By NBF News
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The national vice-president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop John Praise Daniel has advised the Federal Government to call the Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to order over his handling of the controversial issue of Islamic Banking. He alleged that Sanusi had been influenced by some 'ulterior motives to fulfill his own part in the subtle moves to Islamize the country.'

Praise, who is also the Secretary of the Interfaith Advisory Committee Against Corruption under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), spoke with Daily Sun. Excerpts:

Our grouse against Islamic banking.
The church is vehement, because of the problems we are going through, we don't want anything called Islamic banking because we are mortgaging our destiny, mortgaging the future of our children. The places they always go to train people is in Sudan. We all know what happened there. How Christians were subjected to so much torture for almost 50 years until recently they got their independence.

Even with that they are still being harassed.
Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has twice changed the guidelines. In the first place, he categorized non-interest banking and then Islamic banking, which is also non-interest. We are not saying that there should be no non-interest banking, but we are saying that the guidelines guiding the non-interest banking should be a general guideline. Just like you want to start a university, there is a guideline from the National Universities Commission (NUC) on the issues of establishing universities. It is now left for the Christian man or the Moslem man, who wants to start his university to tilt in the direction of his faith if he wants, after fulfilling the guidelines for setting up the university.

We want a universal guideline for non-interest banking, not necessarily an Islamic banking. Good, if I as a Christian, if I have the money to start a non-interest banking, the guidelines are there. I will go and take up the guideline and I will go on. It is Central Bank of Nigeria, not Central Bank of Moslems. Sanusi cannot use the resources of the state to promote an agenda of a particular sect. That is what we are complaining about.

That is why we are saying that he is wrong. If Moslems want to start an Islamic banking, they should be the one to push it forward, not the Central Bank Governor pushing it forward. It should not be the CBN Governor, who should be pushing for Islamic banking. It is just like putting a Christian CBN Governor and he goes there to push for a Christian bank, will the Moslems take it?

Islamic banking is a divisive term
I believe there is a law or policy that says that in the banking sector, you must not push for a particular name that looks discriminatory, like Islamic banking, like Christian banking or Ecclesiastical banking, or any of such because it already discriminates the other people. Nigeria is supposed to be a secular state or a country of two major faiths, Christianity and Islam. Let there be a guideline for non-interest banking.

From the Bible, Exodus 22: 25, 'if thou lent money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as a usurer, neither shalt thou laid upon him usury.' There is a provision even in the Bible for non-interest banking, so the guideline should be a general thing on non-interest banking for everybody, who is interested and has the wherewithal to establish a non-interest bank. If we have guidelines on non-interest banking and a Moslem now picks it up and say oh wonderful, we want to start up a non-interest bank and we will call it an Islamic non-interest bank, fine. Christians can also come up with their own names and start up a non-interest bank, put their resources together it's still possible, it could be practiced. There are other countries which practice such non-interest banking.

Islamic Council of Sharia in CBN
They are going to set up an Islamic Council of Sharia in the CBN to monitor this Islamic banking. Is it fair? Sanusi will not be the CBN Governor forever, may be after his tenure, he may not come back. Why insist to establish a pattern, something that you cannot finish? It means he has an agenda, to subjugate everybody in this country to their whims and caprices and I don't think this is right. Before Sanusi came it was Soludo and every time, he pushes that it was Soludo that started Islamic banking. Everything started not even from Soludo, from 1992 or so.

Okay, we started talking about non-interest banking, non-interest banking. If he is pushing so much so because almost everything that Soludo did, when Sanusi came, he put it aside. If it is true that Soludo started the non-interest banking stuff, why did he bring it down from N25billion that Soludo pegged it? Why did he bring it down to N10billion? JAIZ Bank couldn't take off during Soludo's time because they were supposed to have a share capital of N25billion and they couldn't raise it. Sanusi brought it down to N10 billion. If he is following what Soludo did, why did he bring it down from N25 billion to N10 billion?

Government should be very careful on this matter
We are hoping that it does not scale through. If they allow it to scale through, it is going to create more distrust and tension, which already exists in the country. We are asking the government apparatus to wake up and Sanusi should be called to order. If there is a non-interest banking, it should be for everybody, it should be a blanket cover, not Islamic banking.

Don't be surprised that in the next few weeks to come, if government insists, you may see some Christian bodies on the streets, probably, protesting and insisting that this must not be allowed to go through. Don't be surprised to see our women on the streets, don't be surprised to see our youths on the streets. So it's a very sensitive thing, very sensitive thing and we ask that government be very, very careful the way this issue is handled.

Islamic banking should not cause a rift between Christians and Muslims. It shouldn't if there was maturity in handling the issues and that is what we are saying. Christians and Moslems, we have lived together in this country for so long. Let's be reasonable enough to sit down together and to look at the various issues. The Church is not sitting down, and we are not going to keep quiet and of course, we will not say more what may be our next steps, plans or what we may do. But for now, we are at the speaking level. We want the whole world to know, we want Nigerian Christians to know, we want Nigerian Moslems to know that we have been together in this country and for Christ's sake, let's keep this country together, let's think of how to develop this country, let's move this country forward.

Bakare's comments on Islamic banking
We will leave the society to assess Pastor Tunde Bakare (of the Latter Rain Assembly) by his comments and trend of things. The same man who had said that General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) and some other people at that time were not fit to rule Nigeria, and eventually he came to accept to serve as his running mate. What I can say of Bakare, everybody is wrong and only him is right.