Chairman of the Local Organising Committee organised by the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP), Imam Muh’d Sani Isah (right), speaking during a town hall meeting organised by forum at the Interfaith Mediation Centre in Kaduna. Listening with keen interest are Leader of the IDFP advocacy team (left) to Kaduna State and Co-Chairman (Muslim) of the IDFP, Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sani and Co-Publicity Secretary of the forum, Elder Julian Uzoaku Williams. Pix: IDFP
The Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) has hosted members of the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), urging them to maintain peace.
The event which held at the Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) in Kaduna, had in attendance, prominent clergy men and women.
Speaking at the mini town hall meeting, the Chairman of the JNI in Kajuru Local Government Area in Kaduna State, Alhaji Dahiru Abubakar Kajuru, lamented that since people no longer fear God, “people now take refuge in religion in order to commit crimes and unleash violence on their fellow human beings.
“The late premier of the Northern region taught us on the need for adherents of various faiths to love another and understand the differences in their religions. He had maintained that it was only when Muslims and Christians love and understand themselves that peace can prevail. But now, we do not have respect for the true teachings of our religions. Our religious leader do not practise what they preach. Hypocrisy has taken over and we have left God, and no matter how many times we pray, we cannot find peace.
“We should educate our people to live harmoniously with one another for peace to return. People should eschew bitterness and love one another. We cannot continue like this. For peace to be achieved sincerity and justice must have its way amongst us,” he said.
The Kaduna State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) who was represented by the Secretary, Rev (Dr) Sunday Ibrahim, lamented that the state has become polarized along religious lines. Apart from the absence of equity in appointments across religious divide, CAN called for sincerity in addressing issues of marginalisation.
“Sincerity is key to resolving issues of injustice and crises facing Kaduna State. Poverty should be tackled in order to work together as one. Appointments by governments at all levels should reflect all sides in order to give everyone a sense of belonging,” he noted.
CAN debunked any form of crisis between herders and farmers as, “the Fulani we used to know and with whom we live with still carry sticks and not guns. Those killing our people and unleashing violence on communities are criminal and murderers and government should tackle them for peace to reign.”
MACBAN Kaduna state Secretary, Musa Mohammed Gambo aligned his view to the JNI’s submission that lamented on how adherents of the two religions have deviated from the true teachings as contained in the holy books.
He declared that as long as Fulani are denied lands for grazing, the crisis may persist. He called on government to work on the grazing routes that have been taken over by farmers, adding, “How can you deny Fulani grazing area and expect peace? Allow us access to land to graze our animals. Most of our members are being arrested by soldiers in Birnin Gwari. I call on this body to visit some of the detention centres in order to ensure people do not get punished unjustly.”
Hajiya Amina S. Kazaure of the Women Interfaith Council, said there was need to unite people to make them appreciate the true value of religion. This, according to her, can only be achieved when people work towards imbibing good teachings as contained in the holy books.
“As a group, we have identified the vulnerabilities of women and children in times of crisis. After the Kasuwan Magani crisis, we trained women and provided them with some funds in order to empower them. I request that more forums be created to get women involved in issues that concern our common humanity so that peace can be achieved.
“Our Imams and pastors play key roles in our society and they should be appealed upon to exercise caution and peace in exercising such roles. They should understand the need for caution and use their offices for the promotion of peace and dialogue among their members,” she said.
Chairperson of the Women Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Mrs Ruth Joshua Magaji, said women and children bear the brunt of crisis and called for the promotion of processes that can encourage peace and resolve societal problems.
“We know the influence of parents on children. We should be engaged in teaching our children the true value of religion that places emphasis on our common humanity, no matter our religious belief. We have been engaged in organising empowerment programmes and encourage our women to teach their children,” she added.
Speaking earlier, the leader of the advocacy team to Kaduna State, who is also the Co-Chairman (Muslim) of the IDFP, Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sani, told participants that the interfaith forum was in Kaduna in continuation of its advocacy programme aimed at identifying causes for the ongoing killings and crisis in the country, especially in the northern parts of the country.
“The IDFP advocacy teams have so far visited the states of Zamfara, Benue and Plateau. As I speak to you, another team is in Taraba state on a similar mission. The essence of these visits is to interact with stakeholders and get the facts on why these crisis persists. We understand there are so many factors responsible for these killings and violence, but hearing from critical stakeholders who are on ground will go a long way in proffering lasting solutions,” he said.
The Legal Adviser of the IDFP, Barr. Danladi Yerima, said the search for peace in Nigeria should be an all-inclusive affair, with every stakeholder committed to its realisation. He called on religious leaders and other groups engaged in the promotion for peaceful co-existence not to cave in to despair. The Co-Publicity Secretary of the IDFP, Elder Julian Uzoaku Williams, expressed delight with the quality of discussion and noted that the team was highly appreciative of participants’ frank views, adding, “Our being here as a team is to encourage the promotion of peace and be availed of the facts on the ground.”
Another member of the IDFP advocacy team, Imam Fuad Adeyemi, expressed happiness with the interest displayed by participants at the town hall meeting and noted with confidence that, considering the views expressed by the various groups that attended the event, the hope for the return of peace was realisable. Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and Co-Publicity Secretary of the IDFP, Imam Muh’d Sani Isah, thanked the various groups for attending the event. Other members of the IDFP that were at the town hall meeting also included Mr Akangbe Oludele and Imam Mustapha Balogun.
Some of the stakeholders that attended the town hall meeting included the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN), Young Men’s Cristian Association (YMCN) and the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).