Christian, Muslim leaders in Nigeria decry Christmas eve bombings
Christian and Muslim leaders came together recently to condemn the Christmas eve bomb blasts in Jos, Plateau state and Maiduguri, Borno State which together left 86 people dead and over 100 wounded.
Three days later, on Tuesday, unknown men fired shots in a teaching hospital in Maiduguri killing three, one of them a senior police officer, Reuters reported.
In a press conference in Lagos, Pastor Ayodele Joseph Oritsejafor, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, and Sultan Alhaji Mohammad Sa;ad Abubakar III of the Sokoto Caliphate and President General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, condemned the violence which they had a religious color but was politically motivated, The Nigeria Bulletin said.
The Sultan told the media, “We need to really go deep down to know what is causing these crises,” implying that local politicians may be using innocent Nigerians to foment the violence, The Guardian said.
Oritsejafor said, “There are people in the country, who do not want peace to reign, who do not want elections to hold, so they have devised strategies to make this country ungovernable,” The Guardian reported.
Elections are slated for April, 2011 and are hotly contested in a country of 140 million, making it the most populous nation in Africa, Reuters reported.
Oritsejafor noted that most Nigerians want elections to be held on schedule next year. He told media men, “Our advice to them is to uphold the ‘RSVP’ strategy, which means ‘Register, Select, Vote and Protect’ your votes,” The Guardian reported.
Both the Sultan and Oritsejafor co-chair the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, an organization that seeks to instill a culture of peace, unity and tolerance, according to The Guardian.
The leaders also decried Boko Haram, a sect in Maiduguri that has claimed responsibility for the attacks on its website. In a joint statement that they issued at the conference, they said, “It is ungodly, barbaric and inhuman to take the life of a fellow human being unjustifiably,” The Guardian reported.
Islam and Christianity are the dominant religions in Nigeria, and are roughly equal in number. According to Reuters, most Muslims do not espouse the views of the Boko Haram, which models itself after the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In English, Boko Haram means “Western education is sinful.” The group, which is based in one of the poorest regions in Nigeria, seeks to impose shariah law in the country, Reuters reported.