FG Warns Religious Leaders Against Message Of Hatred, Disunity

A file photo of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed


The Federal Government has urged religious leaders in the country to refrain from stoking the embers of hatred and disunity.

It warned that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at a time such as this could trigger unintended consequences in the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, issued the warning in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.

“While religious leaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity, and religious disharmony,” he said.

Mohammed believes it is graceless and impious for any religious leader to use the period of Christmas, which is a season of peace, to stoke the embers of hatred, sectarian strife, and national disunity.

He stated that while some religious leaders, being human, may not be able to disguise their national leadership preference, they should refrain from stigmatising the leader they have never supported anyway, using disproved allegations of nepotism or whatever.

The Minister said whatever challenges Nigeria may be going through at this moment could only be tackled when all leaders and indeed all Nigerians come together.

He stressed that the practice of engaging in name-calling and finger-pointing was one that should be discouraged by all citizens.

“Calling for a violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government, no matter how disguised such a call is, and casting a particular religion as violent is not what any religious leader should engage in, and certainly not in a season of peace,” Mohammed said.

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He insisted that instigating regime change outside the ballot box was not only unconstitutional but also an open call to anarchy.

In his Christmas message, Bishop Matthew Kukah accused President Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism.


Although he did not mention any religious leader, the statement from the minister could be linked to the Christmas message of the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah.

In a statement on Friday, Kukah criticised the Muhammadu Buhari administration for the way it was handling the insecurity situation and other challenges in the nation.

He had also accused the President of deliberately sacrificing the dreams of those who voted for him to what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern supremacy by reducing others in public life to second class status.

“He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion. Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it.

“There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war. The President may have concluded that Christians will do nothing and will live with these actions.

“He may be right and we Christians cannot feel sorry that we have no pool of violence to draw from or threaten our country. However, God does not sleep. We can see from the inexplicable dilemma of his North,” Bishop Kukah said in the statement.

Offu’s Killing: Buhari Asks Religious Leaders To Pray For Peace, Security

Buhari Condemns Gombe Killings, Condoles With Victims' Families
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.



President Muhammadu Buhari has called on all religious leaders to pray for peace, healing, and security of the country.

He made the request in reaction to the murder of Reverend Father Paul Offu, said a statement by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

According to the statement, the President expressed deep shock and dismay over the killing of Offu, the Priest of St. James Greater Parish Catholic Church, Ugbawka in Enugu State.

He, therefore, ordered a thorough manhunt for the killers and their immediate prosecution.

READ ALSO: Another Nigerian Killed In South Africa

President Buhari directed the law enforcement agencies to act swiftly in their investigations and bring the perpetrators of the “horrific crime’’ to book.

“The entire nation is shaken by the horrible assassination of this priest. The administration will continue to guarantee the freedom of religion and protect places of worship as well as the lives of citizens wherever they live,” he was quoted as saying.

The President condoled with the Catholic Church; the government and people of Enugu State; as well as the family of the clergyman and members of the parish and all Christians.

He gave assurance that the fight against “lawlessness and recklessness” would be intensified as security of lives and property continues to top his priorities.

Religious Leaders Seek Stronger Muslim-Christian Relationship

Religious Leaders Seek Stronger Muslim-Christian RelationshipReligious leaders are seeking for stronger Muslim-Christian relations, to end the ethno-religious conflicts that have engulfed Southern Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria over the years.

The leaders, including the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, and Sheik Ahmed Gumi, made the call at the graduation ceremony of some clerics from the Christian-Muslim Relations Centre in Kaduna State.

They identified ignorance about the teachings of Islam and Christianity as largely responsible for the various ethno-religious conflicts across the country.

The clerics asked government to rise up to its responsibilities of protecting lives and property, and to also ensure that those responsible for the Southern Kaduna crises were brought to justice.

Speaking at the ceremony, the General Secretary of the Anglican Church Worldwide and Founder of the Centre, Bishop Idowu Fearon, noted that diversity in religion and tribe is a blessing from God and not a tool for division.

