The Nigerian Government has repudiated claims by a group styling itself as Northern Christian Elders Forum, who alleged that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is practicing bigotry and alienating Christians.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.
According to Shehu, the Nigerian Government’s response is contained in a letter to the British Parliamentary Group, signed by Nigeria’s High Commissioner to UK, Mr George Oguntade.
The presidential aide said “Two letters were addressed to Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, a former secretary of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and now Head, “Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Support of Persecuted Christians, “and Baroness Berridge, the Chair of “All Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief.”
Oguntade, in the correspondences, said the Nigerian government strongly dismissed as inconceivable and out-rightly false, allusions to the effect that the Boko Haram terrorism served a government agenda against Christians.
“It would be useful for me to engage with this process to ensure that you are thoroughly briefed on the situation in Nigeria,’’ the High Commissioner wrote in the correspondences.
Responding to the interim report on Foreign and Commonwealth Office Support for Persecuted Christians, Oguntade, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, told Rev. Mounstephen:
“The safety and security of all Nigerians, whatever their faith, is a fundamental priority of the Buhari Government. The government knows that Nigeria can only achieve its potential if there is religious tolerance and cooperation.”
The High Commissioner explained that President Buhari’s deputy is a Pastor, adding that the President “has befriended Church leaders and church groups both within and outside Nigeria.”
He added that the President’s cabinet is balanced between Muslims and Christians, noting that he himself was a former Chancellor of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
According to Justice Oguntade, Vice President Osinbajo has maintained regular contacts with Christian and Muslim leaders as part of efforts to build and sustain interfaith dialogue.
While stressing that the country’s security challenges had no ethnic and religious colourations, the High Commissioner said the farmers/herders clashes predated the Buhari administration.
He noted that such clashes bordered on the desire for pasture by the herders and the desire to protect crops from encroachment and destruction by the farmers.
Oguntade explained that these clashes had a long history and the Buhari administration had taken major step to address the root cause of these crises and violent clashes pitting Muslim and Christian farmers alike against the herders.
According to the High Commissioner, the issue of grazing routes is historically central to these conflicts and the Buhari administration is taking a holistic approach to the matter with a view to ending it once and for all, so that Nigerians can live in peace with one another.
He, therefore, assured the international community that the Buhari Administration would ensure that “the competition over scarce land is resolved peacefully for the benefits of all parties.”
The Nigerian government also rejected attempts by the reporting group to link Boko Haram terrorism with official policy, stating clearly that these violent acts by the terrorist group predated the Buhari administration, like many others that were inherited on coming to office in 2015.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK said criminal groups such as the Boko Haram terrorists “who kill Muslims and Christians do not represent Muslims.
“Boko Haram is a murderous death cult whose savagery has destroyed thousands of lives.
“The Government is totally dedicated to eradicating their stain from our land.
“Since the Buhari administration has been in power, Boko Haram has been significantly degraded – with the support and assistance of the UK Government. We shall not rest until this mission is completed and the people of North East Nigeria – both Christians and Muslims – can live in peace again.’’
The two letters were each accompanied by a copy of an opinion article signed by the President and published on Nov. 30, 2018, by London-based “Church Times,” entitled: `DON’T POLITICISE RELIGION IN NIGERIA’.
In the article, President Buhari, among other things, said Muslims and Christians can flourish together.
“These two great religions (Islam and Christianity) can not only peacefully coexist but flourish together. But we must first turn to one another in compassion. For as Amos teaches us: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to meet?”.
“We must resist the temptation to retreat into our communities because if we do, our palette of possibilities will remain primary. It is only when we mix them together that we can imagine new and greater possibilities.
“As our constitution spells out, politicizing religion should have no place in Nigeria. However, it is all the more reprehensible when in doing so; it feeds fears and plays to man’s baser instincts.
“For it makes us turn away from one another; it makes us retreat into our communities and walk different paths; and it blinds us to each other’s God-given dignity, ” the President said in the article published in Church Times. – Source: NAN
Culled from the Vanguard Newspapers:
A PETITION ADDRESSED TO UK PARLIAMENT BY NIGERIAN CHRISTIAN ELDERS FORUM-Read
THIS ARTICLE IS WORTH READING FOR EVERY LOVER OF HUMANITY.
Insecurity : Danjuma, Lekwot, others take Nigeria’s case to UK
June 6, 2019.
By Clifford Ndujihe & Sam Eyoboka
Former Defence Minister, Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma, retd; former Military Governor of Rivers State, General Zamani Lekwot, retd, and Chief Solomon Asemota, SAN, have told the United Kingdom Parliament that President Muhammadu Buhari was pursuing a jihad or Islamisation agenda and not serious about tackling insecurity arising from Boko Haram insurgency and herdsmen-farmers crises in the country.
