Don’t Drag Nigeria Into Islamic Coalition, Christian Elders Warn Buhari - Distance Can From Shiites’ Ordeal
The National Christian Elders Forum yesterday warned President Muhammadu Buhari not to drag Nigeria into the Saudi Arabia-led Muslim/Arab coalition against ISIS. “Nigeria is neither an Islamic nor an Arab nation. The President promised Nigerians before his election that he is now a democrat and has no intention of imposing Sharia or any form of religious domination on the nation. If Nigeria should participate in the Saudi Arabia led coalition, it would be a negation of all that the President promised before his election. Such a denial would be a terrible betrayal of the trust that Nigerians from all over the country reposed in President Buhari,” the group said in a statement signed by the Chairman, Mr. Solomon Asemota, SAN.
According to the statement, “The National Christian Elders Forum is persuaded that if Nigeria should identify in any way with the Saudi Arabia led coalition, it would send provocative signal to Iran, the main backer of Shiites that Nigeria has aligned itself with Saudi Arabia (Sunni) to the detriment of the Shiites in Nigeria. It is imperative that Nigeria maintains its neutral, non aligned status on internationally contentious issues, whether it is politics, ideologies, or religion. Nigeria should maintain its non-aligned status. Already, statements that cause concern are emanating from Iran concerning the conflict between the Nigerian Army and the Shiites led by Sheik El-Zakzaky.”
The forum appealed for calm so that the present security challenges do not degenerate into a Sunni versus Shiite conflict in Nigeria. “We are fully aware that contention between these two groups contributed in no small measure to the terrible escalation of the Syrian crisis. Every effort should be made to ensure that (Shiite) Iran does not enter into this conflict under its global contention with (Sunni) Saudi Arabia. These nations have a habit of exporting their conflicts into foreign lands which then becomes the battleground,” it said.
The Christian Elders however declared that “there is no iota of truth in a video report credited to an Iranian television station in which an Iranian lecturer posited that a ‘triangle of evil’ composing of the Nigerian Army, Boko Haram, and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have combined to destroy Shiites in Nigeria! We wonder under which ideology would CAN team up with Boko Haram to destroy an Islamic sect.”
According to the forum, “Apart from its sheer absurdity, this dangerous statement should not be dismissed because it is calculated to beat the drums of war in far away Iran to mobilise Muslim Shiites to attack Nigerian Christians. The Nigerian Church has suffered tremendously under Sunni Boko Haram; the emergence of Shiite backed insurgency in Nigeria must be avoided at all costs.”
The group appealed to President Buhari “to take urgent steps to strengthen Liberal Democracy in Nigeria through the implementation of the National Conference Report and heed the call of Nigerians for a new Constitution for the nation.”
“We feel greatly encouraged with the President’s recent statement, widely published on NTA 16/12/15, that ‘strengthening the Nation’s Democracy and Security for all remains his greatest passion while the war against corruption is an effort towards a better Nigeria’, and wish to encourage him to remain firmly on this path, as this is the only way of survival for a densely religiously plural society such as ours,” the forum stated.