“Kaduna will become a state where Christians and Muslims, in spite of our differences, can work together for peace, freedom and the culture of respect,” he said.

On his part, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, condemned the killing of innocent people in Southern Kaduna by gunmen.

He also warned religious, political and traditional rulers against making inflammatory statements that can worsen the situation.

“The responsibility of all persons of faith is so immense, including the obligation to uphold truth and to promote ethical conduct and respect for others.

“Anybody that wishes to be magisterial to issue statements laden with certainty to their followers must first ensure that what they say, or what they are saying is not only factual, but does not violate any laws”, he warned.

The Christian-Muslim Relations Centre is founded to serve as a veritable platform for genuine interaction, and to promote harmonious relationship among Christians and Muslims in Kaduna State.

Stakeholders expressed hope that the engagement would continue to promote interfaith platforms for religious scholars and leaders, as well as foster religious freedom among others.

Emulate The Prophet, Gov. Ahmed Charges Muslims

Emulate The Prophet, Gov. Ahmed Charges Muslims, state higher institutionsThe Kwara State Governor, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed, has felicitated with Muslims on the occasion of the Maolud Nabbiy.

In a press statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary, Abdulwahab Oba, the Governor called on Muslims to emulate the virtues of the Holy Prophet Mohammed which earned him the accolades of being an exemplary character to mankind.

“Prophet Muhammad signifies peace, love and humility which are essential ingredients for a harmonious and progressive society.

“As we celebrate this noble Prophet of Allah, I call on all and sundry, regardless of religious persuasions to show love to one another and be ambassadors of peace and care for all,” the Governor said.

Governor Ahmed, while wishing the Muslim communities a happy celebration and more divine blessing, renewed his commitment to deliver more dividends of democracy through infrastructural development.

“I thank all religious leaders, clerics and religious associations for their supports and prayers for this administration and promise that the worst is over of the state despite the current instability in the country’s economy,” the Governor said.

Ethno-Religious Crisis: Army Tasks Leaders On Unity Among Subjects

Army ethno-religious crisisReligious and traditional rulers have been advised to instill the spirit of unity and togetherness among their followers and subjects.

The General Officer Commanding One Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, gave the advice while speaking at a conference organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Kaduna State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

According to Major General Oyebade, such promotion of unity would stop the continuous ethno-religious conflicts that have ravaged many parts of Nigeria.

Describing the sectarian crises that have rocked Kaduna State recently as the cause of the slow pace of development in the state, he stressed the need for people to see religion and tribe as instruments of unity and peaceful co-existence, rather than being sources of discord and conflict.

The Army officer called on Nigerians irrespective of religious differences to move the country forward in terms of infrastructural development and cordial relationship, as being practiced in other parts of the world.

He also appealed to media practitioners to sensitise the public on religious and ethnic matters in order to achieve a sustainable ethno-religious harmony in Nigeria.

On his part, Mr Chris Umar, a representative of Governor Nasir El-Rufai, said that his administration was committed to promoting peace and security in Kaduna State.

The guest speakers at the event, the Secretary General of Jamaátu Nasril Islam (JNI), Dr. Khalid Abubakar and a former General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State, Reverend Joseph Hayab, identified insincerity on the part of religious leaders as a contributory factor to ethno-religious crisis in Nigeria.

According to the clerics, there cannot be economic prosperity and development in Nigeria in an atmosphere of widespread violence and breakdown of law and order.

They also tasked religious leaders on the importance of telling their followers the truth whenever they go wrong.

In his speech, a former spokesman to former Kaduna State Governor, Ahmed Maiyaki, tasked journalists to use their profession to promote peace and unity and focus on issues that could enhance peace and development.

Ending Insurgency: Religious Leaders Give Recommendations  

Nicholas-Okoh-Muslim-ClericReligious leaders in Nigeria have suggested ways to end the Boko Haram insurgency in the country, cautioning that the military does not need a deadline to fight insurgency.

