The Secretary General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, yesterday, said the council had reached out to the Boko Haram sect in a bid to negotiate the release of Leah Sharibu, the Christian girl still being held in captivity by the insurgents.
Oloyede, who is also the Registrar/Chief Executive of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, also warned religious leaders across Nigeria to desist from promoting crisis in the society, calling for peace and harmony between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.
The NSCIA secretary general spoke while delivering a lecture titled: â€˜Achieving Peace, Stability and Good Governance in a Multi-ethnic and Multi-religious Societyâ€™ at The Point Newspaperâ€™s Annual Ramadan Lecture, held at the premises of the Lagos Television, Agindingbi, Ikeja, Lagos.
He noted that NSCIA began negotiations with some members of the Boko Haram sect before the recent threat by the Christian Association of Nigeria that there would be religious war if Sharibu should die in the captivity of the insurgents.
The insurgents had abducted 110 students on February 19 and released them a month later, with the exception of Sharibu and five other students who died in captivity.
Sharibu was reportedly held back for refusing to renounce her Christian faith and has since remained in captivity.
Oloyede, however, disclosed that the Muslim body had already reached out to the insurgents and promised to help to secure an amnesty for the members of the sect, if they set Sharibu free.
He, therefore described the threats by CAN on the matter as unnecessary, uncalled for and counter-productive to the negotiations for Sharibuâ€™s release from captivity.
Oloyede said: â€œThe unfortunate abduction of Leah and other girls, both Muslims and Christians, is intensely hurtful to all right-thinking persons. I am aware that the particular case of Leah made the leadership of the NSCIA reach out to all possible channels of reaching the group with a proposal to secure amnesty for the group provided Leah and other girls in captivity are released and the group surrenders their arms. This knowledge made the careless threat particularly painful.
â€œThe Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) recently escalated the state of insecurity with its threat that should Leah Sharibu die in captivity of Boko Haram, there would be religious war!!!
â€œI am as astonished as the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General NSCIA who recently expressed shock at the destructive and counter-productive statement.
â€œBoko Haram has never hidden its mission of setting Nigeria ablaze through a religious war. Whose interest was the call to serve? Definitely, not that of the innocent Nigerian Lady, Leah Sharibu. Is it fair, religious or Godly to, for the sake of political grandstanding and publicity-seeking, endanger the life of such a precious, principled and promising lady?
â€œI am sure the immediate family members of the lady would not subscribe to such politicisation of the misfortune.â€
The NSCIA secretary general expressed regret that religious leaders in the country had derailed from the ways of God.
Oloyede, therefore, enjoined religious leaders in Nigeria to make concerted efforts to properly guide their followers in order to enhance peace and unity of the country.
â€œIt is time religious leaders in this country knew that playing politics with religion will amount to serious punishment from God. Most clerics today, manipulate things in their favour, hence disturbing the peace of our society. This is not limited to any religion; it goes to both Christian and Muslim leaders in this country. Look at the Benue crisis for instance, some religious leaders were quick to relate it to religious war, and this can lead to war. Likewise, the case of Leah, was also tagged to be a religious issue. All these will not improve, but amount to crisis in our society,â€ he said.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Baba Adeen of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta states, Chief Sarafa Tunji Isola, said the term â€œIslamic terrorismâ€ used in certain quarters was a misnomer and part of the efforts to paint the Islamic religion in bad light.
Isola described Islam as a religion of peace, which ensures justice for all human beings.
Dignitaries at the Ramadan lecture included the representative of the the Mudeer, Markaz, Habeebulah Adam Al-llory; the President, Muslim Ummah of S/West Nigeria, and Vice President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Chief S.O.B Babalola; the immediate past Registrar, APCON, Nigeria, Alhaji Bello Kankarufi; the Chief Executive officer/Editor in Chief of Daily Trust Newspapers, and the National Amirah, The Criterion, Alhaja Fatymah Yewande Oyefeso, among others.