Worried by the level of insecurity in the country, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar (III), has called on the Federal Government (FG) to treat all cases of violence in the country as criminal offence. Also, the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Mr. Ayo Oritsejafor, has urged the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (SCIA) to partner CAN in order to enthrone a befitting and united nation.
Both leaders spoke Tuesday at the first quarterly zonal general meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Relious Council (NIREC) and the inauguration of the state chapter of the body in Akwa Ibom State.
"Insecurity is everywhere and must be checked by all of us. No religion preaches violence and such cases should be treated as criminal. We will not stop giving advice to the government because it is our responsibility.
"Religious leaders must always speak the true, the only true according to the holy books. We must make sure we do what we preach. Nigerian is very much religious and Nigerians believe very much on their religious leaders.
"It is only right for us as religious leader to always speak the truth and lead the people. Speaking and not acting what you speak is totally unacceptable.
"Insecurity is everywhere. In the north we have bombing and killing, in the south we have kidnapping and armed robbery, all these criminal activities must be check by everybody. No religion teaches violence or killing of people.
"Dialogue is the best option for any conflict situation. There is no problem big enough that dialogue cannot resolve," the Sultan said.
On his part, Oritsejafor said NIREC was an important and veritable organ that could build bridges across religions in this country and the best platform that can be used to foster unity and promote peace for the country.
"I believe the SCIA also joins with CAN, we will, therefore, continue to partner with each other and Nigerians of goodwill for the collective desire of our countrymen and women to enthrone a befitting and united country that we can all be proud of.
"If we can genuinely foster the unity that we so much desire and talk about, we can together speak truth and demand accountability for our appointed and elected officials in government. In this way, Nigeria will be better for it.
"However, the government of the day must also strive to effectively manage the economic unit of our country and bring to book those found to be corrupt and polluting the transparent system already in place.
"The Federal Government must appreciate that it has the upper hand in this fight to unite the country and her people. They must remember that equity and justice are the bases of peace in any society.
"When we talk, we should be fair, precise and practical. We should remember that whatever conclusions we reach at the end of this meeting, it will help the Federal Government and indeed Nigeria to have existing new ideas. Nigerians should see the great potentials, dynamism, courage and determination of the religions to correct certain societal ills," Oritsejafor said.
In a lecture titled 'International Relations and Terrorism' Prof. Samuel Egwu of University of Jos noted that terrorism has brought religious issues and divisions to the fore in Nigeria.
He pointed out that the development is threatening the entire process of development, deepening democracy and national integration.
The lecturer called for caution the response to the problem of terrorism to avoid the bandwagon effect of the western nations in their crusade against terrorism.
"What we need to do is to explore the dynamics of contemporary international relations and the interplay with domestic political, economic and social processes in order to come to terms with the problem of terrorism,” he stated.
Also speaking, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, lauded the Sultan of Sokoto and CAN President for their love to ensure peace reigned in Nigeria.
He described the two religious leaders as worthy ambassador of the two faith saying religion and tribe were not a factor when Nigeria played and won the just concluded African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
He said distrust among religious leaders in the country was the bane of intolerance among their adherents, and charged them to be sincere in doing what they preach.
The governor said NIREC served as a clearing house for religious tolerance noting that some religious leaders preach one thing and do the reverse.
"As leaders when we speak, we should practice it. We shouldn't have double lips. In public, you preach tolerance, but in private, you encourage divisiveness. When you practice peace, your followers would follow suit.
"In Nigeria, we should discourage politics of the tortoise which is not the best thing for Nigeria. That has been the bane of Nigeria politics, where leaders promise Heaven and earth during election and at the end, they don’t deliver any of their promises.
"When people who are ordained by God, who have the fear of God enter into politics, politics will never be the same. They will definitely deliver what they promise and that is what you will see if time permits you to go round Akwa Ibom," he stated.
The governor commended the religious leaders for bringing the meeting to the state and hoped the meeting would serve as a fillip in bringing peace and religious tolerance among Nigerians.
He called on the leaders to warn their adherents to desist from bombing and killing one another in the name of religion, stressing the need for peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.