The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, Wednesday in Abuja urged religious leaders to maintain neutrality before, during and after the forthcoming general election to enhance national cohesion.
Abubakar gave the advice at the second General Assembly of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) with the theme: ‘General Elections and National Security: the Role of Interfaith Communities’.
The Sultan, who is also the President-General of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), enjoined religious leaders not to allow themselves to be bought by politicians for their selfish interest.
He stressed the need for spiritual leaders to continue to preach the word of God with honesty and sincerity for the good of humanity and sustainable peace in the country.
“As religious leaders, we should be careful about what we say to our followers in churches and mosques bearing in mind that we will all one day stand before God and account for our deeds.
“We should never allow ourselves to be used by any political party or candidate. If you want to support any party or candidates do it personally,” Sultan said.
He admonished politicians to be responsive and uphold national interest by playing politics according to the rules, and be ready for free, fair and credible elections.
The sultan also appealed to the security agencies to discharge their responsibilities diligently by ensuring peaceful atmosphere throughout the election period.
In a paper titled: ‘2019 General Election and National Security: The Role of Interfaith Communities’, Prof. Sani Lugga said Interfaith communities have a critical role to play in ensuring credible elections.
Lugga said Muslims and Christians had the ultimate duty and responsibility of making Nigeria peaceful and progressive by putting the religiosity into practice in daily private and public lives.
According to him, “Nigerian Muslim and Christian leaders at all levels must take up the challenges of seeing to religious peace, understanding and accommodation.
“This is the most important role that interfaith community in Nigeria can play towards the attainment of peaceful, free, fair and credible 2019 elections.“
Mr. James Igwe (SAN) also urged interfaith leaders to exercise restraint in putting to public domain persuasively optimistic views in form of prophesies that declare who would win or lose the 2019 elections.
He said: “Nigerians are yet to cast their votes, yet some religious leaders are seen as biasing the minds of voters and swaying votes from one candidate to the other.
“I urge interfaith leaders to use prophesies to promote peace and love as well as act in manners consistent with tolerance and harmony.”