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2023: Nigerian religious bodies sign peace pact

Ukamaka Okafor, Abuja

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The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, have signed a peace pact to de-escalate religious tensions and ensure peaceful and secure atmosphere in the nation ahead of the 2023 elections.

The peace accord was signed at the International Religious Freedom Summit 2022 organised by the Global Peace Foundation and 70 international human rights and religious freedom organisations in Washington D.C.

President-General NSCIA, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, was represented by Professor Yusuf Usman while the apex Christian body was represented by its immediate past President, Reverend Samson Ayokunle.

Speaking on the peace accord, Reverend Ayokunle said the leadership of the umbrella Muslim and Christian organisations have pledged to continue to work together, avoid violence, embrace dialogue and remain committed to building resilient communities that are free from fear.

Common Humanity
He added that the two religious bodies also promised to embrace a vision of a common humanity and speak publicly of hope for Nigeria’s peaceful and bright future.

Ayokunle noted that the accord had become necessary because there are many Christians and Muslims in Nigeria who abhor violence and choose peaceful coexistence.

He thanked the Sultan of Sokoto for his swiftness in condemning attacks.

We will only build a stronger Nigeria that is able to tackle these urgent ones that are destroying our country from lack of security, accountability, and corruption, to conflicts between different peoples and faiths, to hunger and the economic situation, if we religious leaders determine together to truly lead our people,” he added.

Peaceful Nigeria
Reverend Ayokunle further noted that NSCIA and CAN consider it important to sign the Declaration for a peaceful and secure Nigeria, and to do so on the world stage.

The Declaration we signed lays out a number of principles that we believe all Nigerians can readily affirm.”

“It states that all people are endowed by the Creator with inherent value and fundamental rights, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, culture, religion  or the many other differences that often divide us, and that the essential freedom and dignity of every person must be respected and protected,” he stated.

Democratic Elections
Ayokunle added that they also pledged to demand that free and fair democratic elections should be conducted in peace and for the benefit of all Nigerians regardless of ethnicity, religion or geographical zone.

Especially with the upcoming elections, we note with grave concern that politicians and government representatives, and sometimes religious representatives as well, have not taken seriously their full duty to promote peace and harmony amongst the people of Nigeria, which has contributed to numerous crises for our nation,” he added.

Ayokunle identified some of the crises as the concerns of political representation and the possibility of a genuinely democratic governance; the questions of judicial integrity and fairness; the issues of governmental bias, corruption, and inaction.

But far more importantly, we must share a fundamental commitment to the unity of Nigeria and to work collaboratively toward solutions through peaceful and respectful means, affirming the dignity of one another and our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. We call upon all religious and political leaders, and all people of faith, to develop and promote solutions that are grounded in the shared values of our common humanity, and which protect and uplift the value, dignity and fundamental rights endowed by God to every person.”

“We, finally, affirm that religious leaders play a special role in leading their communities, and have a duty to shepherd their communities in a way that promotes peace,” he added.

 

N.O

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