Paul Obi in Abuja
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday called on religious leaders to teach their adherents to embrace peace and eschew violence, given that no nation can survive a war in the name of religion.
Speaking at the end of a three-day conference organised by the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) in collaboration with the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) and the Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) in Abuja, the President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) called on religious leaders to teach their adherents to embrace peace.
The Sultan cautioned that the consequences of a religious war will be severe and will have negative effect on the nation.
He said: “We have seen what religious violence has done to other nations. We must do everything to encourage our Muslim and Christian members to embrace peace. No nation can survive any form of war that is waged in the name of religion. Both religions preach peace.
“As religious leaders we should be seen encouraging peace for development. I hope that after this conference organised by KAICIID and the IPCR, in partnership with IMC , we shall continue to remind ourselves on the need for peace and forge a common front toward religious understanding.
“We have no option, but to live in peace. Our religious leaders must teach their followers on the need for peace. We cannot continue to live in violence and bloodshed and expect development,” the Sultan added.
But in a communiqué signed by KAICIID Nigeria Country expert, Joseph Tanko Atang, the Director General of KAICIID International Dialogue Centre and Institute for Peace and Conflict resolution, (IPCR), Mr Fahad Abualnasr and Prof. Oshita Oshita they applauded the commitment of religious leaders in charting the path of interfaith unity, which is critical for peace, security and sustainable development.
According to the communique, “participants resolved to promote interfaith platforms for religious scholars and leaders; foster religious freedom; partner with media to promote conflict-sensitive reporting on religion; explore legislative and other measures to curb hate speech; create opportunities for increased interfaith education: and work towards removing discrimination, among others.”
President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Dr Samson Supo Ayokunle on his part bemoaned the insurgency in the country, saying that, “When I was elected CAN President, I wrote to the Sultan and told him of the willingness of CAN to work with Muslims in order to promote peace in the country. Lack of trust and mutual understanding must be dealt with.
“There are more common issues that unite us than issues that divide us. In the atmosphere of destruction, there will be no progress from both sides. We must seek for peace and attain it for the development of our country,” the CAN President stated.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, speaking through Ambassador A. U Bako, commended KAICIID and other partners for organizing the event. The minister noted that the country cannot achieve peace in an atmosphere of conflict. She called on Nigerians to leverage on the nation’s diversity for development.
KAICIID Senior Advisor, Prof. Mohammed Abu-Nimer stated that the “conference has provided a platform for genuine interaction among participants. I hope the gains of this engagement will continue to manifest in promoting peace among Christian ad Muslims in Nigeria.”