At a meeting attended by the Minister of Information, Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Muhammad Nuru Khalid, said that deadlines are not helpful anywhere in the world to fight insurgency.

With less than three weeks to the expiry date given by the Presidency to end Boko Haram insurgency, the cleric said that there was need for a review of approaches as it appeared the end is not in sight.

The Anglican Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, also noted that the message of peace should transcend mere talk to the people in the troubled north.

Although the cleric encouraged a regulation of preaching, especially in the troubled north, Archbishop Okoh said that the idea of developing a code of conduct for religious leaders should be treated with caution.

Nevertheless, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, urged the clerics to use their position and influence to drum up support in the war against insurgency.

It was unanimously agreed that taking the message of peace to the grassroots might bring the nation’s worst nightmare to an end.

Yobe Police Task Residents On Neighbourhood Watch

cp---yobe-policeThe Yobe State Police Command has embarked on enlightening residents to watch out for strange faces in their neighbourhoods and to report any suspicious looks to security agents for prompt action.

Leading the campaign to the Damaturu Emirate Council, the State Commissioner of Police (CP), Zannah Ibrahim, appealed to the royal father to educate his subjects on the need to partner security agents in fishing out the miscreants, for a just society.

“The Police is ready and prepared to work with the communities in this regards. Community leaders, religious leader, youth leaders, as well as traditional institution have a role to play.

“Credible young men and women across wards, streets, households should be co-opted to form neighbourhood watch and the Police will give necessary guidance from time to time,” the CP said.

The CP also said that the Command had commenced registration of town service cars operating within the state capital, as well as registration of residents in some black spots within the metropolis, as ways of identifying criminals.

Mr. Ibrahim frowned at the disregard for curfew hours by residents, reminding them that the ‘dusk to dawn’ restriction was still in force.

“The Police Command is seriously dismayed at the disregard to the hours of the curfew and wishes to appeal to the good people of the state to adhere strictly to the stay at home orders between the hours of 10:00pm to 6:00am daily.”

The Emir of Damaturu, Alhaji Shehu Hashimi II Ibn Umar El-Kanemi, praised the efforts of security agents and state government towards finding lasting peace in the state.

The Emir gave the assurance that his emirate would partner with security operatives to speed up the restoration of peace in the state, the zone and Nigeria as a whole.

The Royal father said that the emirate had registered 400 youth volunteers who would soon be unveiled to assist the security agents in fighting insurgency.

The State Police command would take the crusade to all the 14 emirate councils in the state, as well as reaching out to various communities’ leaders, associations and groups, to ensure that the hoodlums have no hiding place.

Religious Leaders Meet To Discuss Religious Peace In Nigeria

peaceIn promoting peace in Nigeria, religious leaders from various parts of the country have opined that religious tolerance remains the panacea for national development.

Clerics made the observation at a meeting organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at.

There was also an interactive session where causes of violence and solutions, as well as how to ensure peace and stability through religion was discussed.

The clerics also said that the nation’s insecurity and other vices are borne out of ignorance of the ‘true meaning of religion’.

They called on Nigerians to live in peace irrespective of religious, social or political leanings.

Jonathan To Undertake Peace Campaign After Hand Over

PeaceNigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, says his major commitment after leaving office on May the 29th will be to engage religious and ethnic leaders across the country on the need to uphold peace.

He said he took the decision because of his strong belief that Nigerians can only practice their different religions in an atmosphere of peace.

The President said this on Friday, after he was presented with the 2015 Epitome of Peace Award by the Field Superintendent of the Apostolic Church Nigeria, Federal Capital Territory Field, Apostle John Buzu, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

President Jonathan expressed gratitude for the award, which was in recognition of the step he took after the March 28 presidential election, saying it would spur him to do more for the country.

He expressed the hope that people would be ready to join him in the crusade.

Gender Violence: Activists Advocate Education, Abrogation Of Obsolete Laws

Sexual_violenceReligious leaders and right activists have said that gender based violence can only be tackled with wide education and a replacement of obsolete and weak laws to check impunity.

