The umbrella body of Muslims in the North, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, on Thursday accused Christians in the region of disguising as Muslims to raze churches in order to create disharmony in the country.
The JNI also warned all “Christian zealots in Nigeria” to stop taking for granted, Muslims who “constitute a majority of people living in the North.”
But spokesman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 Northern states and Abuja, Sunday Oibe, described the allegation by JNI as “baseless.”
Oibe said it was unthinkable that Christians would disguise to burn churches in the North.
The JNI asked the Federal Government and the nation’s security agencies to immediately launch investigation into what it described as act of terrorism perpetrated by Christians in the North.
The group, in a statement issued at the end of its three-day retreat, also tackled the President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, for making what it called “unguarded ulterance capable of eroding the long existing cordial relationship between Muslims and Christians in the country.”
The JNI statement which was signed by its General Secretary, Dr. Khalid Aliyu, therefore advised Oritsejafor to call on Christians in the North to stop perpetrating acts of terrorism “while mischievously disguising as Muslims.”
It warned that the JNI would no longer tolerate the alleged “double face attitude.”
The statement reads in part, “Participants condemn in totality, the ongoing spate of bombings and killings of guiltless Nigerians irrespective of their regional, religious or ethnic inclinations. JNI calls on Nigerians to shun violence and embrace peaceful means of settling their legitimate grievances.
“JNI urges the Federal Government to call the president of CAN to order before he causes religious crisis in the country, through his unguided utterances which have started eroding the long built mutual respect between Muslims and Christians. CAN president must direct his people to stop mischievously disguising as Muslims in perpetrating acts of terrorism.
“The meeting calls on federal and affected state governments as well as all security agents to, as a matter of urgency, investigate the several reported cases of Christians who disguise as Muslims to burn churches. JNI can no longer tolerate this double face attitude.
“The President of CAN, instead of contributing positively towards achieving national cohesion has rather chosen the path of insinuation and therefore overheating the polity.”
The JNI also accused security agencies and “the Christian-dominated Southern media” of bias against Muslims and in their handling of the issues involving the militant Islamic sect, the Boko Haram.
“There are so many contradictions and confusion in the way the issue of Boko Haram is handled by security agents and the media. Majority of the media establishment in the country, especially the Christian-dominated southern media, have always demonstrated bias against Islam and Muslims.”
It therefore advised Muslims to remain vigilant and report to the authorities any case of “injustice and maltreatment meted out to any Muslim, either by “Christian extremists or bad elements among the security agents. The group advised that “copies of the complaints should be sent to the state offices of JNI attached with a comprehensive report of the incidents.”
The JNI further expressed doubt on the claims by President Goodluck Jonathan that members of the Boko Haram have infiltrated his government.
It said, “We condemn in strong terms, all acts of terrorism perpetrated by any group in Nigeria as we remain confused regarding whether the Boko Haram members are known by the government as clearly stated that they are in the government or they are faceless (as claimed by the National Security Adviser).
“We also call on the media to always be fair in reporting of issues as that is the only way we can understand issues as they are and take appropriate measures to address them.”
The Northern CAN spokesman however said JNI was merely trying “to divert attention.”
He said, “It is very irrational for any right thinking person to say that a Christian could disguise as a Muslim to go and throw bomb at churches and kill people in places like Madalla, Jos, Maiduguri, Adamawa, Damaturu and other places.
“If they don’t know, let them be aware that the President of CAN speaks the mind of Nigerian Christians, particularly Christians in the North and we are solidly behind him.
“The Boko Haram Islamic sect and their sponsors are those who are heating up the polity and not the President of CAN. JNI should be ashamed of making this baseless accusation.”
Meanwhile, barely two days after a police anti-bomb officer, Sunday Badang, was killed in an explosion in the Angwan Rimi area of Kaduna metropolis, another object suspected to be a bomb was on Thursday discovered in the Kabala Doki area of the city.
Officials of the Police Anti-Bomb Squad however succeeded in detonating the bomb.
Vigilant residents of the area who suspected the content of the polythene bag had alerted the anti-bomb squad which deployed its men in the scene to detonate the bomb.
“At about 6.30pm, people started running helter skelter because of a bomb hidden in a nylon bag in this area. We all became very confused and scared. But thank God the police came and detonated it,” a resident in the area, Awal Mohammed, said.