President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday warned Nigerians, especially religious leaders, to desist from seeing terrorists acts ad a religious war.
Responding to allegations by the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) that Christians have been victims of persecution and killings in some parts of the country, the president said Nigerians must be united in their resolve to fight terrorism and ensure that peace reigns in the country.
In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, the president said Nigerians must ensure they do not subscribe to terrorists’ message of division.
The statement reads: “The security forces of Nigeria are working continuously to return those taken hostage by Boko Haram to their families, friends and communities. In doing this, the government has full confidence in their ability to accomplish the task.
“The government has condemned some of the appalling acts of terror, especially following the festive period. Yet, to continue to see these happenings solely in religious terms – removed from social, economic and environmental factors – simplifies complexities that must be heeded. Not seeing them as they should be is exactly what Boko Haram and groups wish: they want Nigerians to see their beliefs as reason to turn against one another. Boko Haram should be the happiest, seeing our religious leaders tearing at one another.
“Happily, a majority of our citizens, Christians and Muslims are united in their opposition to the terrorist group and the hatred for decency that the infamous group stands for.
“Nigerians must continue to be united in ensuring that they do not subscribe to its message of division. Unfortunately, some leaders and politicians seek to make political capital from our religious differences. As we fight Boko Haram on the ground, so too must we tackle their beliefs: stability and unity in face of their hatred is itself a rejection of their worldview.
“This government shall never tolerate religious intolerance. We clearly and unambiguously restate our support for the freedom to practice whichever belief you wish. The politicisation of religion – as forbidden by the constitution – has no place in Nigeria.
“What this country needs urgently at the moment is addressing rampant unemployment, alleviating poverty and delivering long-delayed infrastructure. We urgently need jobs, economic growth and relief from debilitating corruption. The President does not wish to be distracted from this major focus by divisive politics promoting religion and accusations and counter accusations on baseless religious issues.”