National Christian Elders Forum
Motto: Watch & Pray that we may be one ...
National Christian Centre, CAN Headquarters,
Central Area, Garki, Abuja
LET PEACE REIGN
The National Christian Elders Forum wishes to express grave regret and great sadness at
the recurring decimal of violence and destruction that seem to, presently, define the
northern region of Nigeria. Rather than diminish, this cycle of violence and destruction
escalates and expresses itself in differing modes and formats.
The National Christian Elders Forum commiserates with the governments, the people of
northern Nigeria, and in particular the surviving victims and families that have been
affected in the various orgies of violence and destruction that have afflicted Nigeria in
general and northern Nigeria in particular.
In view of the need to find lasting solutions to these crises, the National Christian Elders
Forum wishes to recommend as follows:
1. The traditional, political, religious, academic, and commercial leadership of
northern Nigeria are under obligation to ensure that religious intolerance, which has
become the bane of the North, is eradicated. Lasting peace can only exist in an
environment where justice, equality, and fairness reign. Northern Nigeria has to imbibe
the spirit and the letter of Section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constitution that guarantees freedom
of religious belief. The current crisis between the Nigerian Army and the Shiites occurred
as a result of religious tension. Before now, Muslims in the North have consistently waged
destructive attacks on Christians and we pray that this current violence will not
deteriorate into another Islamic insurgency.
2. The National Christian Elders Forum appeals for calm so that the present security
challenges do not degenerate into a Sunni versus Shiite conflict in Nigeria. We are fully aware that
contention between these two groups contributed in no small measure to the terrible escalation
of the Syrian crisis. Every effort should be made to ensure that (Shiite) Iran does not enter into
this conflict under its global contention with (Sunni) Saudi Arabia. These nations have a habit of
exporting their conflicts into foreign lands which then becomes the battleground.
Mr. Solomon Asemota, SAN (Chairman), Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (rtd), Prof. Joseph Otubu, Gen. Zamani
Lekwot (rtd), Dr. (Mrs) Kate Okpareke, Dr. Ayo Abifarin, Bishop Joseph Bagobiri, Archbishop Magnus Atilade,
Elder Moses Ihonde, Elder Nat Okoro, Prof. Vincent Anigbogu, Gen. Ishaku Dikko (rtd), Justice Kalajine
Anigbogu (rtd), Elder Shyngle Wigwe, DIG P. L. Dabup, Sir John W. Bagu, Dr. Saleh Hussaini, Elder Mike
Orobator, Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, Justice J. Ogebe, JSP (rtd), Dame Priscilla Kuye, Chief Debo Omotosho, Dr. S.
D. Gani, Dr. Musa Asake, Pastor Bosun Emmanuel (Secretary)
3. The National Christian Elders Forum is calling on President Muhammadu Buhari
not to drag Nigeria into the Saudi Arabia led Muslim/Arab coalition against ISIS. Nigeria
is neither an Islamic nor an Arab nation. The President promised Nigerians before his
election that he is now a democrat and has no intention of imposing Sharia or any form of
religious domination on the nation. If Nigeria should participate in the Saudi Arabia led
coalition, it would be a negation of all that the President promised before his election.
Such a denial would be a terrible betrayal of the trust that Nigerians from all over the
country reposed in President Buhari.
4. The National Christian Elders Forum is persuaded that if Nigeria should identify in
any way with the Saudi Arabia led coalition, it would send provocative signal to Iran, the
main backer of Shiites that Nigeria has aligned itself with Saudi Arabia (Sunni) to the
detriment of the Shiites in Nigeria. It is imperative that Nigeria maintains its neutral, non
aligned status on internationally contentious issues, whether it is politics, ideologies, or
religion. Nigeria should maintain its non-aligned
status. Already, statements that cause concern are emanating from Iran concerning the
conflict between the Nigerian Army and the Shiites led by Sheik El-Zakzaky.
5. The National Christian Elders Forum wishes to refute publicly and stridently that
there is no iota of truth in a video report credited to an Iranian television station in which
an Iranian lecturer posited that a "triangle of evil" composing of the Nigerian Army,
Boko Haram, and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have combined to destroy
Shiites in Nigeria! We wonder under which ideology would CAN team up with Boko
Haram to destroy an Islamic sect. Apart from its sheer absurdity, this
dangerous statement should not be dismissed because it is calculated to beat the drums
of war in far away Iran to mobilize Muslim Shiites to attack Nigerian Christians. The
Nigerian Church has suffered tremendously under Sunni Boko Haram; the emergence of
Shiite backed insurgency in Nigeria must be avoided at all costs.
6. The National Christian Elders Forum appeals to President Buhari to take urgent
steps to strengthen Liberal Democracy in Nigeria through the implementation of the
National Conference Report and heed the call of Nigerians for a new Constitution for the
nation. We feel greatly encouraged with the President's recent statement, widely
published on NTA 16/12/15, that "strengthening the Nation's Democracy and Security for
all remains his greatest passion while the war against corruption is an effort towards a
better Nigeria", and wish to encourage him to remain firmly on this path, as this is the
only way of survival for a densely religiously plural society such as ours.
7. The National Christian Elders Forum calls on all Christians to remain prayerful,
peaceful and law abiding. Christians in Nigeria shall remain committed to peaceful co-
existence of all the divergent groups (tribes, ethnic nationalities, religions, and so on) in
the nation and we call on all the other groups to reciprocate.
God bless Nigeria.
Solomon Asemota, SAN
18th December, 2015