CAN Not Conspiring with Army to Destroy Shiites, Say Christian Elders

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 CAN Not Conspiring with Army to Destroy Shiites, Say Christian Elders

The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) has said there is no iota of truth in the allegation by the Iranian government that it is conspiring with the Nigerian Army to fight the Shiites movement in the northern part of Nigeria.

In a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday which was signed by the forum Chairman, Solomon Asemota (SAN), the group urged the federal government not to allow the crisis degenerate.
The group said: "The National Christian Elders Forum wishes to express grave regret and sadness at the recurring decimal of violence and destruction that seem to presently define the northern region of Nigeria. Rather than diminish, this cycle of violence and destruction escalates and expresses itself in differing modes.

"The forum commiserates with the governments, the people of northern Nigeria, and in particular the surviving victims and families who have been affected in the various orgies of violence and destruction that have afflicted Nigeria in general and northern Nigeria in particular."

Asemota further stated that in "view of the need to find lasting solutions to these crises, the NCEF wishes to recommend as follows:
"The traditional, political, religious, academic and commercial leadership of northern Nigeria are under obligation to ensure that religious intolerance, which has become the bane of the North, is eradicated."
The group also observed that: "Lasting peace can only exist in an environment where justice, equality and fairness reign. Northern Nigeria has to imbibe the spirit and the letter of Section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constitution that guarantees freedom of religious belief.

"The current crisis between the Nigerian army and the Shiites occurred as a result of religious tension. Before now, Muslims in the North have consistently waged destructive attacks on Christians and we pray that this current violence will not deteriorate into another Islamic insurgency.
"The forum appeals for calm so that the present security challenges do not degenerate into a Sunni versus Shiite conflict in Nigeria."

The group said: "We are fully aware that contention between these two groups contributed in no small measure to the terrible escalation of the Syrian crisis. Every effort should be made to ensure that (Shiite) Iran does not enter into this conflict under its global contention with (Sunni) Saudi Arabia.

"These nations have a habit of exporting their conflicts into foreign lands which then becomes the battleground."
“We therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to drag Nigeria into the Saudi Arabia led Muslim/Arab coalition against ISIS. Nigeria is neither an Islamic nor an Arab nation.

"The President promised Nigerians before his election that he is now a democrat and has no intention of imposing Sharia or any form of religious domination on the nation.

"If Nigeria should participate in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, it would be a negation of all that the president promised before his election. Such a denial would be a terrible betrayal of the trust that Nigerians from all over the country reposed in him.
"The Christian elders’ forum is persuaded that if Nigeria should identify in any way with the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, it would send provocative signal to Iran, the main backer of Shiites that Nigeria has aligned itself with Saudi Arabia (Sunni) to the detriment of the Shiites in Nigeria."

Asemita contended that: "It is imperative that Nigeria maintains its neutral, non aligned status on internationally contentious issues, whether it is politics, ideologies or religion. Nigeria should maintain its non-aligned status.
"Already, statements that cause concern are emanating from Iran concerning the conflict between the Nigerian army and the Shiites led by Sheik El-Zakzaky.

"The forum therefore wishes to refute publicly and stridently that there is no iota of truth in a video report credited to an Iranian television station in which an Iranian lecturer posited that a "triangle of evil" composing of the Nigerian Army, Boko Haram, and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have combined to destroy Shiites in Nigeria!
"We wonder under which ideology would CAN team up with Boko Haram to destroy an Islamic sect. Apart from its sheer absurdity, this dangerous statement should not be dismissed because it is calculated to beat the drums of war in far away Iran to mobilise Muslim Shiites to attack Nigerian Christians."

The group maintained that: "The Nigerian Church has suffered tremendously under Sunni Boko Haram, therefore, the emergence of Shiite backed insurgency in Nigeria must be avoided at all costs.


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