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Tackle Religious Violence, Rights Activist, Ikimi Urges FG After US Blacklisted Nigeria



President Muhammadu Buhari

Renowned human rights activist, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi Esq, has urged the Federal Government to tackle religious violence in the country.

The legal practitioner made the call in a reaction to the United States of America blacklisting Nigeria for “religious violence. ”

In a telephone chat with our correspondent, Ikimi who doubles as the Executive Director, Centre for the
Vulnerable & Underprivileged, CENTREP noted that religious violence begins with religious intolerance.

“They say we are a secular state but being a secular state, you take all the political appointments, majority of the political appointments in Nigeria today are occupied by the Northerners who are predominantly Muslims.

According to Ikimi, religious violence is “man-made,” saying “it was created by us.”

He said Nigeria should practice what the constitution stipulates stressing, “the Country is a secular State. In the Constitution, it is there but in practice, some religions are favoured than the others.”

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In his words, “Some persons are favoured than the others. I don’t want to mention names. Look at the appointments in the Army, look at the appointments in Immigration, the appointments in Customs, all the appointments, I mean top positions in NNPC, in parastatals, they’re occupied by Northerners from the Muslim religion. This is where the religious intolerance begins from. This religious intolerance, leads to religious violence.

“Political appointments should not be on the basis of religion. It should not be on the religion you belong or where you come from. It should be strictly a secular thing. We must respect one another because there is deep suspicion between the North and the South. Between Christians and Muslims. There is intolerance.

“So, government must address this issues by ensuring that everybody in the country irrespective of your religion, where you come from, government must educate the people (Christians and Muslims) to respect one another. To accommodate one another.

“The issue of equal right and justice should also follow. You can imagine, all the political appointments, 2/3rd if not 90% are occupied by northerners and from the Muslim sects. So, these are the things that are creating religious hostilities.”

Ikimi stressed that, “government has a lot to do but the unfortunate thing is that, our leaders are mentally lazy. They’re not proactive. They’re not forward looking. What they do is acquiring mundane wealth to themselves. They’re greedy and lazy. That’s the problem.

“So, if America blacklists us, except we agree to blacklist ourselves, America blacklisting is irrelevant. What’s important is that we should refuse to blacklist ourselves by doing the right things.

“We must accommodate ourselves irrespective of our religion. We must respect one another irrespective of our religion and where we come from. Justice and equity should always prevail in issues of national interests. These are the things that must prevail. We should not vote for people based on religion. We should not do things of national interest based on religion.

“Somebody was talking of one Arabic in our naira. Those are the things that are causing this religious intolerance. Because the Christians sees it as confrontation. You’re confronting them but that should not be so. But we have allowed over the years to take a larger part of us that we now suspect each other. There is deep suspicion.

“The country is divided along religious lines, along ethnic lines because it started from religious intolerance. It now found its way into ethnic divides. The government has a lot do but my fear is that the government has not even started to do anything but rather, they are creating more divisions.

“America has blacklisted us.That’s America. We should not allow ourselves to be blacklisted. We should resist ourselves being blacklisted. It is when we blacklist ourselves that I will get worried. Not when America blacklists us. What is left for us Nigeria is to take the bull by the horn and address the issues of religious intolerance and not take that American blacklisting by blacklisting ourselves. We should not take it hook, line and sinker. We should look up for other places too. Must we wait for America to blacklist us? There are issues which we are not compatible with America. We can also blacklist them. So,the blacklisting is a wake up call for Government that enough is enough. Let’s turn around and do the right thing.”


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