The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has urged Nigerians to stop judging Muslims based on the activities of Boko Haram insurgents in the North East, saying Boko Haram was not an Islamic group.
Abubakar, who spoke at the first Annual Conference of Ahlus-Sunnah of Nigeria at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, yesterday, said those who referred to Boko Haram as an Islamic sect were unfair to Muslims as the group comprised of criminals who were carrying out terrorist activities against the country.
“Those terrorising us are not Muslims. They are terrorists. People should not be referring to them as an Islamic sect. They are agents of insurrection,” he stated.
The Sultan also noted that Nigeria was not a secular country but a multi-religious society, adding that Muslims should seek to live according to the dictates of their religion.
Also speaking at the event, Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, identified the major cause of religious extremism and intolerance in the country as claims by Christians and Muslims that nobody could go to heaven except through Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed, respectively.
Aregbesola, who was one of the guest speakers, quoted from the Q’uran to buttress his point that Islam was a religion of peace. He said that what obtained in Yoruba as regards the healthy relationship between Muslims and Christians should be emulated by people in other parts of the country.
Other speakers blamed injustice, poverty and ignorance as major causes of disunity in the country, stressing that there was nothing uniting a very poor man with an extremely rich person, as both groups were in two separate worlds.
Former Head of State, Gen Mohammed Buhari on his part said the panacea for peace included security and good management of the country’s resources.
“When Obafemi Awolowo was in the Western Region and Saduana of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello was in the North, there were no religious crises because they managed the resources well. Awolowo was a Christian and he established the Muslims Welfare Board. May God Almighty give us a leader that can deliver in 2015,” Buhari said.
In his remarks, Vice President Namadi Sambo said the conference, held under the theme,“Peace and Unity for Sustainable Development”, could not have come at a better time than this period, because of the security challenges facing the country.
Sambo said the recent anti-gay rights bill, which was signed into law, has further demonstrated that religion has taken its proper place in the country.
The conference was attended by prominent Nigerians including Governor Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State; Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed; Senator Idris Umar, and some ministers.
President of Niger Republic was also represented at the conference.