The trio acted under the aegis of Nigerian Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, which also has General Joshua Dogonyaro, retd; Justice Kalajine Anigbogu, Elder Matthew Owojaiye, Dr. Kate Okpaleke and Elder Moses Ihonde, as members. The Christian elders, who blamed Lord Lugard for sowing the seed of ethno-religious crises and dichotomy between Northern and Southern Nigeria, and urged deepening of democracy and rejection of sharia, stated their position in a paper dated June 3 to the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, APPG, UK Parliament.
Titled: “Competing Ideologies of Democracy and Sharia in Nigeria; The Nuance Understating of the Drivers of the Conflict in Nigeria by Farmers and Herders,” the paper was in response to the request of the APPG for written submissions to its inquiry on ongoing violence between farmers and herders in Nigeria.
They cited the prevailing waves of insecurity and quoted President Buhari’s pre-2015 comments supporting the sharia movement, “why he could die for the course of Islam, why they could not be blackmailed into killing the sharia idea, why sharia must be spread all over Nigeria, why Boko Haram members should be given VIP treatment and not killed, and why Muslims should only vote for those who will promote Islam” among others to back their claim.
“The action taken so far by the government suggests collusion or cover up by refusing to call jihad by its proper name. When a crime is committed and acts of subjugation and/or humiliation is added such as rape or religious signs or cries, this is jihad. Because the violence is motivated by ideological reasons, action taken by all interested parties must be directed towards the prevention of violence. Bullets do not kill ideology; it is a better ideology over time that can eliminate Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen and this is Democracy,” they said.
The paper read in part: Amalgamation and/or Annexation historic background information
“British man on the spot, Lord Lugard promoted Islam by preventing proselytizing in Muslim areas of Nigeria especially the emirates. Lugard was in love with Muslim North especially the Sultanate of Sokoto, for their contribution towards the war effort. He further created Northern Nigeria Corporation which Turkey did not offer as reasons why the Muslim North was entitled to special treatment and, above all, he (Lugard) was a disgruntled “suitor” who seemed to have lost his faith in Christianity before he got married to Miss Flora Shaw.
He hated educated black people and the South had many of them by 1914 dispensed with during a period of racism. Lugard created Muslim Northern Nigeria and annexed (not amalgamated) Southern Nigeria to provide access to the sea and sustenance for Muslim North. He would rather have traditional leaders to rule, than educated Africans. He ensured this, even after retirement from the colonial services. “At independence, the British saw Islamism creeping into Nigeria and tried to make up with Human Rights in the Constitution.
“At the same time the British government ensured dominance of the North in terms of size as against the South that was divided into East, West and, later Midwest. “Democracy was agreed upon by all the parties, North, East and West during the Independence Conferences but the Intelligence Department was structured to promote Sharia as an alternative source of legislation.
“At independence in 1960, the first law enacted by the Parliament was the Emergency Act of 1961. This was a strange way of celebrating freedom. This law was followed by a contrived Emergency in Western Region in 1963 resulting in the Western crisis of 1965 and the coup of January and July 1966. The July coup was a jihad that resulted in the killing of innocent Nigerians especially the Ndigbo who were mainly Christians.
This jihad resulted in the pogrom that led to the Civil War of 1967 – 1970. The jihad continued with the Maitatsine riots which was supposed to be between Muslim sects but in reality provided an excuse to attack and kill Ndigbo especially the shop owners and their shops were looted. There was no correlation between Maitatsine and Christian shop owners. “Maitatsine” became an excuse for jihad against other Muslims to ensure that they fall in line especially in Bulunkutu, Jimeta, etc. Having subdued the North and moderate Muslims including the overthrow of Christian General, Yakubu Gowon and a moderate Muslim President, Shehu Shagari, today, 2019, Nigeria has a group of Christian Clergy (Mukharabat), men and women paid handsomely and granted national Honors, whose duties include speaking in defense of Islam and Sharia.”
Principal drivers of the violence
(1) Quran: Abrogation Q2:106;
(2) Apostasy Q16:106; (4) Gender inequality Q2:282; Islamic supremacy Q3:85; (5) Jihad Q9:29; (6) Lying/Taqiyya Q3:28; (10) Slander/Blasphemy ‘Umdat al-Salik, Q3.1.’’
Role of Religion
“There was a commission of inquiry in 1982 in Nigeria which discovered that the three persons named above introduced the doctrine and operational manual of Muslim Brotherhood into Nigeria. The Maitatsine inquiry showed clearly the use of state violence to quell religious fanaticism thus began the process of state force to bring other Muslim sects into line; the same was applied to El Zakzaky in 2016, a Shiite who was an ally of the Sunni in the 1970s to 1980s. It also provided political reasons for the dominance of Muslim North over Christian South. Shekau’s video “the religion of Allah not the religion of Democracy” in December 17, 2014 shows the role of religion in the crisis in Nigeria.”
