ACF, Catholics plead with MEND not to attack mosques

The Herald NG
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Following threats by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), the pan-northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum,  and the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria have appealed to have a rethink over their intentions.


In separate reactions to the threat, they said that doing so would worsen the already precarious security situation in the country.


MEND had on Sunday warned that it would start  attacking mosques and Islamic clerics who preach hate messages to their followers from 31st May.  It said the attacks are intended at saving Christians from Boko Haram.


But the ACF, through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani in an interview in Kaduna advised MEND to reconsider its position in favour of assisting the present administration to bring about peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.


He said,  “I hope you in the media also know the security challenges posed by insurgents, kidnappers, armed robbers and MEND. Do not help anybody, including the youth  who relish in the use of violence in order to address their perceived grievances.


“This is because violence, rather than advance the socio-economic development of  any  country, acts as a drag on advancement. So, it is not in the interest of anybody to promote violence as a culture in the polity, since violence begets violence.


“I therefore advise MEND to reconsider its  position in favour of helping this  administration to bring about peace in  Nigeria rather than presiding over a divided people.”


Also, the Communications Director, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu,  urged  MEND not to do anything that could thwart the  effort of the  committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan on the Boko Haram insurgency to make the sect members lay down their arms.


He said, “We know that attacking mosques and religious places of worship will aggravate the problem on the  ground. We want peace in this country;  let MEND drop their arms and machetes and embrace peace so that there will be a lasting peace in this country.


“All these provoked and unprovoked reactions won’t solve  the problems. The Presidency has set up a committee to look into some of these things. Let us give the President some chance. Who wants MEND to start burning down the whole place? Did anybody say that? They should cease fire if at all there is fire. Although people have been very much aggrieved with the way Christians are being killed in this country, we need peace.”


Security experts have also joined the ACF and CSN in calling MEND not to carry out its threat as it was capable of causing another civil war in the country.


A former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji AbubakarTsav, and  an ex-Security Adviser to Rivers State Governor, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe,  said that the militant group  must realise that  the Federal Government was already over-stretched by  Boko Haram attacks.


Tsav warned in a telephone interview that any attack by MEND on Islamic centres would embarrass President Goodluck Jonathan and push  the nation to the edge.


He called on the government to prevail on the militant group not to carry out its threat.


Tsav said, “Boko Haram and MEND attacks have already over-stretched Jonathan and so, MEND should not precipitate another civil war by launching attacks on mosques and Muslims because it was not only Muslims that were affected by Boko Haram attacks; the government should go ahead with the amnesty plan for Boko Haram because the government laid a precedent by granting amnesty to Niger Delta militants.”


Sara-Igbe said  even though the Niger  Delta people were not happy that the Federal Government had not done much to fulfil their yearnings, they   would not encourage violence or terrorism in any part of the country.


He said, “There is resentment in the Niger Delta because Jonathan has not done anything for the people;  but we will not encourage violence or terrorism by MEND; any attack by MEND on Islamic targets will lead to another civil war and we will not encourage that.”


Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum  has  insisted that only “honest and productive dialogues” would douse the tension between  Boko Haram  and  the Federal Government.


The NEF said  this  in a statement read  by its spokesperson, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, after its special meeting   in Abuja on the current security situation in the country and appealed to both parties to remain flexible in the face of agitation for “full reconciliation.”


The meeting which was convened to discuss the   proposed amnesty for insurgents in the North was attended by 42 retired senior judicial, security/intelligence officers and technocrats.


Abdullahi said that the meeting also appealed to both the government and insurgents to remain flexible to new ideas and suggestions by people of goodwill from within and   outside the country.


He said, “The meeting noted the need for the conduct of the dialogue and achievement of full reconciliation in the atmosphere that encourages the building of confidence in the integrity process. All Nigerians have a responsibility to encourage the government and the insurgents to engage in honest and productive dialogues.


“The meeting notes and endorses the suggestion that the Federal Government should set up a Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission which will have full powers to facilitate, ultimately, full resolution of this conflict.”

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