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Chibok: Cleric Bemoans Fate Of Abducted Schoolgirls

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A cleric, who is the Bishop of the Anglican Communion and Leader of the Northern Christian Forum (NOSCEF), Bishop Emeritus Emmanuel Kana Mani, on Saturday, bemoaned the fate of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls in Borno State.

Describing as a sad commentary and soul-wrecking the fact that the abducted Chibok schoolgirls are still in captivity two months after their abduction, the cleric advocated prison term for anyone who calls a Christian, “people with faith”, “Arne or Kirdi” as some are quick to say.

Bishop Kani said now is the time for the Government of Borno State, leaders of thought and the traditional institution to work towards ensuring peaceful co-existence between the adherents of the two prominent religions in the country.

The Bishop stated this when he led a delegation of the members of the Northern Christian Forum (NOSCEF) on a courtesy visit to the Shehu of Borno at his palace in Maiduguri, the state capital.

Bishop Mani said the group was at the Shehu's palace to pay homage and also to console and condole with the monarch as the deputy Chairman of the Nigerian Muslim Ummah over the death of the Emir of Kano, Sarkin Ado Bayero, the Emir of Gombe and the Emir of Gwoza as well other Muslims and Christian clerics who died recently.

He said his group was still at grief and shocked at the failure of the authorities to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls two months after their abduction by Boko Haram.

He said the families of the abducted Chibok girls, their relations, Borno State, and the entire people of Nigeria as well as the international community are still pained by the incident . He said he hoped government will double its effort in the search and rescue the girls and bring them back to their parents.

The Bishop also called for unity among the adherents of both Islamic and Christian religions, saying : “Your royal highness, I recall that you have continued to agitate for the establishment of the Borno State branch of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC).

'We are therefore here to also let you know that, if we ever needed NIREC in Borno State, we need it now more than ever before. Only recently, I received in my office, the Co-Executive Director of the Inter-faith Mediation Centre, Kaduna, on an advocacy visit at the Bishop's Court. The two Directors represent both Islam and Christianity.

'We understand that they have been working with some selected Muslims and Christians including clerics and other non-governmental organisations on capacity building in conflict management, mitigation and reconciliation, as well as drawing up an alternative peace road map.

“We in NOSCEF have gone up to set up Inter-faith Committee hoping that whatever there is the need to interface between our two religion, which we believe, there is the need to do so, Your royal highness, we should move on and ensure the immediate setting up of the state chapter of NIREC.”

According to Bishop Mani, one of the issues still of concern to the Christian body particularly in the state is the use of the concepts of “arne” and “kirdi ” by some Muslims to refer to Christians. This, he maintained, is the source of animosity between adherents of the two religion in buses, markets, schools and other places

“We need to disabuse the minds of our adherents through awareness and enlightenment campaigns. Arne or Kirdi are people who are faithless.,” he said.

He noted that Bauchi, Kaduna and other states in the north has outlawed calling someone “arne” with offenders risking jail term, saying such should be should be replicated also in Borno State to ensure peace and harmony.