Evidence of organized co-ordination
“The Intelligence Service is the only organization in Nigeria since independence that has not been subjected to a commission of inquiry. It was strengthened when Murtala Mohammed was assassinated and became an instrument for the “protection of Muslims and the promotion of Sharia.” The Intelligence Service constituted the “invisible government”. Evidence of this fact can be found in the leadership and personnel of the organization. The videos made by Boko Haram also showed organized co-ordination.”
Evidence of support
“A former Governor of Borno State started the Boko Haram and co-opted the head of Boko Haram sect, Yesufu into his cabinet. A member of NCEF and former Chief of Army Staff had to call on Nigerians to resort to self defense when the telephone of a terrorist was discovered to contain numbers of government and top officials in the Armed Forces. No commission of inquiry was set up, but a committee of the military was alleged to have found the military blameless. Today, all Ethnic Nationalities have been advised to resort to self-help. This is not evidence of an organized society.”
Disproportionate Number of Victims
“This can be attributed to various acts of “stealth jihad” by the Federal Government whereby arms in the hands of law abiding citizens mainly Christians were confiscated while the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram retain their AK47 rifles. When these terrorists are arrested, they are “re-habilitated” and sent back into the society. They are never prosecuted. See Buhari’s statement para 7(i) – (vii) below.”
Finance for Weapons
“The case of an arms dealer, a Nigerian who lives in Egypt was reported to the Department of State Security (DSS). The DSS did not carry out the directive of President Jonathan that the suspect be arrested and interrogated. Intelligence report in 2010, found (former governor of Borno) personal involvement in the recruitment, training and dispatch of Boko Haram fighters. During the period of Jonathan, the Islamists consolidated and the result is what is taking place presently in Nigeria. The DG SSS was accused by the NCEF of disloyalty to President Jonathan in a letter to that organization in December 2017.”
Evidence of collusion
“It is also clear that it is stealth jihad to have a Constitution that prohibits State Police even as money in billions of dollars is voted for vigilantes and religious police, thus rendering the Police weakened by stealth jihad while Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen execute the conventional jihad. This is the conclusion that one can draw from these statements of President Buhari over the years below:(see photo1)
(1)“I will continue to show openly the total commitment to the Sharia movement;” (2)“Why should Christians be concerned when Muslims cut off their limbs after all the limbs cut off are Muslim ones;”
iii. “I can die for the course of Islam, if necessary. We are prepared to fight another civil war; “
(1)“We cannot be blackmailed into killing the Sharia idea. Sharia must be spread all over Nigeria.” (2)“Boko Haram members should be pampered and given VIP treatment but not killed. It is injustice to kill them;” (3)“That Muslims should only vote those who will promote Islam. “We are more than Christians if you add our Muslim brothers in the South-West.” Buhari was caught on video tapes before he became president in 2015.”
Action so far taken
The action taken so far by the government suggests collusion or cover up by refusing to call jihad by its proper name. When a crime is committed and acts of subjugation and/or humiliation is added such as rape or religious signs or cries, this is jihad. Because the violence is motivated by ideological reasons, action taken by all interested parties must be directed towards the prevention of violence. Bullets do not kill ideology; it is a better ideology over time that can eliminate Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen and this is Democracy.’’
Action taken to prevent further conflict
“Knowledge, information and understanding. It took over 20 years of study to appreciate that the violence is motivated by ideology. All forms of distraction and propaganda are utilized to change the narrative: poverty, illiteracy, change of climate, etc. The truth is Sharia ideology is incompatible with Democracy. A multi-cultural, multi-religion and multi-ethnic country like Nigeria requires Democracy not Sharia.
“The Peace Accord between the Federal Government and Boko Haram brokered by Canon Stephen Davis was never signed by the Federal Government after Boko Haram leaders signed in July 2013. Two of the seven Boko Haram leaders who signed the agreement lost their lives in questionable circumstances.”
“Democracy and Sharia are no fake news. Those who cry fake news are those promoting jihad and Taqiyya, so as to provide an excuse for stealth jihad and the protection of jihadists. An Imam in Plateau State was rewarded for saving hundred of Christians from the jihadists which showed that not all Imams in Nigeria are Jihadists.”
Conflict primarily ideological
“The conflicting ideologies of Democracy and Sharia are responsible for the refusal of the Muslim North to say thank you to the Christian South for the growth and development of the Muslim North. To do so would contravene the tenets of Islam and Islamic supremacy over other religions and peoples. In the paper of the National Christian Elders Forum titled Testimony of Hope in Democracy of May 17, 2019, we suggested that Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are perceived solutions to what Northern Muslim elite and student groups saw as an instrument for solidifying an Islamic identity in the face of continuing Christian advances in Nigeria. It is time that the peoples of Nigeria and the UK appreciate that Democracy and Sharia is incompatible. What Nigeria needs is Democracy. It will be very clear that Sharia is no match for Democracy with respect to life being more abundant. Unfortunately, Britain seems to have been taken over by Muslims and very soon would need help, if they do not appreciate that it is an ideology (Sharia) that is staring them in the face.”
Source – Vanguard Newspapers, Nigeria.