Religious leaders under the aegis of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council on Tuesday met behind closed doors with President Goodluck Jonathan in continuation of the Federal Government’s bid to find a lasting solution to the violence by the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
The religious leaders were led to the meeting, which was held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, by the President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, and the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
Both of them are co-chairmen of NIREC.
Other members of the delegation were the Executive Secretary of NIREC, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede; Secretary-General of NSCIA, Dr. Lateef Adegbite; Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Revd. Ambrose Okoh; Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Ola Makinde; and Dr. Sheikh Lemu, among others.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, Oloyede said Abubakar and Oritsejafor alongside some other members of NIREC made some suggestions to the President on ways to improve the security situation in the country.
Although he did not disclose the details, Oloyede, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, said the suggestions which were new, would lead to improved security if implemented.
He said, “We want all the people in this country to know that we are together in this boat and the boat should not be rocked and we should do everything possible to live harmoniously together because if God had wished, he would have made us a monolithic nation. The plurality of this country is a strength and it should be made to be so.”
Oloyede said the religious leaders’ suggestions were well received by the President who, he added, also availed them with some of the steps being taken by the government to curtail the insecurity.
In a statement issued after the meeting by the Special Adviser on Media to the President, Reuben Abati, President Jonathan urged members of NIREC to take a united position to commend or condemn positive or negative actions and utterances of groups and individuals that may threaten the peace of the nation.
The President acknowledged the security challenges confronting the country, but said government would continue to do its best, adding that this was a passing phase in the nation’s development.
Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday received and considered the report of its Joint Committees on National Security and Intelligence; Defence and Army and Foreign Affairs on the failed rescue attempt of the British and Italian nationals abducted by the Boko Haram sect.
The consideration of the report, which lasted for about two hours, was done behind closed doors, given its sensitive nature.
Although the contents of the report were yet to be made public, it was learnt that the committee strongly recommended the employment of dialogue in quelling the spate of terrorist attacks.
In a related development, an umbrella body of Northern Muslim, Jama’atu Nasril Islam on Tuesday in Kaduna condemned Oritsejafor over his claims that Muslims were responsible for the series of bombing in parts of the North.
In a statement by its Secretary General, Dr. Khalid Aliyu, the JNI asked the CAN leader to explain why Christians hid under the garb of Muslims to perpetrate terrorism in the country.
The group urged the leadership of CAN to “stop chasing shadows” as Muslims were being vindicated as to who actually carry out crime against the state.