Killing of eleven Christians: Christian Elders Forum blows hot

• Says Buhari should be held responsible for killings by ISWAP, Boko Haram, herdsmen

Following the killing of 11 Christians on Christmas Day, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) on Sunday expressed anger towards President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to reports, the Christians were reportedly killed by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) after it released two others who were reportedly abducted with them.

Describing the killing of the 11 Christians as unwarranted, NCEF said Buhari should be held responsible for the uncontrolled atrocities of ISWAP, Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.

Though President Buhari had earlier condemned the killing of the Christians and pleaded for calm, NCEF said: “If President Buhari is sincere that Islamic terrorists are ‘godless, callous gangs of mass murderers’, he should immediately reorganise the National Security Units that are solely in the control of Muslims from the North of Nigeria in compliance with the Federal Character Principle in Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution. However, President Buhari has the opportunity to prove us wrong by ensuring that the murderous Fulani herdsmen from his ethnic group are arrested and prosecuted.”

In a statement issued on Sunday by the Chairman of NCEF, Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, noted “the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) joins all Christians worldwide to mourn the unwarranted and callous murder of eleven innocent Nigerian Christians on Christmas Day, 2019.

“Timing the gruesome murder of these innocents Christians to Christmas Day was a certain signal of the Islamic insurgents deliberately desecrating the day in which Christians worldwide marked the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and the central figure of the Christian faith. It was not only a heinous crime, but it was also provocative and insulting.

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“The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari responded in a statement that he was ‘profoundly saddened and shocked by the death of innocent hostages in the hands of remorseless, godless, callous gangs of mass murderers that have given Islam a bad name through their atrocities’. He further went on to appeal that ‘We should, under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims because these barbaric killers don’t represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world’.

The Christian elders maintained that the remedy to the problem of terrorism in Nigeria is for democracy to remain the only national ideology as designed by the founding fathers of this country.

Reacting to the comment credited to the Sultan on Sokoto over the prosecution of Christians, the statement said: “NCEF would want to conclude that his Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto was misquoted as this statement coming from a traditional ruler of his stature would not accord with statesmanship. Denying the obvious under the circumstances could hardly be described as a suitable solution to problems threatening the corporate existence of the country.

“The National Christian Elders Forum would not want to link this statement with another statement of the Sultan in 2011 in Havard, USA, in which his Eminence said, ‘I do not recognise any Nigerian Constitution and the only constitution I recognise is the Koran’. This pregnant statement which outrightly rejected democracy and accepted Sharia could easily be interpreted to have escalated the current Sharia-induced religious insurgency and intolerance in Nigeria.”

The elders thereby called on President Buhari and the Sultan of Sokoto, as Muslims, and leaders of the Islamic Ummah to initiate a dialogue with the rest of the country to find a solution to the problems caused by religious differences.

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