Member Area

National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) has noted the alarm raised by some Muslims, particularly from the northern parts of the country, that a Mosque building was “demolished” by the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike. In a sharply religiously divergent society that Nigeria has become in recent years, such outcry is of tremendous concern to those who understand the implications.

A coalition of religious organisations in Nigeria has recommended the setting up of religious equity commission to manage issues  affecting religion in Nigeria.
The group made the demand  after a conference on religious freedom organised in Lagos to commemorate this year’s international day to observe the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion, Belief, or Faith, declared by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
 
The event was jointly organised by the National Christian Elders Forum, Christian Socialist Movement of Nigeria, Voice of Christian Martyrs and International Christian Foundation for Democracy (United States).

INTERNATIONAL DAY COMMEMORATING THE VICTIMS OF ACTS OF VIOLENCE BASED ON RELIGION, BELIEF, OR FAITH

REPORT OF PRESS CONFERENCE HELD IN LAGOS ON 22ND AUGUST, 2019

PREAMBLE

Following the Declaration by the General Assembly of United Nations that 22nd August of each year should be marked as International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion, Belief, or Faith, the religious community in Nigeria marked the Day with a Press Conference held in Lagos, Nigeria.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

INTERNATIONAL DAY COMMEMORATING THE VICTIMS OF ACTS OF VIOLENCE BASED ON RELIGION, BELIEF OR FAITH
22nd August, 2019

POLITICS OF RELIGION: ROOT OF NIGERIAN CRISIS

On 28th May, 2019, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Document A/73/L.85 and passed a resolution approving 22nd August as International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Base on Religion, Belief or Faith. The advocacy for an International Day for Religious Freedom was started by Ms. Ewelina Ochab, a legal researcher and human rights advocate.

In compliance with the UN resolution adopting 22nd August as International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on their Religion, Belief or Faith, Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN), in collaboration with leaders of Islam, Traditional Religion, International Christian Foundation for Democracy (ICFD), and Voice of Christian Martyrs (VOCM) shall convene a Press Conference to commemorate the first International Day of Religious Freedom.

In seeking to resolve critical issues in the Church and in the country, what should be our Rules of Engagement?
Should our engagement be pacifist or militant?
 
To answer these questions we should consider two things:
 
1. What does the Lord say?
2. What is the opposite side doing?

It is very disturbing to observe the ease with which Nigerian elites, particularly the Christians, are dribbled and sent on wild goose chase on very sensitive national issues. There is the need therefore to re-state the core issues that are causing problems in Nigeria and what constitutes the solution. At this rate, those who have constituted themselves into enemies of Nigeria are having cheap victory.

Following an unprecedented rise of violence against religious communities and people belonging to religious minorities, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution proclaiming 22 August as International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on their Religion, Belief or Faith, amongst other matters.

According to a UN Report, “by terms of the text ‘International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief’ (document A/73/L.85), the Assembly invited all Member States, the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil societies and the private sector, to observe the International Day.”

Chairman Solomon Asemota of the National Christian Elders Forum of Nigeria speaking at The George Washington University in Washington, DC as part of the U.S. State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. His visit to the United States was hosted by the International Christian Foundation for Democracy (ICFD).

- RIGHTS LAWYER TASKS US TOP AFRICA DIPLOMAT ON TRUMP POLICY

America’s top diplomat for Africa has admitted there is a religious component of the farmer herder conflict in Nigeria. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, ambassador Tibor Nagy stated this in response to queries from international human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe during the recent Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the US State Department.

The report documents the increasing scale and severity of Fulani militant attacks against predominantly Christian farming communities in Nigeria and chronicles at least 52 Fulani militant attacks between the start of 2019 and June 12.

“Nearly every single day, I wake up with text messages from partners in Nigeria, such as this morning: ‘Herdsmen stab 49-year-old farmer to death in Ogan,’” human rights lawyer and Jubilee Campaign Director Ann Buwalda said during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C, this month. 

To: The National Assembly
Christian Association of Nigeria

I arrived London, United Kingdom on the 20th of May 2019 on holidays when a Nigerian Anglican Bishop asked if I had come to attend the Hearing in the UK All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Freedom of Religion and Belief (IFoRB) Nigeria Inquiry. This information made me attend the Hearing the following morning, the 21st of May 2019 at Committee Room 20 in the House of Commons at The British House of Parliament. I was accompanied by an Elder in Diaspora and to our amazement a Nigerian Archbishop was making his presentation. What the Archbishop said in his presentation can be summarized as: "Yes there are killings in Nigeria, Yes the killings are on both sides but they are as a result of poverty and lack of education". All attempts made by me to be allowed to comment were ignored by the Chair who is a female member of the British House of Lords. At the conclusion of the Hearing, she promised to pass on all the information obtained at the Inquiry to the British Parliament.

In response to the request of the All Party Parliamentary Groups of the UK Parliament for “written submissions” for an Inquiry “into the on-going violence between farmers and herders in Nigeria”, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) made a submission on 3rd June, 2019. In response to this submission of the NCEF which was reported in the media on 27th June, 2019 that the Government of President Buhari, through the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, wrote to the British Parliament denying persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

25th June, 2019
The Editor
The Nation Newspaper
Lagos

Dear Sir,

REJOINDER TO THE NATION NEWSPAPER:
“HOW CAN PRESIDENT AYOKUNLE WAS RE-ELECTED”

For the second time in two months, the NCEF is compelled to write and correct wrong impressions created about the Christian Elders by journalists of The Nation Newspaper. On 18th April, 2019, the NCEF had to issue a rejoinder to an article by Mr. Sam Omatseye titled “What kind of Elders?” Again, in the wake of the recently conducted election of CAN, Mr. Sunday Oguntola, another journalist with The Nation newspaper made comments in his article “How CAN President Ayokunle Was Re-elected”, published in The Nation on Sunday 23rd June, 2019 which NCEF considers disturbing and should be corrected. We hope The Nation would publish this rejoinder the same way it published the original article.

REJOINDER – “INSECURITY, ALLEGED ISLAMIZATION: PETITION BY CHRISTIAN ELDERS, PRANK TO SCORE CHEAP POLITICAL POINTS”

This rejoinder is in response to the publication in Vanguard Newspaper of 7th June, 2019, with heading: "Insecurity, alleged Islamization: Petition by Christian elders, prank to score cheap political points - by Muslim Groups.”

It is unfortunate that Muslim Groups would make such claims of “prank to score cheap political points” against the Christian Elders as no member of NCEF is neither a politician nor have anything to gain from political patronage. The claim is divisive, which rather than contribute to the efforts of the Christian Elders to find a peaceful and lasting solution to current national crisis, and ensure Nigeria can benefit from the gains of democracy, like other advanced democratic countries around the world, is trying to cause disaffection amongst the people.