The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, has refuted claims by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other Christian religious leaders that Christians in Nigeria, particularly in the north, are being persecuted and denied certain privileges because of faith.
The Sultan’s spoke in response to recent prayer protests by CAN and Catholic Bishops against what they perceive as a deliberate campaign by state and non-state actors to eliminate Christians in northern Nigeria.
Speaking at the first quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) meeting in Abuja, on Thursday, the Sultan expressed concern on the level of sincerity and commitment by members of NIREC to religious peace and tolerance in Nigeria.
“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,” the Sultan remarked.
“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. 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. 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.”