Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The Presidency last night told the Supreme Council for Sharia to refrain from insinuations that can promote division and instead, join the government in maintaining both peace and peaceful coexistence in the country.
It said it is not only the government which has the responsibility to maintain peace, but also involves the collaboration of religious organisations whose words it said carry weight.

The warning was issued in response to allegations by the Supreme Council for Sharia which had accused President Muhammadu Buhari of letting down Muslims by his alleged failure to attend the emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called by Turkey to discuss the United States pronouncement of Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the allegation was not only totally misleading but also baseless.
Speaking on BBC Hausa radio service on Friday, Shehu said the president had to go to France to attend the Climate Change Summit because he had earlier given a firm commitment to the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and consequently sent the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu to represent him at the Turkey meeting of OIC.

“The Paris summit on climate change wasn’t a junket. It was also about the problems of the Lake Chad region which affects Nigeria as well as the neighboring countries. About 30 million lives are involved. Without the drying up of the lake, we would probably not have had the acute poverty that nurtured the environment for Boko Haram terrorism,” he said.
Shehu recalled that countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which sponsored the United Nations General Assembly resolution to condemn Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, didn’t also attend the Turkey meeting for various compelling reasons.

“As a respectable religious organisation, an organisation that we hold in high esteem, the Supreme Council for Shari’ah could have helped themselves and the nation by checking the facts before the outburst, which sadly, was repeatedly aired by the international radio. By the time the Erdogan summit was called, the Presidential advance team was already in Paris, ready to receive him.
“At that point, the best President Buhari could do was to send a representation. He called President Erdogan and explained the circumstances and the Turkish leader expressed his understanding and appreciation. We are signatory to the final resolutions,” he stated.

He explained that at every available opportunity, including his addresses at the UN General Assembly sessions in 2015, 2016 and 2017, Buhari had always spoken passionately and forcefully about the Palestinian issue and the necessity and urgency of finding solution to their case.
He said against this background, it is very uncharitable of any religious organisation to accuse the president of abandoning Muslims as alleged.
He added: “As can be seen from the UN vote on Jerusalem, the issue of Palestine is for all men of conscience, Muslims, Christians, Jews and even nonbelievers. Besides, the President has shown consistency in his support for the Palestinian cause.

“In his address at the General Assembly in 2015, President Buhari said ‘as we engage in these annual debates, we need remind ourselves of the principles that led to the founding of the United Nations. Among those are peaceful coexistence and self determination of peoples.
“In this context, Mr. President, the unresolved question of self-determination for the Palestinian people and those of Western Sahara, both nations having been adjusted by the United Nations as qualifying for this inalienable right must now be assured and fulfilled without any further delay or obstacle.’

“The international community has come to pin its hopes on resolving the Palestinian issue through the two – states solution which recognises the legitimate right of each state to exist in peace and security. The world has no more excuses or reasons to delay the implementation of the long list of Security Council resolutions on this question. Neither do we have the moral right to deny any people their freedom or condemn them indefinitely to occupation and blockade.”

He added that in his address at the UN in 2016, the president said “despite years and years of international efforts, it is no nearer to being resolved. Nigeria in company with member States of the African Union, firmly support the two-state solution with Palestinian rights to statehood in conformity, with numerous Security Council resolutions beginning with Resolution 242 of 1967.
“Let me seize this opportunity to once again thank all UN and other aid agencies and development partners currently deployed in North East Nigeria. I reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to collective action towards an effective global response to address the root causes of refugee flows worldwide. “

He also said in September this year, the president took the issue of Palestine to the UN General Assembly and spoke the minds of Nigerians and many in the world that “new conflicts should not make us lose focus on ongoing unresolved old conflicts. For example, several UN Security Council Resolutions from 1967 on the Middle East crisis remain unimplemented. Meanwhile, the suffering of the Palestinian people and the blockade of Gaza continue.”

Shehu advised religious organisations to avoid jumping to conclusion and making unfounded allegations without adequate knowledge and facts of the reality surrounding certain decisions and actions of the government.
He said the Presidency appreciated the support and prayers for the president from all religious organisations and assured that Buhari was committed to the promotion of peace and harmony in the country.

He urged all religious leaders to recognise the sensitivity of some of their utterances on the unity and peaceful coexistence of the country.