Clerics seek protection of worship centers in the Northeast of Nigeria

This article originally appeared on guardian.ng on 12/3/2016.

Muslim and Christian leaders from the northeast have called for the adoption of universal code of conduct on the protection of holy sites and places of worship across the country.

Leaders from Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Yobe and Gombe states met yesterday in Gombe, where they jointly called for the adaptation and implementation of the codes to reflect the needs of the region ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.

The two-day session, organised by a non-profit organisation, the Search for Common Ground, had religious leaders from the Jamatul Nasirul Islam (JNI) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in attendance.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting and read by Alhaji Sale Danburam, Gombe State JNI Secretary, participants called for the adaptation and implementation of the universal codes on the protection of holy sites, while also commending the efforts of both federal and states governments, traditional and religious leaders in curtailing violence and destruction and rebuilding of holy sites in the region. As part of activities to create awareness on need to protect holy sites, participants agreed to reach out to the youth on the need to uphold sacred places with dignity and respect.

The communiqué also sought the establishing of a regulatory body to monitor public preaching in a bid to expose false religious teachings.

Dr. Rakiya Momoh, a national officer of the Search for Common Ground, while speaking with newsmen, said the essence of the meeting was basically the need for people to understand that worship sites, be they churches or mosques, should be protected by all and sundry, irrespective of religious beliefs.

“One should be able to run into the worship site of the other group and feel safe, rather than feeling like been in enemy hands,” she said.

On his part, Vice Chairman of CAN in Adamawa State, Bishop Ibrahim Anfani Markus, pointed out that as leaders, “we preach to our people, both in the mosques and churches, so that by our teachings and commitments, there will be peace in the northeast and the country at large.”