The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, says traditional and religious leaders that are supposed to hold the nation’s political leaders to account are being cowed into silence. He spoke in Abuja yesterday at this year’s Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace Third Annual General Assembly and Peace Conference, with the theme: “Interreligious Dialogue: Strengthening the Culture of Peace, Justice and Reconciliation”.
He said: “Whoever that takes life whether Christian or Muslim is a criminal and should be treated as such. Everything I heard today is hegemonic. The traditional and religious leaders that are supposed to hold political leaders to account for the people are being muscled into silence.
If you’re an emir and you talk too much, you get removed. If you’re an Imam or a Bishop, you need money for charity; but be ready to do business with the devil so that you can do charity.” The Sultan, represented by the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, stressed that there was no crisis between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, saying ignorance had always been the cause of religious tension in the country.
The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr Samson Ayokunle, said he was not in good mood to speak because of the killing of a CAN chairman in Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi. “From December till now, we’ve continued to lose church leaders and others without any array of hope that it will stop,” he said.
Co-chairmen of the IDFP, Ishaq Kunle Sanni and Bishop Sunday Onuaha, said the event was to ensure a continuous dialogue for peace between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, stressed the need for dialogue and reconciliation. The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev Hassan Kukah said political actors had not shown the willingness to address nation’s challenges.
Nigeria ranks as the 12th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.