The advice was given at a forum on 16 days of activism against gender violence held in Abuja.

Participants at the forum said that efforts should go beyond teaching girls and women about gender based violence to equipping them with solutions that will protect them from being victims of violence.

The leaders also said that other issues which also need urgent attention to stem the rising tide of violence are society’s further victimization of the victims of violence, the quick dismissals of violence as women’s issues rather than a societal dysfunction and the stereotyping of abuse as only physical, neglecting the emotional and psychological harm inflicted on victims.

The increasing cases of violence against women have become a matter of urgent concern and human rights activists say adequate information for the vulnerable and effective legislation will curb it, such as the bill for violence against persons prohibition which has been pending before the National Assembly for 12 years.

From the religious perspective, however, the tactics are different and that is to teach girls self respect which forbids disrespect and to empower women economically and academically so they are lifted from vulnerability.

Enough Of Sweet Words, Back It Up With Action – Analyst Tells Government

A legal practitioner, Idris Faro, on Monday said Nigerians are fed up with sweet words from politicians and stressed the need for public office holders to back their words with positive action.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Faro said “it is good for Nigerians to be optimistic” despite the many years politicians have failed them because “being pessimistic will not better their lot.”

“Sweet words from politicians do not suffice,” he said adding that “they (politicians) need to do more than saying sweet words and there must be positive action towards the deliverance of social amenities for Nigerians.”

He added that: “it is important for those who are in authority to do the primary purpose for which they are in government. It is not enough for them to tell us sweet words, (they would do this, they would do that). There must be positive action towards the deliverance of these amenities.”

He also averred that the citizenry are not doing enough in terms of holding public officers accountable to the trust given them. “We need to question them,” he said, and added that “people must continue to question them and demand for positive results in governance.”

Furthermore, he noted that civil societies, religious associations, pressure groups must ensure that their activities are in tandem with the provision of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of the state policy under chapter two of the constitution.

Over the years, politicians have used pittance to hold the poor folks spellbound in an effort not to be held accountable for their actions and inactions. However, Mr Faro averred that the burden lies on “those who do not need the pittance must do all they can to ensure that politicians are held accountable to the people.”

He added that “it is true that the structure of the country is fundamentally flawed but before we restructure the country we must sustain the effort to hold politicians accountable to the people.”

Asked what medium the people can employ in seeking answers to questions they have about the activities of government, Mr Faro said non-violent rallies at government offices are legal. Citizens can also take advantage of the several fora in the society as well as question government representatives who visit their communities. He also tasked religious leaders in whose places of worship government officials fellowship. “They must continue to question these people when they go to Churches and Mosques to worship,” he said.

Anglican Primate Says Prosperity Sermon Is ‘Half Truth’

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh has condemned the emergence of the ‘get rich quick’ sermon that is the rave of most Pentecostal Churches in the country.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, View From The Top, Mr Okoh said this was not the foundation that was laid by the missionaries who introduce Christianity in Nigeria.

He described as half-truth these sermons by pastors whose aim is for their personal advancement and enrichment.

The Primate said, “It’s not part of the way we started, it was not part of what the missionaries delivered to us, but all of a sudden the teachings on ‘if you follow me you will become wealthy’, ‘If you follow me within six months, you don’t have a Mercedes, then that is not my God’ ‘You either change the church or the church will change you’ something like that.

“At best this is half-truth, in the sense that it is true that God is the owner of everything, God is the owner of the universe, the oil we are harvesting in Nigeria and selling internationally market everywhere and making billions out of it is God’s property so God is rich, stupendously rich so his children are rich also, we are princes, we are princesses, but that does not mean there are no moral underpinnings, everything is ok and people can even steal and do thanksgiving you know is not right”

He said, “so I think that to counter this kind of thing, religious preachers and teachers must preach what is noble, what is helpful, what can build a being, what is realistic, what is biblically acceptable.”