By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The presidency Tuesday in Abuja said security agencies were relentlessly working to rescue some citizens who had been held hostage by Boko Haram insurgents, attesting to the ability of the security forces to rescue the victims.
This assurance was coming on the heels of the call by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on foreign countries to intervene in alleged deliberate killings of Christians in the country.
CAN which was reacting to the recent kidnap of chairnan of CAN in Adamawa State, had written to the United Kingdom, the United States and the United Nations (UN), calling for their interventions in alleged oppression and persecution of Christians in Nigeria.
But reacting to CAN’s letter to the foreign bodies in a statement, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the government had condemned terrorist activities that took place during the Yuletide and appealed to CAN not to continue to view such incidents from religious perspectives.
According to him, it is commonly known that perpetrators of the heinous crimes are terrorists who are not representatives of any religion as being insinuated, insisting that the federal government is fighting Boko Haram.
He reiterated the commitment of the government’s zero tolerance to religious intolerance as well as its support for freedom of worship, saying politicisation of religion is not acceptable.
“The security forces of Nigeria are working continuously to return those taken hostage by Boko Haram to their families, friends and communities. In doing this, the government has full confidence in their ability to accomplish the task.
“On its own part, government has condemned some of the appalling acts of terror, especially following the festive period. Yet, to continue to see these happenings solely in religious terms – removed from social, economic and environmental factors – simplifies complexities that must be heeded. Not seeing them as they should be is exactly what the terrorists and groups wish: they want Nigerians to see their beliefs as reason to turn against one another.
“On the contrary, Christians and Muslims alike are united in their opposition to Boko Haram and the hatred for decency that the infamous group stands for. Nigerians must continue to be united in ensuring that they do not subscribe to the terrorists’ message of division.
“Unfortunately, some leaders and politicians seek to make political capital from our religious differences. As we fight Boko Haram on the ground, so too must we tackle their beliefs: stability and unity in face of their hatred is itself a rejection of their worldview.
“This government shall never tolerate religious intolerance. We clearly and unambiguously restate our support for the freedom to practice whichever belief you wish. The politicisation of religion – as forbidden by the constitution – has no place in Nigeria.”