The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) met with the British High Commissioner, Mr. Paul Arkwright, on Wednesday 2nd May, 2018 in Abuja to solicit the support and intervention of the British Government for the setting up of Truth, Peace, and Reconciliation Commission in Nigeria.
The Christian Elders are persuaded that in order to bring healing, forgiveness and reconciliation to Nigeria, there must be Truth and Reconciliation Commission that would enable all aggrieved persons/groups express their grievances and seek redress for all acts of injustice.
The NCEF also demanded the payment of compensation to individuals and groups that have been affected in the wave of Islamic insurgencies in Nigeria.
While not making any commitment, the British High Commissioner agreed that the idea of Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a good one to promote peace and reconciliation in the country.
The Christian Elders also used the opportunity to seek the intervention of the British Government to secure the release of Leah Sharibu as well as the remaining Chibok girls still in the captivity of Boko Haram.
Below is the Executive Summary of the issues raised by the NCEF during the meeting.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF ISSUES
The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) is an arm of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and it is made up of Christian Elders from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. Average age on the Forum is 75 years. The Christians Elders have served the nation in various high ranking capacities and they offer advisory, mediatory, and reconciliatory interventions to the Church.
The Christian Elders have the privilege of seeing Nigeria pre and post independence and are concerned at the direction the country is taking. Current events in the country seem to have turned the glorious dreams of the founding fathers of Nigeria into a nightmare.
It is clear to the Christian Elders that JIHAD has been launched in Nigeria by the Islamists of northern Nigeria led by the Fulani ethnic group. This Jihad is based on the Doctrine of Hate taught in Mosques and Islamic Madrasas in northern Nigeria as well as the supremacist ideology of the Fulani. Using both conventional (violent) Jihad, and stealth (civilization) Jihad, the Islamists of northern Nigeria seem determined to turn Nigeria into an Islamic Sultanate and replace Liberal Democracy with Sharia as the National Ideology. The object of course, is to supplant the Constitution with Sharia as the source of legislation. The current 1999 Constitution is plagued with dual conflicting ideology of Democracy and Sharia. There are certain values which are non-negotiable in a pluralistic society and it seems the advocates of the Caliphate do not respect this. A dual-ideology-driven Nigeria cannot be the Nigeria of our dream. We want a Nigeria, where citizens are treated equally before the law at all levels.
Bearing in mind that Christians constitute over 50% of the Nigerian population, the goal of the Islamists is bound to create serious conflicts which if not checked is capable of escalating into another civil war. Already, the Islamists are murdering Christians with impunity and destroying vulnerable Christian places of worship and communities at an alarming and inhuman rate. Nigeria does not require an agitation for the introduction of the full blown laws of any one Religion (be it Ecclesiastical law or Sharia law) in the Constitution of Nigeria (as it was surreptitiously done under the past military dictatorships), but a Legal system that is made up of the “irreducible minimums” of all existing religions and cultural orientations, into what is called a “Common or Civil Law”, that is applicable (equally) to all citizens, irrespective of Religion and Ethnicity.
Any war situation in Nigeria is bound to negatively impact Africa as a continent and put tremendous pressure on Europe, particularly Great Britain, and the United States of America. Therefore, it is in the best interest of Western powers to intervene before the situation spirals out of control. Presently, Muslim persecution of Christians in northern and Middle-Belt Nigeria by Boko Haram and Islamist Fulani herders contributes to making these regions some of the most dangerous places on earth to be a Christian. International Christian Concern and USCIRF in a 2015 Report listed Nigeria and Central African Republic as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC). Nigeria is again listed in 2017 Report as CPC.
The National Christian Elders Forum therefore, bearing in the mind the relationship between Britain and the Fulanis, before and after the Amalgamation of Nigeria, appeals to the British Government to join in calling the Fulanis to order. Presently, the Fulanis have recruited the Hausa and Kanuri Muslims into the Islamization Agenda thereby setting the Negroid race in Nigeria against the Negro race. If the 386 Negro ethnic nationalities in Nigeria should clash with the 3 ethnic groups that make up the Negroid race, the conflict will disintegrate the Nigerian state. Recent pronouncements by Islamic fundamentalist groups re-asserting the Sardauna’s claim that Nigeria belongs to the Muslim Fulani by virtue of their descent from Uthman Dan Fodio is fueling the present jihad. The Fulani Muslim’s onslaught against Plateau State and other ethnic minority non Muslims in Middle-Belt States can be best explained in the context of the broader Islamic expansionist agenda of Uthman Dan Fodio touted by the Sardauna of Sokoto in 1960.
Like Winston Churchill noted, “jaw, jaw” is better than “war, war”. Therefore, the NCEF solicits the support of the British Government to press for the establishment of TRUTH, PEACE, AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION in Nigeria as the basis for providing healing, reconciliation and forgiveness as well as Restructuring the country. The NCEF affirms that reconciliation is the highest form of forgiveness.
The NCEF is also concerned about the excesses of the Buhari Administration manifested in flagrant violation of the Constitution and the compromise of the Security Units in the country. There is the need for President Buhari to be advised to exercise authority in the interest of all Nigerians and not with preference for his Fulani ethnic group alone.
As the nation prepares for the next General Elections in 2019, there are genuine reasons to call on the Government not to compromise true Democratic process. Votes must count, underage voters must not be tolerated, non-citizens should not have access into the country to vote and more importantly, the result of a free and fair election must be peacefully accepted as demonstrated by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
The National Christian Elders Forum wish to state that Christians are willing to live in peace will all other citizens of Nigeria, irrespective of religious beliefs or cultural affiliation. We expect our fellow citizens to reciprocate. To date, we have been severely provoked by the Islamists who seem to translate our patience into weakness. We should make clear that we shall not fold our hands and watch all that we hold dear, primarily our liberty and right to live, trampled upon by religious extremists whose worldview is not consistent with 21st Century realities.
The NCEF appeals to the British Government to intervene while the situation can still be salvaged. A stitch in time saves nine.
We advocate and recommend, as follows:
A Nigeria where, in the words of our Independence National anthem, “Though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand”.
URGENTLY, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Restructuring of the country to conform to True Federalism.
Removal of Government sponsorship of Religious Pilgrimages and the making of Section 10 of the Constitution justiciable.
Immediate INVENTORY, ASSESSMENT AND PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION FOR LIVES AND PROPERTY LOST TO ISLAMIC INSURGENCY AND JIHAD IN THE COUNTRY.
Finally, we request the urgent intervention of the British Government to secure the release of Leah Sharibu as well as the remaining 113 girls from Chibok still in captivity of Muslim insurgents.
Thank you and God bless you.
Solomon Asemota, SAN
Wed. 2nd May, 2018