PRESS STATEMENT BY NATIONAL CHRISTIAN ELDERS FORUM (NCEF)NIGERIA: TOTTERING ON THE EDGE OF THE PRECIPICE
Wednesday 13th July, 2016.
The National Christian Elders’ Forum (NCEF) received with unquantifiable alarm and shock, the report of the gruesome murder of a 42 year old Christian woman, Mrs. Eunice Olawale Elisha by Islamic assailants. According to confirmed reports, Mrs. Elisha was murdered on Saturday, 9th July, 2016, while on Christian Evangelism. Her neck was slashed and was also stabbed in the stomach at Kubwa area of Abuja, FCT.
The murder of Mrs. Elisha is another addition to the unwarranted serial murder of Christians by Islamic assailants in Nigeria. A few days ago, on 30th June, 2016, Pastor Joseph Zakariya Kura of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) was murdered while on his farm by Fulani herdsmen in Obi LGA of Nasarawa State. Until his death, Pastor Kura was the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Obi LGA.
On Friday 3rd June, 2016, Mrs. Bridget Agbaheme, a 74 year old Christian was murdered at Wambai market in Kano. According to reports, the woman objected to a Muslim man doing ablution in front of her shop. For daring to object to the Muslim washing rite in front of her shop, the Christian woman was murdered, in broad daylight.
Vanguard report of July 12, 2016 published that 11 persons have been confirmed dead following a violent clash between suspected Fulani Herdsmen and Gbagyi communities in Niger State. All over the nation, religious extremists, under various identities, have been engaged in serial murder of Nigerians of other faiths. Today, the worst terrorist organization in the world, Boko Haram, and the fourth most terrible terrorist organization globally, the Fulani herdsmen, are operating in Nigeria.
These are separate from the attacks by security forces against the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) in the South East and the conflict in the Niger Delta between security forces and militants.
The National Christian Elders Forum expresses its condolence to families that have been affected in all these gruesome mindless and unwarranted murder of Nigerian citizens. It is shocking that a modern state can descend to such level of barbarity and bestial extermination of human lives.
What the nation is witnessing today can be attributed to three immediate factors:
The doctrine of hatredthat was used to indoctrinate Almajiris in the various Islamic Madrassas in the North where Muslims were deliberately taught to hate Christians and people of other faiths.
The concept of “sacred space”in which Islamists believe, for example, that the road leading to their mosque belongs exclusively to them. The “sacred space” concept is applied to every area in which Islamism has travelled. The belief is that all land on earth has been given by Allah to Muslims and it is theirs by right, to stage a Jihad to retake them.
The result of one Nation operating two political systems of Democracy and Sharia.
Nigeria is witnessing a recurring decimal of violence as a result of narrow minded religious indoctrination and the onus is on Muslim leaders in the country to take steps to reverse this anomaly in the best interest of everyone. No country can make progress and live in peace when a section of the population is consumed with hatred for other citizens.
The National Christian Elders’ Forum wishes to emphasize, once again, that the main cause of the crisis in Nigeria is rooted in the conflict of ideology – Democracy versus Sharia in which one nation has two systems of government. It is impossible to have two national ideologies (Democracy and Sharia) as we witness today. Nigeria was established by our founding fathers, British and Nigerians, as a Democratic country to accommodate all the divergent groups within the nation. Those whose aim is to turn the Nation into a Sharia state are the architects of the present distress.
The National Christian Elders’ Forum is calling on all Christian leaders to meet urgently and appraise the situation in the Nation with the Vice President, Pastor Yemi Osibanjo SAN as Chairman. There is the need for a holistic response to the relentless attacks by Islamists on Christians and Christian communities. Thereafter, there should be a meeting with Muslim leaders. This is the only way out of this agony, because while the Islamist Jihadists are few, the majority of Muslims must lead in the fight against Islamist extremism.
If Nigeria is to remain a nation that all the citizens will call their home, Islamic leaders must champion the cause of dismantling the “doctrine of hatred” and promote Democracy which guarantees freedom of choice for all the citizens. Those pushing for Sharia ideology should be persuaded by their Muslim counterparts that in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society like Nigeria, Sharia as a national ideology cannot stand. If this is not done, and done quickly, then the nation that is tottering on the edge of the precipice will be pushed beyond the brink. Christians constitute a significant portion of the Nigerian population and, it is impossible to have Nigeria without Christians.
God save Nigeria,
SOLOMON ASEMOTA (SAN)