The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar III, has insisted that there is no persecution of Christians in Nigeria, especially in the northern region.
Abubakar was reacting to claims by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other Christian bodies that there an agenda to exterminate Christians in the country.
Speaking on Thursday at the first quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in Abuja, the royal father acknowledged the insecurity in the land, but noted both Christians and Muslims were equally being killed in large numbers by terrorists and bandits.
He also urged religious leaders not to allow terrorists bring division across the country. Sa’ad Abubakar said:
““It pains me when we gather at NIREC or other meetings and agree on measures that would promote religious peace, unity and tolerance; but shortly after, you will begin to hear stories of persecution here and there.
“If we go out shouting, marching, dancing and singing that people of a particular religion are being persecuted and killed, you also forgot people of other religions are also affected in the killings by same enemies of the state.
“We must not allow terrorists to come in between us and divide us. If we mistakenly do, then we are finished. There is nothing wrong with any religious organisation marching on the street to call for God’s interventions in a particular issue. But we shouldn’t make a show of such things because we want to be visible and therefore bring more problems to the nation.
“We have been reading and hearing reports about the persecution of Christians in Nigeria and I keep asking myself: how? Christians are being killed, Muslims are also being killed and they are all lives created by God.
“For me, there is no persecution of anybody in this country. If you claim there is a persecution of Christians in Nigeria, there would also be claims of persecution of Muslims, but that would not solve the problem.
“People claim they are denied places to build mosques, churches in some parts of the country. But the right thing to do in such case is to approach relevant authorities and not to make claims of persecution.
“I can quote from now till the next 100 years of things that have been done or not done to Muslims, but we usually approach relevant authorities in ways that we believe would bring solutions to the problems.”
Abubakar knocked the CAN leadership, stressing that there was unity and commitment to address the nation’s challenges when Cardinal John Onaiyekan was the President of the Christian body.
This is coming weeks after the Sultan said God is using Boko Haram insurgency to punish Nigerians for their sins and for disobeying his commands through the years.