Control Your Utterances, Interfaith Forum Tells Religious Leaders

african-union-interfaith-dialogueThe African Union Interfaith Dialogue on Thursday asked religious leaders to avoid making utterances that could incite members of one religious group against another in the region.

The forum also advised inter-religious bodies within the African region to urgently implement decisions that were reached in previous conferences aimed at reducing religious conflicts in Africa.

According to the religious leaders at the second African Union Interfaith Dialogue in Abuja, religious leaders play critical role in either preventing or spreading religious conflicts.

Leaders of various religious bodies in Africa converged on Nigeria’s capital to discuss how they could reduce conflicts and promote inter-religious peace in the region.

First, the head of the Civil Society Division for the African Union Dialogue Centre, Ambassador Jalel Chelba, said that the primary objective of the conference was to oversee the establishment of a permanent steering committee which will link policy makers with religious leaders.

In his remarks, the representative of the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Reverend Agatha Ogochukwu, explained the role of religious leaders in conflict resolution.

He said: “there is no doubt that religious leaders of Africa have a lot to contribute to the efforts of the African Union to build peace, resolve conflict, and promote the general well-being of our people.

“All hands must be on deck to rid our world of conflict and wars especially when they claim some religious motivation and excuse”.

Meanwhile, the representative of the Sultan of Sokoto, Mr Sani Lugga, advised religious leaders to be careful with their utterances, so as not to promote religious conflicts.

“There has been a lot of deliberation, a lot of talking but a little of the implementation. Therefore, we finally call particularly on religious leaders to guard their utterances, guide their flocks to the right path,” Mr Lugga stressed.

It is hoped that the resolutions from the forum would proffer solutions to inter-religious conflicts that has engulfed some member states in recent times.

Osinbajo Links Terrorism To Bad Religious Doctrines

Religious leaders and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has blamed bad religious doctrines for increased terrorism, violence and armed conflicts around the world.

The Vice President made the observation at a meeting on Wednesday with 200 world religious leaders in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Apostles Of Hatred

He advised the clerics to do all within their power to disqualify all apostles of hatred and bad doctrines across the world.

Professor Osinbajo says the government is determined to protect the sanctity of every human and their right to belong to any religion.

World leaders have moved away from talk to downright action over the last decade to confront the issue of religious extremism.

Various forms of violence have risen owing to bad doctrines, a development that prompted the meeting of world religious leaders, with participants seeking ways that religions could work for global peace.

Niger Republic, Boko Haram
Boko Haram terrorist group has pushed for an Islamic State in northeast Nigeria for over six years

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan and the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, agreed that the central concern for Nigeria is to uphold her unity and peace through religion.

The high-level international inter-religious gathering will also consider how religions could positively affect and encourage efforts to foster social harmony and economic progress.

Heat Of Insurgency

Nigeria has in the last six years continued to tackle insurgency by Boko Haram terrorist group which has attacked communities in the northeast.

The Islamic group said it wanted to establish an Islamic State and bring an end to Western education in the region.

In the heat of the insurgency, nearly 300 girls were taken from their school’s dormitory in Government Girls Secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, a stronghold of the group.

President Muhammadu Buhari met with 21 Chibok girls released by Boko Haram on Wednesday

The girls were taken on April 14, 2014.

Over 50 girls escaped on the same day from the group, leaving over 200 others in their captivity.

For two years, Nigerian armed forces have made several attempts to rescue them with support from international community, but did not make any major breakthrough until October 13, when 21 girls were released.

Their release came after one of the girls was rescued in May, with one of the terrorists she was married to saying they had decided to come out of their haven due to lack of food and other things.

The Nigerian government said the girls were released based on trust and negotiation aided by some friends of the oil-rich nation.

On Wednesday, the 21 released girls met with President Muhammadu Buhari, with the President assuring them that the government would rehabilitate them, and ensure that their reintegration back to the Society is done as quickly as possible.


Ibrahim Lame Stresses Need For State Police Creation

Nigeria Police Force, Ibrahim Lame, The Federal Government has been asked to reconsider the suggestions in some quarters for the setting up of state police across Nigeria.

A former Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Lame, made the call at a forum on good governance in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Grossly Incapacitated

He said the Nigeria Police Force was grossly incapacitated to take care of the security needs of the people.

Dr. Lame added that only effective community policing could address the recent rise in communal clashes experienced in Nigeria.

He highlighted the security of lives and property as the primary objective of any sensitive administration and should be taking seriously at all times.

In their remarks, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onayekan and an aide to the Enugu State Governor, Dr. Malachy Ochie, focussed on how to ensure good governance and stability in the polity.

Some participants at the gathering also suggested how to provide the dividends of democracy to the people.

They noted that it must be backed with a strong political will by those in government.

Catholic Bishops Support War On Corruption, Terrorism

Catholic The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, says government must continue the legal efforts of thoroughly investigating the crimes of the past, transparently and prosecute all accused persons.

Speaking at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, Cardinal Onaiyekan said that religious institutions cannot remain aloof in the ongoing war against corruption and insurgency while a moral spiritual battle is raging.

He lamented the problem of endemic corruption which he said has left a trail of poverty in the country.

Cardinal Onaiyekan also asked government to explore other strategies for fighting terrorism and insurgency in the country.

He was delivering his homily as Catholic bishops from different states of the country came together with Catholic faithful to celebrate mass as part of activities to mark the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

After the service, the Catholic bishops and parishioners left the church auditorium to the main venue of the Bishops’ Conference proper.

The President of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, was the keynote speaker and he also focused on the war on terrorism.

He said that the war on corruption and terrorism cannot be fought and won by government alone.

Archbishop Kaigama expressed optimism that a new Nigeria is possible with a general reawakening of patriotic consciousness among the people.


Nigerians Have Lost Respect For Elders, Obedience To Authority

The federal government has challenged religious leaders to be in the vanguard of transforming the society and ridding the country of incidents of cultism, terrorism, kidnapping and other social vices.

Speaking in Abuja at the official flag off of the national Christian campaign on social transformation, President Jonathan who was represented by the Minister of Housing and urban development, Miss Ama Pepple, said Nigerians have lost the values of hard-work, respect for elders and obedience to constituted authority.

The President said there is a need for religious leaders to be in the vanguard of transforming the society and rid the country of incidents of cultism, terrorism, kidnapping and other social vices.

President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, promised that the church will continue to assist the government in promoting the ideals of a good society where peace and justice reigns.

Those present at this event called on Christians in the country to imbibe and practice true godliness that will lead to the transformation of the society.