Nigerians react to ethno-religious killings

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There should be a thorough investigation with a view to knowing who is doing what and who is benefiting from what. The government should embark on an investigation and come up with a report about its findings. I believe that such a report would help us to know how to begin to resolve the crises.

It is surprising that the state governors are reacting to the problem rather than taking proactive steps. Also, they seem to be helpless about what should be done. Obviously, they are not doing enough. They need to rise up to their responsibilities in their states.

Religious leaders should also begin to reach out to one another. That is the only way they can know what the problems are.

The violence in the North, especially in recent times, are very unfortunate. But I am sure that the incidents have nothing to do with religion. Those who perpetrate the acts do not know what religion stands for; they merely hide under religion to carry out their evil acts. Any Muslim who kills and maims in the name of Islam does not know what the Quran teaches. Islam does not support killing. The problem we have in the country is that many people go about with religious labels without knowing the tenets of the religion they proclaim.

As a nation, we need to research into the root cause of the killings. To the best of my knowledge, the major cause of the conflict is politics. People play politics with almost everything. Another factor that is responsible for the conflicts is lack of tolerance. We have lost the spirit of tolerance. People of different faiths can only cohabit if they tolerate one another.

The solutions are tied to the remote causes of the conflict. We must imbibe the virtue of honesty. There would always be mistrust if we are not honest with one another. And that breeds conflict.

Christians should make effort to understand what Islam stands for. Muslims as well should learn the basic tenets of Christianity. People of different religions would relate with one another better if they understand one another’s religions.

Both Christians and Muslims have different doctrines. As long as we do not respect each other’s doctrines, there would be conflicts. People must abstain from imposing their religious practices on people of the other faiths.

As a Muslim, I don’t eat pork. And it would be wrong for anybody to bring pork close to where I am. But you need to understand that I don’t eat it before you can learn how to relate with me in that regard.

I have not been fully briefed about the incident that happened on Tuesday. But whatever the case might be, life is sacred. God has not given anybody the right to take life. It is only the government that has the right to excute a death penalty. And it has to be justified.

 No religion preaches that life should be taken. There is no war in Nigeria, yet some individuals are taking others’ lives in the name of religion. My position is that life is sacred. The culprits should be apprehended and be made to face justice.

Nigeria is a multi-religious country. You can only talk of blasphemy where there is one religion. And a blasphemous case could only be established by the court. That can only happen when a state says there is only one religion in the country. Blasphemy is not unlawful in Nigeria because it is a multi-religious state.

The constitution recognises the secularity of the country. The government must enforce that provision of the constitution. Nobody, on this basis, has the right to impose his religion on another fellow. Muslims should not impose their religion on people of the other faiths. Also, Christians should not impose their beliefs on Muslims and traditionalists. This is what the constitution says.

The truth is that Nigerians are intolerant of one another. People hide under religion to perpetrate hatred. The solution is simple – the government should begin to prosecute offenders. Nobody has the right to take another person’s life. Offenders must be brought to book. They must face the law. Otherwise, the killings would continue.

Also, religious leaders should begin to address the issue of intolerance. We must teach the people to tolerate others.

One of the major challenges is that governors play politics with everything. You cannot rely on them to fulfill their promises. That is why when they say they would arrest those who kill in different states, nothing happens.

So, we must continue to question the essence of security vote. If they cannot guarantee security of lives and property in their states, they should not collect security vote.

The conflicts we have had were rooted in politics. When the power is discentralised, there would be peace in the country.

 You cannot rule out the role the governors play in fueling the conflicts. You cannot also dismiss the role of the Federal Government. The killings have nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. They are rooted in politics.

When there is much tension, which results from the overwhelming influence, there would be conflict. People would want to hold the government to ransom. Some of the crises in the country are instigated by politicians for political or personal gain. And that is because there is so much tension about governance in Nigeria.

National unity is being threatened because some parts of the country look up to the other regions for survival. This is why we have been calling for the restructuring of the country.

Why should all of us rely on oil for survival? States would be more productive when we run a system that allows them to control their resources and pay taxes to the Federal Government.

When that happens, no militants or insurgents would hold the country to ransom because there would be less tension.

The problem is caused by religious intolerance. Meanwhile, the constitution has made it clear that no state shall adopt a particular religion. So, any attempt by any group to impose its religion on others should be resisted by the authorities.

Also, the governors of the affected states must be determined to apply the law in dealing with people who kill, maim or destroy properties in the name of religion.

I believe that the criminals would start behaving well when the government starts applying criminal and penal codes.

Religious leaders should preach peace among their followers. We must tolerate one another, otherwise, the problem would continue.

PUNCH NG


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