A Moslem scholar, Professor Kyari Mohammed of Modibo Adama University has described the Boko insurgence as a war against humanity that goes beyond the issue of killing for religion; adding that the group is a local group with global ambition. Professor Mohammed made this submission in his presentation at the opening ceremony of the Interfaith Dialogue Committee Meeting, held recently at the SMA House Abuja.
The programme was organized by the Catholic Bishops Regional Conference of West Africa (RECOWA), in conjunction with the Mission and Dialogue department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN). The theme of the meeting was Religious Extremism and Its Challenges on Interfaith Dialogue in Western Africa. It was attended by stakeholder group leaders from the sub-region.
Professor Mohammed, an expert on religioius terrorism, gave the genesis of the Boko Haram fundamentalist group and how its carnage has impacted negatively on the religious extremism in the sub-region. He listed the factors that led to the emergence of the group and similar bodies noting that: “it arose from impunity, bad governance, influence of colonialism and misuse of western education, among others. Pointing out that corruption and other noted vices were termed by the extremists as an offshoot of western education, the erudite scholar noted that viewed from this perspective; “educated people have not been good ambassadors of Western education.
The university professor while calling for a common front to combat religion extremism in the sub-region, stated that even “if Boko Haram ends today, the sub-region will be left with a violent and broken society” because, there all groups in the affected areas have been victims of the insurgency; structures demolished; many have lost their properties and as a result, many people have lost confidence in government.
Suggesting ways of ameliorating the insurgence crisis, the speaker advocated cooperation and collaboration by the governments and other stakeholder groups in the sub-region; adding that, in the case of the Nigerian situation, development of affected areas should be the initiative of the government. He noted: constructive peace building, infrastructural development, support and compensation for affected victims, de-politicization of the crisis, rescue for affected students and school children and rehabilitation of all those who have been part of the insurgency, particularly the civilian Joint Task Force ( JTF) who have assisted the military in fighting the insurgents.
Pointing out that government, religious bodies and civil societies have major roles to play in the rehabilitation process, professor Mohammed noted that apart from providing school structures, the children of the affected areas should be provided with vocational training to make them more useful while adequate consideration should also be given to training and mobilization of community leaders.
Speaking further on the civilian JTF, the professor noted that, if care is not taken, the group might become another violent group that could pose challenges for government in the future.
In his own presentation, the second guest speaker, Professor Oshita Oshita noted that the issue of religious terrorism is a trans border phenomenon with religious colouring; adding: “All terrorist group have the same ideology.” “Thiers is a situation of anarchy with the intention of throwing people against each other to achieve fulfillment; he said.
The Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution in proffering solutions noted the importance of an intra-religious dimension where Moslem and interact more internally, before a joint effort at confronting the situation. He described the Joint Task Force and the remnants of the Boko Haram as possible future challenge, if care is not taken. He stressed the need for necessary structures to deal with this situation. Professor Oshita while calling for a review of the country’s present land policy to accommodate the interests of the majority, as the powerful people have cornered most of the land available; urged religious leaders to speak for the people not for themselves.
In attendance at the opening ceremony of the meeting were: John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Archbishop Augustine Kassuja, the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Nicolas Okoh, Primate of the Anglican Communion, Nigeria; Alhaji Ibrahim Jegga, Imam of the National Mosque, Abuja; Excellency, Desiré Kadre, President of the ECOWAS COMMISSION; His Excellency, Mouftaou Laleye, Ambassador of the Republic of Benin and Dean of all West African Diplomats in Nigeria, His Excellency, Sunday Osagie,
Also present were: ECOWAS Permanent Representative in Nigeria; His Excellency, Gaoussou Toure, Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea in Nigeria; His Excellency, Mahamane AmadouMaiga, Ambassador of the Republic of Mali in Nigeria; His Excellency, KonéEpouse Toure Mamman, Ambassador of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire; His Excellency, Piabie Firmin Grégoire, Ambassador of the Republic of Burkinafaso; the Deputy High Commissioner of Sierra-Leone; Open Society for West Africa (OSIWA), UFUK Dialogue Foundation, the Muslims, Christians from other denominations and the invited guests.
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