they are denied places to build mosques, churches in some parts of the country. But the right thing to do in such cases is to approach relevant authorities and not to make claims of persecution.
“I can quote from now till the next 100 years of things that have been done or not done to Muslims, but we usually approach relevant authorities in ways that we believe would bring solutions to the problems.”
Similarly, the Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, said the claim of persecution of Christians in Nigeria was a hoax by some religious leaders to curry public sympathy.
He appealed to religious leaders to be circumspect and properly guarded in their utterances to avoid inciting the people against themselves.
His words: “Nigeria has recently experienced several challenges, including a spike in banditry, insurgency, kidnappings, killings and drug abuse.
“It’s time for a review of approach and strategy for improved results.”